Wrestlers seem to have a habit of turning to acting these days. The Rock being the prime example that now has lead roles in Hollywood films under his belt – successful ones too. John Cena is coming up behind him having just received critical acclaim in the hit comedy Trainwreck. And who can forget Dave Batista as Drax in the smash Marvel film Guardians of the Galaxy.
But roles for wrestlers haven’t always been that glamorous. There have been a multitude of cameos, TV appearances and commercials that have featured wrestlers (remember Randy Savage in a ‘Slim Jim’ commercial?) including Vader appearing on Boy Meets World and Mick Foley appearing as Mankind on 30 Rock. Even cartoons can’t escape the lure of the wrestler with Hulk Hogan appearing on the popular series American Dad.
It is always exciting to spot your favorite wrestler popping up on either the big or the small screen, but what if you miss it? What if you have never spotted them? Their part may be so small you don’t even notice it. Or maybe they are in costume. There are a multitude of reasons why you may have missed it, and why you can’t smell what the Rock is cooking.
Here we run through the top 10 film and TV cameos from some of the biggest wrestlers.
10. John Cena – Ready to Rumble
Cena is currently known best for his recent portrayal of Amy Schumer‘s suffering on/off boy-toy in Trainwreck or the lead in The Marine. Or maybe for his role in 12 Rounds or his role in Legendary. But did you know before Cena even made a ripple in the wrestling world, he had a bit part in the 2000 comedy Ready to Rumble starring David Arquette and Scott Caan? The film follows two epic wrestling fans as they witness their wrestling hero get the sack. Together they must work to try and get him to regain his honour within the wrestling world. With a multitude of cameos from a variety of wrestlers, Cena can be seen playing the gym rat sweeping up in the background. Little did he know that in a few years he would be the lead in one of the most popular films of the year.
9. Kevin Nash – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Secrets of the Ooze
Kevin Nash is no stranger to acting. Fans of wrestling (or male strippers) may know him from Magic Mike, others may recognize him from The Longest Yard or The Punisher. But did you know it is Nash inside the suit of Super Shredder in the second Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film from the original (and best) franchise? The part was offered to him as they needed somebody that could wear the heavy suit. Nash began his wrestling career in 1990 in WCW under a variety of guises and names. In 1993, he starred in WWE as Diesel and has since become known for his signature move, the Jackknife Powerbomb, a move that is partly responsible for aiding Nash in gaining his record for the shortest WWF title win – 8 seconds against Bob Backlung. Not that he would be able to perform that wearing the metal encased suit of Super Shredder….
8. Kane – MacGruber
Kane, aka The Devil’s Favorite Demon, debuted at WWE in October 1997 and his Slipknot style image has been a common site in the WWE ring. But in 2010, Kane had a cameo role in the wrestler-heavy film MacGruber starring Kristen Wiig and Val Kilmer. Kane played Tanker Lutz in the MacGyver-inspired crime film alongside fellow WWE stars The Great Khali, The Big Show, Mark Henry, Chris Jericho and MVP. The film was a box office flop and didn’t even cover production costs on its release. The film is infamous for having one of the biggest reductions in theatre showings in recent history. In three weeks, the film dropped from 2,546 cinemas to a meagre 177 in the US. Kane achieved slightly more success as an actor appearing as the deranged killer Jacob Goodnight in the horror films See No Evil and See No Evil Two, marginally.
7. Undertaker – Suburban Commander
Suburban Commando is known for having wrestling star Hulk Hogan as the lead actor. But did you know that fellow wrestler The Undertaker also plays a small part as Hutch, one of two bounty hunters sent to go after the character Shep Ramsey, played by Hulk Hogan. Surburban Commando follows Shep Ramsey, a hero from another world that is unable to let a wrong go uncorrected. When he is injured in a fight, he hides out on Earth, leaving his powers behind. Unfortunately, old habits die hard and Ramsey starts getting into trouble trying to promote justice.
Having joined the wrestling world in 1990, Undertaker quickly cemented his place as a strong contender and before long was pitted against Hulk Hogan. He is one of the most famous stars of the WWE, but his only other acting credit is in one episode of the Poltergeist called “The Legacy as the Soul Chaser Demon.”
