Boots are the standard for professional wrestling footwear. It provides stability and the louder hits give way to the signature sounds of a wrestling match. However, once in a while, there is a wrestler who decides to wrestle in sneakers. It’s usually pretty rare, which is surprising considering they’re arguably athletic shoes in the same vein as boots. Sure, there are a few wrestlers who have glued pads on boots or sneakers, but in general, regular sneakers aren’t used often.
This is probably what makes wrestlers who wear sneakers stand out both aesthetically and practically. It can add to a character’s personality or even keep the performers using it safe, but it’s definitely a bold fashion statement in the world of wrestling where there are already plenty of ridiculous outfits out there. As the years pass and the general culture around sneakers becomes more and more popular, they slowly become an important aspect of culture and more and more mainstream.
ten Shane McMahon
One of the first prolific regular uses of sneakers by a wrestler was Shane McMahon during his multiple runs in WWE. While he mostly stuck to simple sneakers and athletic shoes at first, he would eventually start wearing Air Jordans during the latter parts of his in-ring career.
It’s one of the reasons he’s on this list, as he even made Air Jordans part of his backstage casual attire when he was also a SmackDown manager.
9 Enzo Love
Enzo Amore (now known as Real1 or NZO in the Indies) was a big part of NXT and a later main roster mainstay. During his development he had an infamous accident where he was forced to wear boots and immediately broke his leg.
While many wrestlers over the years have managed to wrestle in boots without seriously injuring themselves, Enzo would then be forced to use sneakers. That said, the sneakers he would wear would continue to be a big part of his hip-hop aesthetic, and they fit his character perfectly.
For a brief period of Batista’s career, he stuck to high-top Jordans instead of standard boots. Batista has extremely good style, aside from his dodgy navel tattoo which has since been covered up, so it was nice to see him show off his style.
Bonus points should be awarded to her for matching the shoes to her tights and how it completed the look instead of looking out of place.
Carmella used to have some of the worst outfits in everyone in wrestling, but at least her shoe game was (more or less) on point. She stuck to Jordans and similarly styled basketball shoes, and also made an effort to match them with her outfits.
Much like Enzo Amore (who was once a stable partner to Carmella), the use of sneakers adds to her character and is an understandable aesthetic choice.
6 The Usos
During their formative WWE years, The Usos were relegated to a tribal gimmick that seemed closer to the Headshrinkers rather than where they are now with their Bloodline run. That might have set them apart from other company acts, but it was also outdated and antiquated.
Now that they’ve lost those traits, The Usos look much more modern and wear contemporary clothing that matches a hip-hop aesthetic. More importantly, the wrestling detail in sneakers gave them a street feel to their team that sets them apart from the rest of the roster.
5 Kofi Kingston
Kofi Kington has stuck to kicks and boots for much of his career, but his run with the New Day has given him plenty of freedom in terms of clothing choices.
The most notable use of sneakers to accompany his in-ring look was his use of Nike Paul George X NASA shoes. It goes with any high-flying aesthetic and its bright colorway blends in perfectly with the New Day’s saturated color schemes.
4 AJ Lee
It goes without saying that AJ Lee is a pioneer of modern women’s wrestling through her incredible career and fans can also add the “fashion icon” to the list of positive names for her. While in the midst of her most popular WWE run, she characteristically wore Chuck Taylor sneakers that reached her knees.
They almost serve as an alternative to boots while providing the same stability, but it helped his character’s punk-rock attitude shine through through his attire.
3 orange cassidy
Now, this entry could be considered cheating since Orange Cassidy’s controversial shoes aren’t exactly a pair of sneakers, but they are a unique set of shoes. The pair are a set of Otomix athletic trainers designed to look like old-school high-tops in the vein of Nike’s Air Mags for Back to the future.
While it’s unclear how or why Otomix decided to make them, Cassidy rocked this pair to fit her casual outfit perfectly.
2 The Young Bucks
Not only have the Young Bucks made the sneakers a popular choice in mainstream wrestling by being one of the hottest tag teams, they even armed a pair of Air Jordans. During their infamous match against the Lucha Dragons in a steel cage, they used a pair of shoes with tacks sticking out of the bottom.
Apart from that, they have also used the Dior X Air Jordan 1 collaboration to flaunt their monetary success as the shoes are extremely rare and expensive.
1 John Cena
Wrestling sneakers were used long before John Cena’s run as “Doctor of Thugonomics,” but no one made it part of their finishing maneuver or a staple of their character aesthetic. Cena’s original run with Reebok Pumps was the perfect nod to old-school rap culture, but it also gave him something to pump up during his power-up streaks.
Cena is now known as one of the most iconic wrestlers in company history, and his choice of sneakers (as well as denim shorts and singlets) helped solidify him as a legendary figure that it is recognized today.
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