What do wrestling's Paul Heyman, Goldberg and Kelly Kelly have in common? No idea? Well, like the Royal Ramblings team, they too will be celebrating the Jewish New Year of Rosh Hashanah later this month.
Whilst we Jews have a mixed history so far as sporting achievement is concerned, there are certainly some co-religionists of note amongst the wrestling fraternity. Some of these stars you might have guessed to be of the faith, others will perhaps be somewhat of a revelation.
It will be of little surprise to most wrestling fans to learn that Bill Goldberg is Jewish. Known in both WCW and later WWE simply as 'Goldberg' he rose to fame with an undefeated streak of over 150 matches. Unashamed of his heritage, Goldberg's autobiography proudly discussed his Jewish roots and the back page features a head shot of the star wearing a kapel (Jewish head covering). As a former World Heavyweight Champion in both WCW and WWE, Goldberg is arguably the most successful Jewish wrestler of all time.
The most serious challenge to Goldberg's status comes from 'Macho Man' Randy Savage. Both he and his brother Lanny 'The Genius' Poffo were top stars and Savage held both WCW and WWF championship belts. The Poffo's mother was a Jewish lady whom married a Catholic man. This apparently led to some family controversy. Speaking about her wedding, Mrs. Poffo said: "At the reception, all the Jewish people were on one side of the room and all the Catholics were on the other, and his mother said to him in Italian, 'What have you done?'". Perhaps the Poffo's will find a quantum of solace if, as expected, the family is inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame 2015.
There are a number of stars that could rival the Goldberg/Savage Jewish stronghold albeit their religious affiliation has never been confirmed. Amongst those most strongly rumoured to be a part of the congregation are Kevin 'Diesel' Nash and Kane. After a brief spell as 'Dr. Isaac Yankem', Glenn Jacobs broke into WWE as the Undertaker's brother Kane nearly 20 years ago. Both he and Nash are former WWE champions. Nash for his part has held multiple championships across WCW, WWF/E and TNA. Others whose Jewish provenance remains unconfirmed but have been added to this religious list by internet folklore include Kurt Angle and CM Punk, Lord Alfred Hayes, Matt 'Evan Bourne' Sydal and recent WWE signing Kevin Steen.
There are however some with legitimate albeit varying connectivity to their Jewish roots. Diamond Dallas Page aka Page Falkinburg's great-grandmother was Jewish even though he is not, whilst ex-WWE diva Kelly Kelly (Barbie Blank) has a non-Jewish mother and a Jewish father. Raised to celebrate both religious traditions, she was delighted to have been labelled a 'Hot Hebrew' by former WWE commentator and a non-practicing Jew himself, Matt Striker.
Another non-wrestler, Paul Heyman equals Savage and Goldberg in the notoriety stakes. Referring to himself as amongst other things "Brock Lesnar's Jew", Heyman is unashamedly Jewish. His mother is a Holocaust survivor and raised him in Scarsdale, New York together with his father, an attorney and former military man. To cut a long story short, Heyman famously established Extreme Championship Wrestling, a brand which remains well respected long after its demise. One particularly successful ECW talent who has continued to do well in a number of promotions and on the independent scene is Raven aka Scott Levy, another Jewish star.
At Royal Ramblings, we have had the pleasure of interviewing some of the current Jewish wrestling fraternity. Indie king Colt Cabana told us that his 'Scotty Goldman' character was definitely picked because he was Jewish. Apparently "Vince McMahon was like, oh, he's Jewish, lets characterise him ...so Goldman was because I was Jewish but I don't think it was discriminatory or to keep me down."
Whilst speaking to current TNA star Robbie E, we were told: ""it was hard to learn to spin a Dreidel (spinning top) when I was younger and it was hard to learn to run the ropes in pro-wrestling"."So if I had never persevered with that Dreidel, Its possible I'd never have learned to run the ropes and be a pro-wrestler!" Robbie E went on to explain that as a youngster he visited the synagogue with his father (which he still does when home on Jewish holidays) and that the Rabbi is an avid follower of sports. A pro-wrestling fan from four years old, Robbie E would talk at length about the latest storylines with his Rabbi. A unique relationship indeed.
Amongst those that we don't have space to detail are Tensai/Matt 'A-Train' Bloom, The Nasty Boys Jerry Sags and Brian Knobbs, Billy Kidman, Dean Malenko, Marc Mero, Brian Pillman and Joel Gertner of ECW fame. That is quite aside from "Jewish Heavyweight Champion" Abe Jacobs from Vince McMahon Seniors time, WWE Hall of Famer 'The Grand Wizard', announcer Howard Finkel and the notorious Barry Horowitz whom wore the Star of David on his tights used to enter the ring to traditional Jewish folk song Hava Nagilla.
Despite our constituting some 0.2% of the world's population, the contribution of Jewish stars to the world of wrestling has been significant and perhaps, as we look forward to the Jewish New Year, this is something else to celebrate.