6. Rowdy Roddy Piper – It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Rowdy Roddy is one of the early wrestlers beginning his career in the NWA in the 70s before making the transition to WWE in 1984. Having established his reputation in controversy, Rowdy Roddy offered much entertainment and was part of the reason the WWE became as popular as it did. Roddy got his first taste of acting back in 1978 in the Henry Winkler film The One and Only as Leatherneck Joe Brady. In the late 80s, Roddy began to take on more acting work, most famously in the John Carpenter film They Live.
From this came a variety of film and TV roles including this cameo in the comedy series It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. The series follows four friends who own an Irish bar in Philadelphia and they get into all sorts of trouble along the way. Rowdy Roddy popped up in two episodes playing Da’ Maniac, a downtrodden wrestler struggling to make ends meet.
5. Bret Hart – Simpsons
Bret and his famous pink and black tights were often seen in WWE in the early 90s before leaving for rival WCW. The Hitman got his first taste of acting in Lonesome Dove in which he played Luther Root in a few episodes. In 1997, Bret then appeared in The Simpsons as himself. In the episode ‘The Old Man and the Lisa,’ Bret buys Burns’ mansion when Mr. Burns loses everything. A small number of small TV parts have sprung up since but nothing significant. Bret has remained true to wrestling.
4. Big Show – Waterboy
This Andre the Giant-like wrestler came to the forefront in the late 90s when he signed with WWE having been previously attached to WCW. Big Show, aka Paul Wight, got his first taste of acting in 1996 when he played Mr. Portola in Reggie’s Prayer and Huge Santa in Jingle All the Way along side a fellow bulk builder, Arnold Schwarzenegger. But did you know he took on a cameo role in the Adam Sandler film Waterboy? Big Show played the role of Captain Insano in the popular 1998 comedy. A few small acting roles followed, including Star Trek, but little else. Maybe Sandler should have cast him in his latest less-than-popular film Pixels. He would of made a convincing Donkey Kong.
3. Hulk Hogan – Gremlins 2
In 1978, the world of wrestling was introduced to ‘Sterling Golden’. He then became ‘Hulk,’ and from there a wrestling legend was born. Beginning his wrestling career in the AWA in the early 80s, his acting career soon followed. In 1982 Hulk Hogan was cast in Rocky 3 as Thunderlips, a role that propelled him into he spotlight and with his move to the WWF he was part of the force that made wrestling as popular as it is today.
A number of acting gigs followed over the years, including Surburban Commando, Mr. Nanny and the Thunder in Paradise franchise, but did you spot him in the 80s cult horror classic Gremlins 2? The Hulk loses it when Gremlins ruin his viewing of a film on the big screen.
2. Big Show – Jingle All The Way
Big Show has his second appearance in this top 10 countdown at No. 2. Big Show took on a number of roles during the late 1990s, one of which being the role of Huge Santa in the festive Arnold Schwarzenegger comedy Jingle All The Way in 1996. The same year saw Big Show (aka Paul Wight) take on roles in Reggie’s Prayer as Mr. Portola before his 1998 roles as Little Snowflake in McCinsey’s Island and Captain Insano in Adam Sandler’s Waterboy. An acting hiatus then followed until 2010 which saw the wrestler take on the role of Brick Hughes in MacGruber, Walter Krunk in Knucklehead and a cameo in TV series Royal Pains.
1. Randy Savage – Spiderman
Randy ‘Macho Man’ Savage burst onto the wrestling scene way back in 1973 as, ironically, ‘The Spider’. During the 80s, the now-named Randy Savage (to match his fighting style) gained popularity and became a staple of the wrestling world. Savage was just as famous for his love life as he was for his wrestling. His on-again, off-again relationship with Miss Elizabeth is the most infamous wrestling relationship in history – a relationship that is no more. Savage’s first taste of acting, if you don’t count 1985’s Island of a Thousand Dances, was in Dextor’s Laboratory, the popular Cartoon Network series. Bit parts followed in various series and the wrestling based film Ready to Rumble. Then in 2002, Randy Savage scored the cameo part of Bone Saw McGraw in the first Spider-Man film. A variety of small roles followed up until 2009.