I think the biggest change between professional wrestling now, and when I began watching it as a kid in the early 90’s is the death of “kayfabe”. That is, nowadays essentially everyone in the audience (aside from perhaps little kids) knows that the storylines and animosity being displayed or almost entirely fabricated.
With this fact, WWE Creative has attempted to implement more realistic aspects of the wrestlers’ characters into their storylines. Because of this, the WWE Universe is now often treated to dramatic real life stories of the lives of the WWE superstars.
As such, this list will count down the 8 WWE Superstars Whose Lives Would Make Inspirational Movies, and 7 Whose Lives Would Make Tragic Movies. Whether due to their own personal lives, things that they have seen or done within the wrestling industry, or simply their relationship with other famous wrestlers, every superstar on this list has a life worthy of being a feature length film.
15. John Cena – Inspirational
I’m amazed that in the past 15 years there has never been a promo or video signet discussing the life of John Cena growing up. Sure, there was a couple of WWE documentaries which were released during his initial big push after WrestleMania 21, but none of them truly got into the struggles that Cena had to go through in his early childhood.
Growing up in a very poor family in Massachusetts, Cena’s life was very different than the one he (as a millionaire) lives today. The most telling references to this (somewhat still volatile) situation is touched upon in an early episode of Total Divas.
In that episode, Cena reveals to Nikki Bella the financial obligations that he has in regards to his parents and many of his brothers, and how these responsibilities make him hesitant to get married again.
Cena is also one of the most genuine people outside of the ring and has spent hundreds of hours meeting individuals through the Make-A-Wish foundation. Anyone who needs inspiring only needs to take some time out of their day to read about the amazing things he has done for the world.
14. Mick Foley – Tragic
To start off the tragic side of our list, I’ll give you a movie which I’ve already come up with a title for the movie, The Hardcore Legend. Branding aside, you have to admit that a movie based on the life of Mick Foley would be pretty awesome. This WWE legend spent much of his career wrestling in dingy barns and high school gymnasiums. Foley did this for years before finally having his Rocky moment by winning his first WWE Title on an episode of Monday Night Raw.
Not only this, but Foley was very prevalent during the Monday Night Wars, and a film about him would provide a cool perspective on this historic period of professional wrestling. Foley’s career is, of course, tragic in many ways due to the incredible damage that his wrestling career took on his body.
13. The Rock – Inspirational
Of all the entries on this list, #13 may be the one that is most likely to actually happen. This is because Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson is no longer merely a WWE superstar, he is now among the Hollywood elite. Through such films as Walking Tall and the Fast and Furious franchise, the Rock has become one of the most recognizable faces on the planet.
This is especially impressive considering the immense poverty that he and his family faced during his youth. The Rock’s father was, of course, a fairly famous WWE superstar, Rocky Johnson.
This was during the WWE’s early days, however, long before the superstars got the substantial salary that they do today. The Rock has given many interviews concerning his early life (and especially the deterioration of his mother), and his life certainly seems like the kind of compelling narrative that Hollywood producers would be interested in pursuing a movie script.
12. Paige – Tragic
Admittedly Paige has spent a fairly limited amount of time wrestling in a WWE ring, however, her life would make an interesting film largely because of her experiences prior to coming to WWE. For those of you who don’t know, Paige’s parents own an independent wrestling organization that’s based in the United Kingdom.
While this organization doesn’t compete with the WWE internationally, it is fairly popular domestically and provides a breeding ground for much of WWE’s European talent. Because of her parent’s affinity for professional wrestling, Paige has been spending time in the squared circle essentially since she stepped out of the womb.
Paige’s career has recently taken a tragic turn, with injuries and drug suspension causing her to spiral into the basement of the WWE locker room.
11. Triple H – Inspirational
If the life of Triple H were to me made into a show (instead of a movie), it would probably be classified as a soap opera. For starters, Triple H was part of one of the most controversial groups in the history of professional wrestling. I am not talking about DX here, but about the real life group of the Clique.
There have been countless internet blogs and articles arguing the extent of control that this group once had over the two premier wrestling organizations (WWE and WCW). Not only would Triple H’s Clique affiliation be a compelling storyline, but a large portion of the movie would be dedicated to his relationship with Stephanie McMahon.
Triple H and Stephanie began their relationship at a time when he was still an up and comer in WWE and was at the total mercy of his boss (and her father), Vince McMahon and we’d love to see that relationship play out on the big screen.
