Professional wrestlers have demanding schedules on the road and hard. They must maintain consistent workout routines to stay in shape and perform physical acts in the ring. So, it’s no wonder professional wrestlers turn to cigars to unwind and relax during their downtime. After taking bumps in the ring, these five wrestlers enjoy an excellent stick outside the squared circle.
Chairperson and CEO of WWE, Vince McMahon, is notorious for hating people that smell cigarette smoke. So, it’s a little surprising to see him on the cover of the 1999 November-December issue of Cigar Aficionado. In the issue, he says his interest in cigars started when he saw Dr. Jerry Graham as a kid. He also mentions smoking Davidoff Double R. “That’s about all I smoke,” McMahon reportedly says. McMahon was born to Capitol Wrestling Corporation promoter Vincent J. McMahon, but he didn’t meet his father until age 12.
His first appearance in professional wrestling was in Worldwide Wrestling Federation’s All-Star Wrestling when he served as an in-ring announcer. He continued working with McMahon Sr. until 1982 when he took over for his sick father. A few years later, McMahon came up with WrestleMania in New York’s Madison Square Garden. The annual event brings in millions of views from around the world. After that, McMahon had few competitors on television. Eventually, he acquired the two most prominent rival organizations: World Championship Wrestling and Extreme Championship Wrestling. Today, he remains involved with WWE — often running the show from behind the curtain.
John Cena is a 16-time world champion in WWE. Besides enjoying the spotlight, he also enjoys cigars.
One of Cena’s top taunts is when he waves his hand in front of his face, saying, “You can’t see me!” but gives a small tour of his “gentlemen’s room” for muscleandfitness.com. He makes it clear it’s not a man cave. Besides wrestling, the former “Doctor of Thuganomics” can be seen in the DC Comics movie adaptation of The Suicide Squad as Peacemaker with a rumored spinoff in the mix. As far as specifics on which cigars Cena enjoys, details are sparse. He declines to comment on his favorites (maybe he’s holding out for an endorsement deal?).
Professional wrestler Cody Rhodes is the son of the renowned “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes. He’s also the half-brother of Dustin Runnels, AKA Goldust. Cody Rhodes has held 14 championships in several wrestling promotions, including WWE, and served as executive vice president of All Elite Wrestling. In 2018, he teamed up with fellow AEW professional wrestlers Frankie Kazarian and Sam Leccia of Leccia Tobacco to start his cigar brand, American Rebel Cigars.
Jesse “The Body” Ventura
Former governor of Minnesota Jesse Ventura first started his career as a professional wrestler in 1975 after his service in the Navy. He received the ring name Jesse “The Body” Ventura from AWA wrestler Verne Gagne. Ventura performed in the square circle using the gimmick of a California beach-bod weight lifter as a heel (a “bad guy” that would often rile up the crowd). Throughout his career, he would go up against other professional wrestlers, Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka and “The Immortal” Hulk Hogan, before moving on to ringside commentary.
Aside from wrestling, Ventura was also in the movie “Predator” with the former governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, another famous cigar smoker who became close friends. In the political ring, he was mayor of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, from 1991 to 1995, and he won the gubernatorial race in 1999, becoming the 38th governor of Minnesota until 2003. In July-August 2000 piece he wrote for Cigar Aficionado, he mentions Cuban cigars as his favorite smoke. He was allegedly sent a box of Cuban Romeo y Julieta cigars from Jeb Bush after a governor’s meeting at the White House.
In the professional wrestling industry, Terri Runnels is known for her managerial or valet expertise more than as an in-ring competitor. Yet, she held the title of WWE Hardcore Champion for about 10 seconds before losing it to Stevie Richards. She started doing makeup for Jim Crockett Promotions in the wrestling business before Ted Turner acquired it and rebranded it to WCW.
When Runnels made her debut, she was known as Alexandra York, manager of the York Foundation. Yet, when she moved to WWE, she wanted to combine her real-life love of cigars with her wrestling manager persona. So, Runnels rebranded herself as Marlena, a cigar-smoking seductress. She based her new persona on a former Hollywood actress, Marlene Dietrich.
Runnels also managed her then-husband Dustin “Goldust” Runnels and would approach the ring with a lit cigar. In one interview, she says she would smoke Rocky Patel cigars at the ringside. Still, she also loves Padron, Davidoff, and Avo. After leaving the ring, Runnels also hosted her podcast “Cigars, Scars, and Superstars.”
Photo credit: “Vince McMahon (Dec 2008),” by Sgt. DaleAnne Maxwell (Photo Courtesy of U.S. Army), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.