With Summerslam in the books, and wrestling trending upward (one man’s opinion), I wanted to delve into the world of Professional Wrestling. But after listening to all the podcasts, and reading all the great articles, there was literally no ground that was left uncovered. Place to Be Nation covers wrestling from every angle, and hat’s off to all the awesome work and hours spent watching every minute of wrestling present and past. There had to be a way in, had to be some ground that has been untouched in the world of wrestling. And then, it dawned on me. Movies, the grand ol Flicks. No one, at least to my knowledge, has reviewed the great achievements in film by WWE and its over achieving thespians.
I decided to dedicate my time compelling a list of the best wrestler performances in flicks, so I no doubt watched a ton of classics. A ton of flicks begrudgingly dismissed by the academy, flicks that display acting at its highest abilities. If that’s what you’re actually looking for, then turn back now. To anyone that is not a hardcore wrestling fan, the majority of these movies are simply unwatchable. While this list will have films that are actually pretty good, for every good flick, is a whole slew of bottom feeding trash bag hoes.
A good amount of people compare wrestling to a soap opera, sports combined with day time television presented with high levels of machismo. Wrestlers are ultimately playing a character, they are performing a show, and for the most part, and I very loosely use this term, acting. The actual art of wrestling, is controlled chaos, or structured violence. And that is what the majority of these films are. For the action based flicks, which are a high percentage of wrestler movies, are the same structured violence removed from the arena. WWE Films has mastered, maybe attempted would be the better word, the art of remaking Die Hard in different places. Die Hard in a police station, Countdown, or wherever the 12 Round movies tend to take place, or Die Hard in the woods with The Miz. For the last 10 years, we have gotten the same formula, but with a different setting and a different wrestler. Originality has never been the strong suit for WWE Films.
But are the wrestlers able to translate from wrestling to film? Dean Ambrose in 12 Rounds 3, is the same Dean Ambrose we see on Smackdown each week, but instead he has a new job, same clothes (because he is dumb enough to wrestle in jeans), just in a new environment. For me, it’s still so entertaining to watch the guys we see every week, with a gun in their hand shooing bad guys and causing destruction outside the squared circle.
The reason these films are even possible, is because of the wrestlers themselves. Poor scripts and terrible dialogue are brought to new life by these talented performers. They bring a level of charisma that even the greatest actors of our current era couldn’t even come close to touching. Superstars like The Miz, Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, are all getting a chance to shine on the big screen, when years ago only the top notch stars like Hogan, The Rock, or Stone Cold would get those opportunities.
Now, that brings me to a little known superstar named The Rock, as I debate removing him from this equation. He is the USA Men’s basketball team in a world filled with undersized and under talented performers. In other words, the Rock is disqualified from this countdown. As painful as it is to do, since I would rather write about the awesomeness of the Great One then all of these flicks combined, but what fun would that be. The Great One, is great. We all know that, some movies are good, some movies are great, but none are bad. And there are just too many at this point, he is on another level of superstardom that one could argue, has actually overgrown the WWE. One question to ponder, is The Rock a bigger star then the WWE? He is currently the highest paid actor in the world. You can always check out my review of San Andreas if you want your Rock fix, right here, at Place To Be Nation! Thumbs up!
This countdown, and not the movie because this actually took effort, will include the flicks released by WWE Films or WWE Studios, or any film starring a wrestler, regardless of any screen time length. We are focusing on the wrestlers performance, with just a smidge of the actual film included. It won’t include any WWE Films without wrestlers, like The Day or Oculus. Because really, who would ever watch a movie made by WWE that didn’t have a wrestler in it? I would, actually. Oculus was the only one worth noting, as it was a pretty well made and effective horror movie. The Day, was not new, and didn’t rock.
Since I know the anticipation is killing you, it’s time to get thrown head first into the shark infested waters of WWE filmmaking. Let’s start by quickly revealing the worst of the worst. I have never gone into one of these movies expecting anything close to great, I simply want to be entertained. I didn’t watch Marine 4 expecting great things, but I was pleasantly surprised, as it was entertaining watching The Miz in a R sytle violent action movie. Clearly we come out of movies like these as better overall human beings. But then, flicks like Leprechaun: Origins, or Countdown that are just insulting on every level. Pro Wrestlers vs. Zombies, watching Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Kurt Angle, and Matt Hardy take on zombies, is not as entertaining as it sounds Santa’s Slay with Goldberg was a horrible movie, but it was enjoyable. It made me laugh and the opening scene, is scarily so, somewhat of a B movie classic.
