Top 20 Wrestler-Turned-Actors of All Time
by, 10-02-2013 at 10:42 PM (15623 Views)
Here is a treat for you nostalgic users. The following is a star-studded, top 20 countdown of the greatest wrestler-turned-actors of all time. I tried to rate the following stars objectively based on a combination of A.) Filmography, B.) Box office success, C.) Significant roles, D.) Acting skill (or attempt of), E.) Signs of promise for the newer guys/trailblazing status for the older guys. Although no one on this list of brilliant thespians has yet to take home an Academy Award, I figured that having their name dropped in my blog would be a much greater accolade. Alright, enough foreplay, let’s boogie:
(Un-)Honorable Mention (Not in Order):
These guys stink at acting and/or need more significant roles.
Ted Dibiase Jr.
Bam Bam Bigelow
George “the Animal” Steele
Anyone else named in the comments section
(*Omitted due to obscure reputation as a wrestler.)
20. Randy Orton
Notable work- That’s What I Am, 12 Rounds: Reloaded
The Viper kicks off this countdown. Orton’s 2 movies in the last 2 years barely helped separate him from the list of honorable mentions. He was the original lead actor for the Marine 2, but was replaced by Ted Dibiase Jr. when producers learned of his discharge from the Marines as a teen.
Notable work- Shutterspeed, Ready to Rumble
One of the most iconic figures in wrestling history came up short when it came to the silver screen. He starred in a couple of forgettable TV movies, which surprises me because I always felt like he had a decent look for a movie star. Bonus fact: Look for the Stinger in a reoccurring role in 3 episodes of the Hulk Hogan TV series Thunder in Paradise.
18. Kurt Angle
Notable work- Warrior, River of Darkness
Kurt was able to squeeze into my list because of his modest list of straight-to-DVD films, over half a dozen in the last 5 years. River of Darkness actually has both Kevin Nash and Sid Vicious, not that that warrants a viewing. Perhaps he’s paying his dues and laying the ground work for a future career. Bonus fact: Kurt appears in a quick cameo in The Rock/Mark Wahlberg film, Pain and Gain.
17. Big Show
Notable work- The Waterboy, MacGruber, Knucklehead
The first of 3 giants in this countdown, The Big Show is no stranger to comedy. His first memorable role was a cameo as a giant Santa Clause in the Arnold Schwarzenegger family comedy, Jingle All the Way. His only lead role was as a fighter in Knucklehead, the 2nd movie to be produced by WWE Studios.
Notable work- Ready to Rumble, Looney Tunes: Back in Action, Universal Soldier: The Return
Bill Goldberg, one of the biggest names in WCW history, has appeared in several films, the most successful of which being The Longest Yard remake. He had some futile attempts at the big screen, straight-to-DVD flicks, and television appearances that began towards the fall of WCW, but nothing truly noteworthy.
15. Randy Savage
Notable work- Spider Man, Bolt (voice)
Asides from several TV appearances, his only memorable movie role was a scene in Spider Man as Bone Saw McGraw, a mean wrestler that had his ass handed to him by Spidey. However, that along with his small role in the animated feature Bolt, combined for over $1.1 billion at the world wide box office, more than the majority of the wrestlers on my list, warranting a spot in this countdown. Bonus fact: Savage appears as himself, along with Hogan, Flair, Vader, and Sullivan, in the greatest episode of Baywatch ever, “Bash at the Beach”.
14. The Great Khali
Notable work- Macgruber, The Longest Yard, Get Smart
Up next is the Punjabi Playboy. Not necessarily a great actor, per say, or much serious experience, but he managed to land novelty roles in a handful of significant movies. In addition to his roles in the US, Khali also has appeared in a couple of Bollywood films.
Notable work- Blade: Trinity, The Chaperone, Inside Out
Why in the blue hell The Game ranked so high on this list? (Crowd in unison) Because it’s best for business! HHH at one point in his “movie career” thought he would snag the lead role in the Thor movie. Aww, that’s just adorable. Embarrassing confession: I ordered The Chaperone on Netflix when it first came out.
Notable work- See No Evil 1 & 2
Ah, method acting at its finest. Kane, the all-time WWE leader in matches wrestled, took time from his busy schedule to film See No Evil, the second of which is the reason for his current hiatus from TV. In these two horror sequels, The Big Red Machine plays, um, well, himself, I guess. I’m a horror movie guy at heart. I kind of liked the first one, which grossed about $20 mil worldwide, and will eventually catch the sequel.
Notable work- Ready to Rumble, The Devil’s Rejects, 40 Year Old Virgin
Page actually has a rather lengthy list of low budget films. Have you seen any of them? Good, make sure you don’t. Regardless, he has appeared in just enough decent movies to earn himself a spot in this countdown. His roles are usually like his WWE career, short and forgettable.
10. Andre the Giant
Notable work- The Princess Bride, Conan the Destroyer
On to the good stuff… Making the top 10 is everyone’s favorite giant. A true pioneer and trailblazer in the wrestling-to-film crossover, although all he could ever conceivably play was giants and monsters in his movies. Any movie buff remembers his lovable role in The Princess Bride (which almost went to Arnold Schwarzenegger), which at 97% on RT is the best reviewed movie ever with a wrestler in it. Andre helped pave the way for future wrestling stars in Hollywood. Bonus fact: Andre was considered for the role of iconic James Bond villain, Jaws.
9. Terry Funk
Notable work- Over the Top, Road House, Beyond the Mat, The Ringer
Over the Top and Road House are two great guilty pleasure movies that have achieved cult status. Also, he was the main focus in the acclaimed wrestling documentary, Beyond the Mat, so I had to show Funk some respect on this list. Bonus fact: He is the cousin of actor Billy Bob Thornton.
