Professional wrestling and acting do tend to go somewhat hand in hand. The fact is, if you become a professional wrestler, you have to act (it is “fake” and wrestlers do assume character roles, after all) and therefore some basic performance talent is a pre-requisite of joining the industry as an in-ring participant.
With that in mind, it’s no surprise that a number of wrestlers have gone on to act in the more traditional sense – in movies and on television. In fact, it’s actually more of a surprise that more wrestlers haven’t made a success of becoming actors – but the fact is that when wrestlers act, it generally doesn’t work out.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is the most notable exception, however. Johnson has forged a brilliant acting career for himself, starring in a number of blockbuster movies and making a name for himself as a modern action hero akin to the Schwarzeneggers and Stallones of yesteryear (though, as we’ll find out in this article, not all of his movies have been something to be proud of). More often than not, however, wrestlers do themselves no favours when it comes to their acting roles.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the productions that wrestlers have starred in that should give them red faces when they look back at them. Here are the ten most embarrassing acting roles taken by wrestlers.
10. Knucklehead (Big Show)
Since WWE moved into movie production with the formation of WWE Studios, the company has produced some really awful movies – none more so than 2010’s Knucklehead. It’s as lowbrow a comedy as you could ever wish to see and stars Big Show as the lead character – the titular knuckle-headed individual known as Walter Krunk.
Krunk is a giant, clumsy 35-year-old orphan who has lived in an orphanage since he was a child. He gets turned into an MMA fighter, which results in a bet on him winning a lot of money for his orphanage (which his success allows him to move out of). Memorably awful scenes include a wrestling match with the worst fake bear you’ll ever see and a scene in which Krunk gets wedged in a bus’ toilet cubicle, having been forced to evacuate his bowels loudly in front of its many passengers.
9. Fred: The Movie (John Cena)
John Cena is undoubtedly the biggest star in the WWE at present – and the biggest star of the WWE this side of the new millennium – but his inevitable transition to acting has been far from great. Cena has appeared in a number of terrible movies – but none more terrible than Fred: The Movie.
The Nickelodeon offering sees Cena portraying the titular Fred’s imaginary Dad – and while Cena doesn’t necessarily perform his role badly, the fact is the movie has a 0% rating on RottenTomatoes.com and was universally panned. It’s awful. What’s worse for Cena is that he has had to reprise the role in two sequels and a television show. Thankfully for the superstar, his recent role and performance opposite Amy Schumer in Trainwreck makes the future of his acting career look a little more promising.
8. The Punisher (Kevin Nash)
2004’s The Punisher gets something of a bad rap. This is largely because it’s uttered in the same breath as 1989’s The Punisher starring Dolph Lundgren and 2008’s Punisher: War Zone starring Ray Stevenson – both of which were terrible. However, Thomas Jane’s version was actually pretty good – and it was this movie in which Kevin Nash featured opposite him as the villain known as The Russian.
As acceptable as the movie was, Nash’s character was horrendous – not least because he had bleached blonde hair, big false teeth and a red and white striped T-shirt (think Billy Idol meets Bugs Bunny meets Where’s Waldo?). Nash also gave a very wooden performance, but the way he had to dress for the role was the most embarrassing part of it.
7. Batman & Robin (Jeep Swenson)
Robert “Jeep” Swenson is undoubtedly the least well-known wrestler on this list, but the late star’s career took him to WCW, where he was a part of the “Alliance to End Hulkamania” – a group that was formed to bring down Swenson’s real-life friend Terry “Hulk Hogan” Bollea. He also starred as Bane in 1997’s Batman and Robin.
It was an awful movie – one of the worst comic book movies of all time – and his Bane was terrible. He was a mindless, pumped-up lackey, as opposed to the tactical, intelligent genius known from the comic books. Frankly, the character looked silly – even for a character in the much camper pre-2000 Batman movies.