Some of these flicks could loosely be considered classics, but let us not sugar coat this genre. The majority of these movies are downright laughable, and any of you who actually have watched these flicks, I wish I could deliver the lost time back to you. The worst part is, I can honestly say that I have watched nearly all of them. Even those not mentioned or not on this list, The Chaperone’s of the world, Knuckleheads, or That’s What I am, have all stolen time from my life. Pretty much the majority of flicks made from 2010 – 2013, fall into this category of suckage. Inside Out, The Reunion, Bending the Rules, are generic and forgettable in every aspect.
But the sequels, deserve a pass. The Marine, 12 Rounds, and The Condemned, are all entertaining flicks at their very least. Randy Orton, is actually a pretty good actor, and I can almost say out loud, I enjoyed his 12 Rounds nearly as much as John Cena’s. And now we have the new animated movies, which to be honest, aren’t that bad. But let’s not get it twisted, if you are watching Scooby Doo or the Flintstones flick with WWE stars, you are an insane wrestling fan, and it’s kind of hard to take it seriously. But I hope you can dismiss my obsession, I hope if you’re at the Place to Be Nation website, you are an equal wrestling nut who at least had the faintest curiosity to watch Scooby-Doo! WrestleMania Mystery. I mean come on, production value!
I did have to do a good amount of research for this, because wrestlers have had cameo’s in a ton of movies. I didn’t want to forget about Macho Man in Spider Man, or Triple HHH in Blade Trinity. But in my research I found I hadn’t seen every single movie with wrestlers as I though I had. Did you know the Fabulous Freebirds had a role in Highlander? Or that Terry Funk was onscreen with Patrick Swayze in the great 80’s flick Roadhouse.
It takes a wrestling fanatic, a flickin wild man to actually have the need or desire to watch these movies. But, the flickmeister has suffered, and now you can enjoy the top 10 best appearances by Wrestlers in film. So without further ado, I present to you, after some Honorable Mentions of course, the top 10 wrestler performances, in the Great American Movie.
KEVIN NASH – Grandma’s Boy
Let’s get the countdown started with something fun. Like Kevin Nash as the mover who breaks the bong, just to have Rob Schneider respond, “I’m sorry, was that expensive piece?”. If you haven’t heard of this movie, it’s hilarious, and an underground classic. Nash wasn’t making any of my lists for Magic Mike, maybe The Punisher but that flick was such a massive turd I wasn’t including it. Considering some of the flicks on this list, that is saying something. Kevin Nash is a pretty solid actor, I expect him to have something great coming out of the Magic Mike flicks. I think a remake of Grumpy Old Men starring Kevin Nash and Scott Hall is the idea Hollywood needs!
THE MIZ – The Marine 3: Homefront
The Miz is one hell of an entertainer, and one of the few wrestlers who ALWAYS gives whatever he does 110%. Whether he is out promoting, destroying Daniel Bryan on Talking Smack, dressing up like a chicken for a KFC commercial, or being an action star, he does it like a pure superstar. Love him or hate him, he puts so much of himself into everything he does, its hard to hate it. I certainly cant, I can say I’m a fan, and so far, have enjoyed every one of his flicks. The Marine 3, was a solid straight to DVD flick, it was gory, violent, and the Miz had some great moments. The Marine 4, was almost as good, just Die Hard in the woods with Summer Rae. The Christmas Bounty and Santa’s Little Helper, are both corny but very enjoyable Christmas movies. I recorded them last Christmas and was glad I did. But those certainly were forgettable and not worthy of this list, but I had to find one Miz movie to include.
CHRIS JERICHO, KANE, MVP, MARK HENRY, KHALI, & BIG SHOW – MacGruber
You only dislike this movie, or talk about it negatively, if you haven’t seen it. If you’ve actually watched MacGruber, you would know it’s actually a piece of comedic genius. Will Forte is one talented dude, Last Man on Earth is just laugh out loud funny every single episode. Most people don’t even realize how many wrestlers were actually in this movie. This is truly one of the best, and truly hilarious, use of a crew of wrestlers in any flick. Lead by Chris Jericho, who is on point as usual, is a team of mercenaries that includes Kane, MVP, Mark Henry, The Great Khali and The Big Show. Get out the whacky tabaccy and make a night watching MacGruber and Grandma’s Boy!
