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NFL star ‘Stone Cold’ Kittle makes wrestling seem cool, WWE star says

Whether it’s by celebrating first downs and touchdowns, or delivering a clothesline to The Miz at WrestleMania 39, it’s no secret San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle – or “Stone Cold” Kittle – is a major wrestling fan, and to one WWE star, he’s made liking the sport cool.

Kittle has been open about his love for professional wrestling throughout his NFL career, telling reporters in 2020 “it’s something that I love.” But he also gets to connect with current WWE star Bayley, who is a Bay Area native and is a big-time 49ers fan.

Recently, Bayley has been a frequent visitor at Levi’s Stadium to watch her favorite team play, and the worlds of football and wrestling got to collide at the 49ers regular season home finale Jan. 7. Bayley met with Kittle pregame, and gave him a custom 49ers championship belt before posing for pictures with “The People’s Tight End.”

Bayley said she grew up a 49ers fan, but as she focused her career on wrestling, she wasn’t keeping up with the team as much. Eventually, when she made it to WWE and Levi’s Stadium opened up in 2014, she got back into football and attended more games.

It really connected when Kittle became a dominant force for the 49ers not long after he was drafted in 2017. It was around the 2020 NFL season, when fans weren’t allowed at 49er games due to COVID-19 restrictions, that Bayley really learned about Kittle’s love for her sport.

“I kept hearing about George Kittle and then I kept seeing him post stuff, and every time he had the ball, Stone Cold (Steve Austin’s) music would play,” Bayley told USA TODAY Sports. “I’m like, ‘Dude, this guy is so awesome.’”

Bayley also explained how Kittle’s appreciation for wrestling has helped the image of WWE and other wrestling companies.

“He makes wrestling seem cool,” she said. ‘Where people grew out of WWE or people are like, ‘I don’t watch wrestling anymore, I did when I was kid though.’ He’s a very well-known athlete on one of the best teams in the world, and he loves WWE, so I think that makes us look really cool.”

Bayley admitted even though she gave Kittle the title belt, they haven’t sat down to have a conversation together. But she’s sure “someday’ they will.

Even with the Royal Rumble and the road to WrestleMania on her mind, Bayley is certainly keeping tabs on her favorite team during the playoffs. As the No. 1 seed in the NFC, San Francisco had the first round off, and will begin their playoff journey at home against the Green Bay Packers on Saturday. 

Bayley’s ideal start to 2024 is her winning the Royal Rumble in January, the 49ers winning the Super Bowl in February and her beating Rhea Ripley at WrestleMania 40 in April for the Women’s World Championship. When that happens, Bayley said, there can be a whole celebration for the Bay. 

“We could have Super Bowl rings. We could have WWE Women’s Championship rings. We could throw a big party in the Bay Area,” she said. “We could throw a parade.”

This post appeared first on USA TODAY

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