6. Pro Wrestlers Vs Zombies (A Whole Bunch Of Wrestlers)
Anything with “vs zombies” in the title seems to be suitable for production in various media these days; Scouts, Cockneys, Plants and, from the mind of writer-director Cody Knotts, Pro Wrestlers, for example. Pro Wrestlers Vs Zombies is a 2013 movie in which a group of wrestlers – playing themselves – find themselves fending off the undead.
The wrestlers on show include the late, great Roddy Piper, Matt Hardy, Kurt Angle, Shane Douglas and Jim Duggan. The movie is cheaply put together, breaks no new ground whatsoever – other than with its very silly concept – and is pretty terribly acted. It’s definitely one to avoid – even if you’re a wrestling fan and/or a fan of zombie movies.
5. Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! (Chris Jericho)
Sharknado was bad and Sharknado 2: The Second One (which featured the aforementioned Kurt Angle, incidentally) was even worse but, for some reason, the Syfy flicks have proven to be quite popular (only due to how hilariously farcical they are, nothing more). However, Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! was simply ridiculous and featured a certain Chris Jericho.
Jericho portrayed Bruce – a roller coaster attendant who died at the jaws of a shark whilst trying to help people. He milked his death for all it was worth, over-dramatically performing it as the shark tore into his flesh. Jericho’s a joker – he’ll have known he wouldn’t be taken seriously here – but taking a role in this movie was embarrassing regardless.
4. Suburban Commando (The Undertaker)
1991’s Suburban Commando was an embarrassing enough experience for its star Hulk Hogan (it was awful). Hogan played Shep Ramsey – the titular intergalactic commando warrior on a quest to apprehend intergalactic despot General Suitor, after the latter had kidnapped the president of a distant planet. But spare a thought for Mark “The Undertaker” Calaway.
The Undertaker portrayed a criminal called Hutch who got into a ruckus with Hogan’s Ramsey. Having bent a metal bar and having had to grin and bear Ramsey’s cringeworthy response (he bent the same bar into the shape of a bunny), he had a single line – “You’re a dead man Ramsey!” – which he had to deliver in a ridiculous high-pitched voice.
3. Avengers XXX: A P*rn Parody (Chyna)
And now for something a little different to the other entries on this list, as we delve into the world of adult entertainment. Joan Laurer made a name for herself in the world of wrestling as Chyna – the woman who could compete with men in the ring. Following her wrestling career, a sex tape was made public featuring her and former lover Sean Waltman AKA X-Pac. Due to its financial success, Laurer opted to become an adult actress.
Amongst her performances in adult movies was an embarrassing role as a very badly acted She-Hulk in 2012’s Avengers XXX: A P*rn Parody. We won’t go into the plot (not that there was much of one), but we will point out that a 2013 follow-up – She Hulk XXX: A P*rn Parody – also featured Laurer in the same role.
2. Mr. Nanny (Hulk Hogan)
In spite of his recent racism row shame – which probably ensures he’ll never be involved in top level sports entertainment again – Hulk Hogan AKA Terry Bollea remains the most well-known professional wrestler of all time. As a result, he has indeed branched out into the world of acting – but his acting career is anything but stellar.
That being said, one particular role stands out above all of the others as being particularly embarrassing – and that’s his role as Sean Armstrong in 1993’s Mr. Nanny. Armstrong was an ex-wrestler hired as a bodyguard for the head of a prestigious technology company who had important data stored on a microchip. However, it wasn’t the head or the chip that Armstrong was employed to guard – it was the head’s children, resulting in him essentially becoming a nanny (which involved embarrassment like wearing a tutu and getting covered in red dye).
1. The Tooth Fairy (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson)
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is, without a doubt, the wrestler whose acting career is the most successful. Having made his modest acting debut in the 2000 teen film Longshot, he has gone on to forge a career as an action star on the same level as the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis and Sylvester Stallone.
His movie credits include The Scorpion King, G.I. Joe: Retaliation and four of the Fast and the Furious movies – which makes his decision to star in 2010’s Tooth Fairy somewhat baffling. The movie saw him being magically compelled to serve as a tooth fairy – a role that saw him growing fairy wings, donning a little pink outfit and sprinkling “amnesia dust.”