MACHO MAN RANDY SAVAGE – Spider Man
In Spider Man, there was a very small, yet significant moment when Peter Parker is discovering and testing his powers. I’m sure Sam Raimi thought to himself, who is the most intimidating man we can put him up against the scrawny pre spider. The Macho Man, as the super intense Bonesaw, was cinematic glory captured on film. It gives Macho a chance to shine in the limelight once again in such a major motion picture, and most of all, prove how bad ass and relevant he still is, or sadly, was. It worth noting, the last guy Randy Savage put over, was Tobey Maguire. I really hope its not too soon for that joke.
ERNEST “THE CAT” MILLER & OTHERS – The Wrestler
Ernest “The Cat” Miller had the most predominate role as “The Ayatollah”, but blink and you would have missed R-Truth, Necro Butcher, Jay Lethal, Claudio Castagnoli, Nigel McGuiness. As a monster wrestling fan, this movie was as hard to watch as it was great. It was hard to keep it off the list, but it was a role that was so secondary to the actual incredible filmmaking involved with this. This flick shows us why we should never take for granted any wrestler that appears on TV. They kill themselves for our entertainment, and that in itself deserves our respect.
TRIPLE HHH – Blade Trinity
I remember when this was announced, that Triple HHH had a little role in Blade: Trinity, and I recall how excited I was. Then rumors were thrown around the HHH was taking over the role of Conan the Barbarian, and still feel he is someone who would have done it justice. I’ve always been a fan of HHH in and out of the ring, and I certainly understood when his role in Blade was announced to have been expanded since he did so well and was so well liked. Only HHH could pull off steel vampire teeth, to match his sweet Pomeranian vampire dog.
STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN – Grown Ups 2
This is one movie that I honestly didn’t even want to watch. I enjoyed the first, but a sequel seemed like something to skip. And I did, until someone mentioned how hilarious Stone Cold was in Grown Ups 2. Once I heard Stone Cold was in it, I watched it that night. I was amazed, not only how good the movie was, but how enjoyable Steve Austin was. It was his typical Stone Cold self, but in a role where he actually showed off his acting chops. The swerve at the grand finale, is what made this performance for me. This just missed making the list, and if I didn’t have an affinity for horror movies, it would be on the list.
TOP 10 WRESTLER PERFORMANCES IN FLICKS
10. KANE – SEE NO EVIL
And that affinity for horror, brings me right into my number 10. Kane is Jacob Goodnight, a man with the largest peni.. wait, that was something else. Or was it? It’s great, most of the time, watching Kane kick some ass on WWE television. It was even better watching him murder teenagers with a giant hook on a chain. This is a role tailored made for him, and he nailed it. I only wish Kane would have done more roles like this, because he actually is a great actor. He doesn’t say much, but gets across every emotion quite distinctly, and by the end you actually feel for the guy. And that is the symbol of great acting, at least as great as acting can be in a horror flick like this. Two thumbs up.
9. JOHN CENA – THE MARINE
After being stabbed by Carlito’s bodyguard in WWE storylines, John Cena was able to take some time off to film The Marine in 2004. This was released in 2006, and was one of the first major WWE films to come out and find some moderate success. This flick, is a pretty good action movie. With Robert Patrick strolling down the street in slow motion to White Zombie’s More Human, or John Cena racing down the highway in a big chase scene, this flick has style. Cena was fantastic in some flicks this past year, but those small cameo’s don’t quit do it for this guy like a bad ass action movie does. Cena is a superstar, he has more charisma then most actors could ever dream of, and even dealing with a minimal product, he can transform it into something great.
8. STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN – THE EXPENDABLES
Stone Cold Steve Austin is one of the most successful wrestlers to venture into film. He has endless flicks that have gone straight to DVD, most of which I have watched, and very loosely, most are enjoyable. He really needs to do a horror movie, where Stone Cold gets trapped in a house with a ghost, I mean could you imagine Paranormal Activity with Stone Cold Steve Austin? Now that is what I want to watch. His most popular role to date came as a sidekick villain in the first Expendables flick, and without saying much, was one hell of bad ass. That seems to be a theme here, wrestler actors don’t say much, but use their facial expressions and body language to compose the art of acting. That sounds vaguely familiar. Stone Cold does comedy, he does action, he does drama, but watching him slam Sly Stallone threw a cement wall, is just beyond satisfying. For me, even surrounded by these superstar actors, Stone Cold stood out and showed how much more charisma and screen presence he has, which is nearly equal to the great boxer from Philadelphia.
