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Atlanta United players as pro wrestlers

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ATLUTD 3:16 says we just scored a goal

The Nature Boy
Photo by Mark Dadswell/Getty Images

Happy Wrestlemania day, everyone! Dirty South Soccer has tagged me in like they always do when they need someone to do something dumb. First, it was laying the smack down on Haris in the #CopaDeGlutton, and now this endeavor: I’m going to take some of Atlanta United’s starters (and Andrew Carleton because duh) and pair each player with the professional wrestler (past or present) that best represents them. And if you’re not down with that, I’ve got two words for ya…

Brad Guzan is Goldberg

This is not just because the both of them are follicly challenged. Guzan is a presence in the box, just like “Da Man” was a presence in the ring. He dominates his area like Goldberg dominated his opponents en route to his “173-0” undefeated streak. Guzan also yells a lot, which is basically the only mic work Goldberg has ever done. Plus, I can totally see Guzan spearing someone.

Michael Parkhurst and Leandro Gonzalez Pirez are The New Age Outlawz

(Road Dogg Jesse James and Bad A** Billy Gunn)

I put these two as a tag team because they were Atlanta’s first team center backs for basically all of last season. They were a tandem, so it fits. Parkhurst is definitely Road Dogg here. He’s a grinder, the guy you know is going to give you a solid performance week in and week out, but sometimes he needs a more physical guy to bail him out. Enter LGP as Billy Gunn. He’s the enforcer and has cleaned up a Parky mess or two over their time together. Plus, going off that “enforcer” tag, LGP can definitely put a lot behind a tackle.

Franco Escobar is “Mr. Perfect” Curt Hennig

Truth be told, I’ve only seen Escobar play in a few (real) games, so this one was tough. I ended up going with Mr. Perfect (with help from other DSS Staffers) because one thing a lot of people have commented on with Escobar is his modelesque look. Mr. Perfect was very infatuated with himself as a character and thought of himself as the complete package. Hopefully, Escobar can be that for the Five Stripes.

Jeff Larentowicz is The Undertaker

Who does the WWE call when they need a main event at Wrestlemania? Mr. Reliable himself… The Undertaker. That guy has been with the WWE almost as long as I’ve been alive, and he rarely disappoints. That’s Jeff Larentowicz to a tee. He’s the elder statesman of this Atlanta United team, and his teammates look to him for guidance. Plus, just like the Dead Man, Larry has claimed many an MLS player’s soul in the middle of the pitch. There’s also the fact that many a WWE fan has an Undertaker tattoo, and we all know about the Larry tattoo worn by our own Sam Jones.

Darlington Nagbe is The Rock

“The People’s Champion”… Darlington Nagbe was a big fan favorite during his time with the Portland Timbers, and as he gets more games in with Atlanta United, I see that happening here as well. Nagbe is also one of Atlanta’s players that has big aspirations with his National Team, just like Dwayne Johnson had big aspirations that took him away from WWE. Nagbe has, at times, had to juggle national team and club team commitments, just like The Rock has had to juggle his WWE and Hollywood commitments (although not as much anymore). The other similarity here: they’re both so damn good at what they do. The Rock is one of the best in-ring performers of all time, and Darlington Nagbe can be the engine of this ATL UTD squad once he gets more minutes and gets better acclimated to his teammates.

Chris McCann is Fit Finlay

Yeah, this is a deep cut right here. Look, they’re both Irish. That’s all I got. Finlay was a grinder during his career in WCW/WWE, but he was never top of the card. That’s kind of how I feel about McCann. He seems much more comfortable playing out wide than in that CDM role. Finlay was always more comfortable as a fringe/outside guy as well. WWE tried to put him in some main storylines, but it just never really worked.

Julian Gressel is Shawn Michaels

This one is too perfect. Julian’s nickname is “Gresselmania”, and Shawn Michaels is “Mr. Wrestlemania”. Another similarity between these two is that they are chameleons. They are both comfortable doing whatever they’ve been asked to do. Whether it was as the Heartbreak Kid/Sexy Boy, the leader of D-Generation X, or as the Commissioner of the WWE, Michaels excelled. Gressel has been the same during his time with Atlanta United. Both were given a lot of responsibility very early on in their careers. Michaels definitely made the most of that, and Gressel looks to be doing the same.

Miguel Almirón is Ric Flair

This one was obvious. While they do not share many personality traits, they do share one thing: Flair. The Nature Boy was the limousine ridin’, jet flyin’ kiss stealin’ wheelin’ dealin’ son of a gun, and Miguel Almirón’s game represents that mentality. He’s shown a lot of skill and a lot of flash in his game, and that’s what Ric Flair was all about. Flair was also a HELL of a worker in the squared circle, and not many players cover more ground than Miggy Stardust.

Tito Villalba is Rey Mysterio Jr.

This was another easy one. With these two, it’s all about SPEED! Mysterio was my favorite cruiserweight to watch back in the old 8:00 hour of WCW Monday Nitro, and it was because he could execute such incredible maneuvers at very high rates of speed. That’s Tito. He can run directly at goal and either put in pinpoint crosses or blast his own shots on goal.

Josef Martinez is Eddie Guerrero

I like this one for a few reasons. First of all, Guerrero’s nickname was “Latino Heat”. This works for Josef because a): he’s Latino and b): he likes to play with fire… In all seriousness (I say while writing an article comparing soccer players to wrestlers), Guerrero was one of the most successful wrestlers in WCW/WWE history, and Josef is already one of the most prolific goal scorers in MLS history in terms of how quickly he’s adding to his tally. Eddie Guerrero used to “lie, cheat, and steal”, but the only thing I want Josef stealing is the MLS single-season goal scoring record this year.

Andrew Carleton is Daniel Bryan

The ultimate underdog… the fan favorite… These are accurate descriptions of both of these guys. Daniel Bryan was seen as being held down/not properly utilized by WWE management, and it turned into one of the best run-ups and Wrestlemania payoffs in history. Andrew Carleton is going through something similar. The fans are SCREAMING for Carleton to play more (if you asked ATL UTD fans if they want Carleton to play, you’d get a response similar to this). I HIGHLY doubt it escalates to a bunch of fans running onto the field with Carleton and forcing Atlanta’s hand like it did with Daniel Bryan, but the similarities between the two in terms of the fans going crazy for them is uncanny.

Well, there it is. Like it? Hate it? Let me know! This comments section should be fun…