8 1/2. Robert Maillet
Notable work- 300, Sherlock Holmes, Pacific Rim
Known as "Kurrgan" during his stint in the WWE as a member of the Oddities, Maillet has a long list of "tough guy" supporting roles. Although his name may not be as recognizable as the rest of this list, his movies certainly are. Maillet's filmography includes 300, Sherlock Holmes (in which he had a huge fight scene with Robert Downey Jr.), and the upcoming Hercules movie alongside The Rock.
8. John Cena
Notable work- The Marine, 12 Rounds, upcoming Scooby Doo film
Now just wait a minute, hear me out. The guy was the lead star in a couple of WWE Films action vehicles that grossed a combined $40 mil worldwide, and even has a role in the upcoming Scooby Doo sequel. Due to his massive popularity, future movie roles are a given. Bonus fact: Look for Cena in an un-credited cameo in the WCW movie, Ready to Rumble, before Vince signed him to WWE.
7. Dave Bautista
Notable work- Scorpion King 3, Man with the Iron Fist, Riddick, Guardians of the Galaxy
Although he could work a little bit on his acting, Bautista’s resume this early in his career is impressive. I see him getting a giant push in a possible return to the WWE, especially because of his recent success in scoring roles in big budget films such as Riddick and Guardians of the Galaxy. The latter of the two can be just what he needs to springboard him into a bona fide movie career. The star-studded Marvel film is due next year. He has a promising future, which places him surprisingly high on this list.
6. Kevin Nash
Notable work- The Punisher, The Longest Yard, Rock of Ages, Magic Mike
Super Shredder!! Sorry had to get that out. Nash has an impressive resume that dates back to 1991, aside from the fact that he never had a major lead role. This guy knows how to do it, simply pursue big man roles with limited screen time. This way, you never really get trashed by the critics. It must be easy for him to channel his inner actor to play his roles, being that his characters are usually assholes. Bonus fact: Nash was the original choice for Sabretooth in the X-Men movie, but Tyler Mane (honorable mention, Nash’s former WCW tag partner) ended up taking it.
5. Roddy Piper
Notable work- They Live, Hell Comes to Frogtown, Always Sunny (2 episodes)
Let’s be honest here, They Live on its own earns the Hot Rod the number 5 spot on this countdown. It is one of my all-time favorite movies and my #1 movie role on this entire list, riddled with awesome one-liners. It received an 87% on RT and has a hell of a legacy, which includes a shot-for-shot remake of its epic alley fight scene on an episode of South Park where Timmy and Jimmy have a “cripple fight”. Frankly, I’ll admit all of his other movies were total trash, and believe me, there’s a lot of them.
4. Jesse Ventura
Notable work- Predator, The Running Man, Demolition Man, Batman and Robin
One of 2 men on this countdown to share movies with Stallone and Arnold (with whom he shared 3), The Body is able to crack the final 4. Although he’s only known for supporting roles, he’s got the look and the charisma, plus he even hosted his own TV show, Conspiracy Theory. His list of films is pretty damn impressive, which was the main factor of his success in this countdown. His best movie quote: “I ain’t got time to bleed!”- Predator
3. (Get your keyboards ready…) Hulk Hogan
Notable work- Rocky 3, Suburban Commando, Thunder in Paradise (series)
His role as Thunderlips in Rocky 3 helped him earn just enough street cred to jump up a few spots on my list. After all, his highest rated film on RT is Gremlins 2 for God’s sake (No Holds Barred: 5%, Mr. Nanny: 7%) and his movie grosses were mediocre, Rocky 3 excluded, which at $125 mil is to this day the 2nd highest grossing boxing film in US history. So why is he ranked at #3? If it wasn’t for his role in Rocky 3 with Mr. T (both men’s big screen debut), WrestleMania 1 may have never happened. Plus, he was the original pioneer in movies starring wrestlers. Andre had a couple of small roles in the 1970s, but Rocky 3 in 1982 destroyed them. The Hulkster had several memorable lead roles, simply sticking to light-hearted vehicles that banked off his massive popularity and recognizable name.
2. Stone Cold
Notable work- The Condemned, The Expendables, Grown Ups 2,
A potentially controversial runner up that may be overrated to a lot of you. Austin, whose acting influences include John Wayne and Clint Eastwood, fares well in my book due to his impressive list of action films in which he was the lead star. I was shocked when I learned how many decent straight-to-video movies alone Austin has pumped out since retiring from WWE. For that, I name him this countdown’s Mr. Redbox! However, Austin is no stranger to summer blockbusters, appearing in both The Expendables and the summer’s Grown Ups 2, combining for over half a billion dollars worldwide at the box office. I feel like he has a nice balance of my rankings criteria mentioned at the beginning of the blog. As the only other wrestler to appear in a movie with Stallone and Arnold besides Ventura, I actually see a very bright future in Austin’s career. Bonus fact: Adam Sandler named him one of his all-time favorite costars, having also worked with him in The Longest Yard.
1. The Rock
Notable work- Fast and Furious 5-7, Pain and Gain, and upcoming Hercules
No one will dispute my number one pick. By a blowout, Dwayne Johnson takes the top spot in this countdown for the greatest wrestler-turned-actor ever. Johnson is not only the best skilled wresting actor ever, but he also has the best resume, the highest grossing movie totals (billions worldwide), and is by far the highest paid wrestler-actor of all time ($46 mil this year alone). Never before has a wrestler become an A-list actor. He is the perfect example of true charisma in the ring carrying onto the big screen. Thank you, Rocky, for giving hope to the business, even though I still haven’t forgiven you for your performance in Be Cool. Bonus fact: He was Tim Burton’s 2nd choice for the role of Willy Wonka in the remake of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Oh shit! I forgot about Shane McMahon in Rollerball, I have to redo the entire list. Just kidding.