7. JOHN CENA – 12 ROUNDS
In Die Hard 12: The Grumpy Streets, I mean 12 Rounds, John Cena has a particular set of skills. Skills that exceed that of Dean Ambrose, and Randy Orton (even though Orton deserves props for his sequel, which is a good movie). It’s really easy to make fun of John Cena, or beat up John Cena, but this guy deserves his props. He gives everything he has, with everything he does, and being so talented, entertaining, and charismatic, it means a soulless script is given a heart and soul. Any normal actor in this role, and we may not even know what 12 Rounds is. But, give John Cena a chance to shine, and we have a solid action movie, with watchability. This is my highest ranked performance of any of the active wrestlers, and for one reason only, John Cena. As much as one can’t imagine the current WWE without him, I will be happy knowing he will get a chance to become a true movie star.
6. THE ENTIRE WCW ROSTER – READY 2 RUMBLE
Your favorite wrestling fan, David Arquette, how the wrestling community loves you so. For all the things he did wrong in the wrestling ring, this film gets it all right. I can not express how much I love this movie, and to be honest, its probably the one I enjoyed most out of all the wrestling movies. And kind of crazy, but if you look closely at the scene in the gym with Goldberg, a little known star named John Cena can be seen in the background. With so many WCW stars like DDP, Goldberg, Sting, Macho Man, Sid Vicious, Perry Saturn, Bam Bam Bigelow, and countless other, this film is just littered with wrestlers, and even a ton of actual movie stars. This movie, it went out of its way to get great actors, it really, really tried. And for me, it worked. If you haven’t seen this movie, grab some friends and get silly, this is so worth the watch. And nowadays, it will just be a fun road down fanboy ave for the good ol WCW days.
And what the hell, is that the great Martin Landau? “Sal Bandini, wanna wrestle”, its just pure cheese that for me equals instant classic. I mean, “You know what they say, cold today, Hot Tamale!”
There is only one thing left to do! “Crown Us”!
5. HULK HOGAN (& THE UNDERTAKER) – SUBURBAN COMMANDO
Growing up in the 80’s, I was all about some Hulk Hogan. Hell, I was even a huge fan of Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake because I was such a fan of the Hulkster. With a few exceptions at this time, wrestlers were wrestlers, and not movie stars. And then, in 1991, this little family comedy roared onto the scene. It introduced Hulk Hogan to the world as a boneifide movie star, teaming him up with hometown hero Christopher Llyod. No matter how you look at it, this is a classic. One that is sometimes forgotten, especially for the fact that one of the bounty hunters chasing Hogan, was The Undertaker. Hogan is one of the most charismatic human beings on planet earth, and this flick allowed him to showcase his comedic side, and ability to channel emotion and belly laughs on a far grander scale. If he wasn’t accepted enough into every household, this family friendly flick opened the doors to the rest. I will be going back to watch this one as soon as the Blu Ray comes out!
4. ANDRE THE GIANT – THE PRINCESS BRIDE
Going from the silly Suburban Commando, to The Princess Bride, is quite a jump. There is a massive gap between Hogan’s action comedy hero, and the classic flick with the lovable original Giant. If WrestleMania 3 was determined by each of these roles, the outcome might be a little different. From here on out, is where the term “Classic” is going to be thrown around, since that is exactly what these performances are, and for the most part the flicks themselves. But for this role, no matter how you look at it, is just legendary. It’s a little sad it took this long to propel Andre to this level of stardom, but this role made the entire world fall in love with him. It also was one of the first flicks to bring a wrestler into mainstream entertainment, paving the way for many to follow. 1987 was a big year for wrestlers, as The Princess Bride and Predator were both released. The next flick on our list followed closely in 1988.
The late, great Rowdy Roddy Piper stared in one of John Carpenter’s best flicks as the bad ass, Nada. There is only one thing to say, “I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass…and I am all out of bubblegum”. Piper was one of the guys that was a natural, everything he did from wrestling to flicks, was just on another level of talent. When you watch Suburban Commando or Mr. Nanny, or even 12 Rounds or The Marine, we are watching Hulk Hogan and John Cena playing roles. But, for Piper, he was able to become the character, be something different then himself. He was one of the most talent men to cross into the squared circle, and was one that took his acting abilities to far different levels than most. While Hogan and Cena were showcased for who they are, Piper made it to this level by being a great actor and entertainer. He stole each scene, without having to flex, scream, or blow stuff up. His subtle charm, his quiet intensity, made this flick as good as it was. Without Piper, I can’t image They Live working like it did. John Carpenter is one of the greatest filmmakers of any generation, and he saw in Piper what the rest of us always knew. His talent was purely endless, he will always be one the greatest and it’s sad knowing we will never get another flick starring Rowdy Roddy Piper.
