ByJosh Molina, writer at
Covers mixed martial arts and professional wrestling and the convergence of the two industries.
Josh Molina

I have no problem saying it. Pro wrestlers are among the best actors in the world. Bobby "The Brain" Heenan, Vince McMahon, Randy "The Macho Man" Savage, were all great actors, a skilled that fueled their in-ring wrestling personas.

Sometimes those wrestlers take their acting skills to Hollywood and become bigger stars. It makes sense. These guys are performing live in front of thousands of people every night, and competing in the ring. There's no such thing as stage fright for professional wrestlers.

Professional wrestling is no longer seen as a second-class sport or entertainment genre. Wrestling is Hollywood and Hollywood is wrestling.

Let's look at some of the wrestlers who crossed over -- and made it big. Wham style.

5. Hulk Hogan

Say what you will about the Hulkster, he knows how to get people's attention. These days he's bodyslamming Gawker for showing his sex tape, but a long time ago Hogan was America's hero. He trained, said his prayers and ate his vitamins. He was in cartoons, on lunch boxes, ice cream bars, posters, television, movies -- even underpants.

Hogan was the biggest icon in wrestling. In 1983, he appeared in Rocky III, where he faced Rocky in an exhibition match. Hogan was already a star in wrestling, but this appearance made him recognizable to the masses. As "Thunderlips," Hogan made an impact, and then used that attention to become WWF champion and then the biggest star in the history of the sport.

Hogan also appeared in several other movies, including Mr. Nanny, Suburban Commando and No Holds Barred. He also starred in television shows such as Thunder in Paradise. Like Elvis, Hogan never really got a great script. He made the most of what he had. Too bad his most recent video performance involved him and the wife of someone named "Bubba The Love Sponge."

4. Jesse "The Body" Ventura

Ventura's body of work in the movies is less than Hogan's but he actually won good reviews for his performances. Ventura spoke the "I ain't got time to bleed" line in The Predator, and every wrestling fan was really pissed off when (spoiler alert) he was eventually killed by the Predator.

At the time, Ventura appearing in The Predator was a huge deal, a pro wrestler starring in a film with the biggest action star of his time, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Ventura had something many other wrestlers didn't: he was charismatic and demanded attention when he walked into the room. Ventura also starred in one of Shwarzenegger's other classics, The Running Man, and eventually The Demolition Man.

Ventura used his celebrity to become governor of Minnesota and eventually a political pundit. He hosted Conspiracy Theory on Tru Tv and is far more successful these days as a mainstream star than Hogan.

3. John Cena

Cena is everything spectacular and everything terrible about the WWE. The WWE portrays him as an Opie, Richie Rich and Vanilla Ice. And they wonder why male fans above 20 boo him.

Cena should be a heel, the Dr. of Thuganomics that we once new. Cena is a born bad guy, but since he looks like Marky Mark, and even better in a pair of Calvin Klein underwear, the WWE portrays him as Mr. Apple Pie. And the same goes for his movie persona.

Cena has appeared in a handful of movies, but the good news is that he is trending upward. He has appeared in the WWE-produced The Marine, 12 Rounds, Legendary and The Reunion.

But recently he has gotten some mainstream attention, appearing in Trainwreck and Sisters. Cena at any moment in the right role could emerge as a mainstream Hollywood star. Heck, he can even rap his way to the bank.

2. Dave Batista

Bautista really knows how to make the most out of one opportunity. The big man enjoyed great success in the WWE, after figuring out the best way to rise to the top is to befriend Triple H, Sheamus-style.

Bautista won the WWE title, headlined WrestleMania and then, to top it all off, went and kicked some guy's backside in MMA. What was left for him to conquer? Of course, Hollywood.

Bautista stunned the world by appearing as Drax the Destroyer in Guardians of the Galaxy, a movie that grossed $773 million worldwide. Bautista had made it. He'll appear in the sequel and with his look, might give The Rock a run for his money as King of Hollywood.

Speaking of The Rock...

1. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson

Do you know which wrestler has enjoyed the most financial success in Hollywood? IT DOESN'T MATTER WHAT YOU KNOW!!!

Yes, it's The Rock. The Rock did what Hulk Hogan wanted to do. He became a crossover star and big-time Hollywood celebrity. The Rock has starred in 30 films, including the Fast and Furious franchise, Hercules, Get Smart and San Andreas. He's has even found time to return to pro wrestling to fight guys such as CM Punk and John Cena.

The Rock transcended the sport and the only thing left now is an Academy Award. Can he do it? Maybe? No one thought he'd come this far. Fast and Furious 6 made nearly $800 million at the box office, and he's only getting started.


Latest from our Creators