It's been more than 30 years since the world of professional wrestling publicly admitted that its matches and story lines were scripted. But that less-than-shocking admission hasn’t hurt the sport’s popularity. Today, World Wrestling Entertainment, more commonly referred to as the WWE, is now a publicly traded company worth billions of dollars that boasts millions of loyal fans around the world.
Since the WWE is scripted entertainment, it would make sense that its professional wrestlers would try their hand at acting in Hollywood. But more often than not, even the most seasoned WWE veterans end up having a hard time making the transition from the “squared circle” to the silver screen. However, while mainstream movie success has eluded most WWE wrestlers, some have managed to find their way into some truly great films. A few have even managed to achieve cinema super stardom. So with that in mind, let’s take a look at the 7 greatest movies starring WWE wrestlers.
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) - Dave Bautista
When it comes to WWE wrestlers finding mainstream success, you can’t do much better than Dave Bautista. Despite having only a few non-wrestling roles under his belt, including appearances in the TV show Smallville and the movie Riddic, he landed the role of Drax in 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy. Since then, he’s gone on to reprise the role in several Marvel movies, including Avengers: Endgame, which is currently the highest grossing movie of all time.
Bumblebee (2018) - John Cena
On paper, a Transformers spin-off co-starring a WWE wrestler doesn’t sound like it will be a critical success. But somehow, Bumblebee (2018) defied the odds, and currently holds a 91-percent “Fresh” rating on RottenTomatoes. More importantly, the film was also a financial success, bringing in $468 million worldwide. That’s on the low end for a Transformers film, but it’s nothing to sneeze at. And it's also the only film in the franchise that wasn’t critically panned, so it’s a trade off.
They Live (1988) - Rowdy Roddy Piper
"Rowdy" Roddy Piper may have died in 2015, but luckily for us, his role in John Carpenter’s classic They Live (1988) lives on. In the film, Piper plays John Nada, a drifter who discovers that aliens disguised as humans are trying to enslave the planet. But with the help of some high-tech glasses and a whole lot of guns, Nada decides to take the fight to them. The result is one of the better satirical films to come out of the 1980s.
Predator (1987) - Jesse Ventura
Speaking of 1980s nostalgia, The Predator (1987) co-stars former wrestler and WWE Hall of Fame inductee Jesse "The Body" Ventura as a member of a special forces team that is being hunted for sport in a South American jungle. If you're a fan of classic science-fiction/action films, it's hard to find a film that's more watchable than this.
Fury Road (2015) - Nathan Jones
A more recent science-fiction/action film, 2015’s Fury Road makes our list thanks to former WWE wrestler Nathan Jones. In this latest installment of the post-apocalyptic Mad Max franchise, Jones plays Rictus Erectus, the son of the film's villain, Immortan Joe. In a film full of memorable performances, Jones still manages to stand out. Of course, the fact that the actor is 6’11” tall and over 300 pounds probably has something to do with that.
Moana (2016) - Dwayne Johnson
When it comes to wrestlers finding success in Hollywood, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is in a league of his own. He stars in several films from the Fast and Furious franchise, the Jumanji reboots, and dozens of other action-adventure blockbusters. But rather than picking one of those, we decided to go with his role as Maui in Disney’s Moana. Why? Because if you have kids, you’ve undoubtedly had to watch the film over 100 times. And if you don't have kids, it's still a thousand-times better than Baywatch.
The Princess Bride (1987) - André the Giant
The last wrestler on our list is the late, great André the Giant. And while we certainly can’t argue that he was the most successful wrestler-turned-movie star we’ve mentioned, he still managed to land a memorable role in one of the most watchable films of all time: The Princess Bride (1987). Sure, maybe his acting leaves a little to be desired. And maybe it’s easier to understand him with the subtitles on. But it’s also hard to imagine the role of Fezzik being played by anyone else.