2. HULK HOGAN – NO HOLDS BARRED
Mostly known for being the WWF’s first foray into the word of flickmaking, No Holds Barred has grown into a national treasure. This flick made the whole world ask, “What’s that smell!?”. As 80’s as this flick is, it does still hold up. It took the reality of the wrestling world, added a splash of fiction, and introduced a new villain in Zeus. To this day, I am amazed at the brilliance of tying in the film into the reality of wrestling. Today’s wrestling needs to take notes from this era, when they were hungry and desperate to promote themselves in smart ways. At points it almost comes off as fan fiction, and that is something today’s WWE could use to their benefit. The cross promotion was done so well, taking a fictional villain, who actually dies in the movie, and then bring him back into the current storylines. It took wrestling from the underground to the main event, it introduced wrestling fans to a new world of wrestling, one on a far grander stage. As important as Wrestlemania was, No Holds Barred was equally as important in transitioning wrestling from cult status, to the beginning of the spectacle it has turned into today.
1. JESSE “THE BODY” VENTURA – PREDATOR
With one line, Jesse Ventura went from flamboyant wrestler, to action superstar. “I ain’t got time to bleed”.
That brings us to number one. The Top 5 could be switched around to any order as they are all great performances, but for me, this is the greatest. Even though he didn’t last very long, the time he did have on screen was utilized to the utmost degree. Every single line he speaks in this flick, I’ve repeated at least a thousand times. “I ain’t got time to bleed”, may be one of the greatest one liners in the history of film. And his death scene in Predator, for me is one of the greatest deaths captured on film. As a kid, I think I was 7 or 8, watching the announcer from WWE films mow down the rainforest with his giant gun, and then get his chest blown wide open, just holy crap. It was incredibly impactful and is one of my all-time favorite scenes, and Predator is still one of the favorite movies.
From the moment the film starts on the helicopter, Ventura with his massive wad of tobacco, his smug confident demeanor, he made the role seem like only he could pull it off so perfectly. And I believe that, could you imagine Hulk Hogan playing this role? I think he maybe could pull it off, but it would still be Hulk Hogan playing the role. Like Piper, Ventura disappeared into this character, the sign of a truly great performer. He went on to have tons of other roles like in The Running Man, but nothing will ever touch Jesse “The Body” Ventura as Blain Cooper in Predator.
Normally I wouldn’t mix with the great flicks of wrestling, but to end this article I wanted to recommend a book I read that I loved so much, I wanted to share. It’s pretty new, and just on its initial circling of the web. It’s a great read, and a chance to jump on the train before it takes off from the station. This one is definitely going to take off.
Heirs to the Throne (The Last King of Legend Book 1), by R.F. Steinhauer
After reading the entire Harry Potter series, and rummaging through several popular fantasy authors like Neil Gaiman, George R.R. Martin, and Tolkien, I was looking for something new and fresh. There are so many various fantasy novels I had no idea where to start. That is, until I stumbled upon this diamond just waiting to be discovered. I noticed it was just released, and it seemed like the definition of untapped potential so I gave it a chance. For some novels, that’s all it takes is a chance at discovery. I dove head first into this novel and never looked back. I thought it might take a week or so to read, but I found myself completely unable to put this book down. It was one of those rare novels that kept me up to all hours of the night. Finishing the next chapter was more important than sleep, and that is where you know you found something special.
Ultimately, this book has it all for any fantasy fan. If you love Harry Potter and Neil Gaiman, then give this one a chance. I never felt strongly enough about a novel to take the time to write a review, but this was the first I felt deserved it. It’s fresh, it’s the next plateau for the fantasy genre, and hopefully the origin of an incredible series to come. The characters are brilliant and well thought out, and the story compliments them perfectly. If you want the next great fantasy series before it becomes the next Game of Thrones or Harry Potter, read this now because it won’t be long before this takes off into the stratosphere of great fantasy novels. Check it out here.
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