10. Eric Bischoff – Tragic
One of the most interesting stories in the history of professional wrestling is the meteoric rise and tragic downfall of WCW. The incredible talent and tumultuous nature of this company is perfect for the big screen, and examining it through the lens of longtime producer Eric Bischoff would be the perfect way to showcase this story.
Bischoff was brought on very early in the creation of WCW, and his personal history with Vince McMahon (Bischoff once interviewed at WWE, and felt humiliated when they made him give an interview to a mop) was apparent throughout the show’s TV run.
9. Chris Jericho – Inspirational
Seeing the WWE product as a whole, it is easy for audiences to forget the years of training and performing that usually predates a wrestler becoming a WWE superstar.
Therefore, wouldn’t it be fascinating to follow the career of a young wrestler, wrestling for various wrestling organizations, hoping to hone his craft so that one day he can sign a contract with WWE?
If I had to pick one superstar whose life would follow this storyline on film, it would be Chris Jericho. Not only has the Ayatollah of Rock ‘N Rolla wrestled just about everywhere there is to wrestle (WCW, New Japan, the United Kingdom, etc.), but he also has the personality necessary to drive a feature length film.
8. Shawn Michaels – Tragic
If you’re going to make a movie about a professional wrestler, why not make it about the wrestler who is widely considered to be the single greatest performer of all time.
The highs and lows of this story would create emotion and tension that would heavily resonate with audiences. From achieving his boyhood dream of becoming WWE Champion, to his spiral downward into the abyss of drugs and alcohol, to his reinvention as a WWE icon, the story of the life of Shawn Michaels essentially writes itself.
Not only this but if WrestleMania is truly the grandest stage in professional wrestling, then the man known as Mr. WrestleMania is surely an appropriate story for the grandest of movie productions. (Note: Michaels is also a member of the infamous Clique group that I discussed in the Triple H entry)
7. Charlotte – Inspirational
Ignoring the fact that she is the current queen of the WWE’s Women’s Division, how cool must it have been for Charlotte Flair to have Ric Flair as a dad?
Ric’s history of family problems are well noted, however, the life of Charlotte growing up in a household where her father was constantly on the road becoming a 16x World Heavyweight Champion would certainly make for some compelling screen time.
Not only this, but the several drastic things that happened in Ric’s life (which will be discussed more in depth later) would be incredibly cool to see through the viewpoint of his young daughter.
6. Andre the Giant – Tragic
Though most WWE fans know who Andre the Giant was, I don’t think many of them understand how sad this man’s life was. A large portion of his troubles was due to the simple fact of how big he was.
Many people associated with WWE during his career have testified to the fact that Andre was simply too big to sit in a regular car, and therefore had to be driven from arena to arena in the back of a beat up work van.
Imagine how much harder your life would be today if you suddenly grew 2 feet and 100 pounds. Then, imagine all the things you would have to do (new bed, new clothes, etc.), and how hard it would be to accomplish these things in the 70’s and 80’s when specialized goods and information weren’t so readily available.
5. Sting – Inspirational
We talked in the Eric Bischoff entry about the fascination that many wrestling fans have with the now defunct WCW. Whether this is due to the revolutionary nature of some of their programming (the NWO, Goldberg, etc.) or merely a simple case of fans always wanting what they can’t have, is unimportant.
With the demand for nostalgia-inducing WCW programming, why not a film about the man who in so many ways represents the Turner wrestling company. Living up to his moniker of “the Franchise”, Sting is the lone WCW wrestler to remain with the company for the entirety of the Monday Night Wars.
During this time, he was part of arguably their biggest storyline ever and it would be amazing to see the build up to his match with Hulk Hogan at Starrcade ’97.
4. Chris Benoit – Tragic
While many of the movies previously discussed would be emotional or uplifting, I don’t think any are nearly as tragic as would be the #4 entry on our list. By now most wrestling fans know of the tragic death of former WWE superstar Chris Benoit and his family.
Though the details are sketchy, it is apparent that Benoit murdered his wife and young son before taking his own life. If you think it is wrong to market on such an immense tragedy, I agreed with you but, remember that countless movies and TV shows have been made based on the OJ Simpson murder trial.
3. Vince McMahon – Inspirational
Out of all the entries on this list, this is the one that I would most like to see. Vincent McMahon has been the executive producer of WWE for over forty years and has seen firsthand countless superstars and events that the rest of us can only imagine.
Vince was there when the decision was made to create WrestleMania, Vince was there when it was decided to screw Bret Hart out of his title, Vince was there for the creation of Evolution and DX, Vince was there when it was decided that the Undertaker would lose his WrestleMania streak to Brock Lesnar.
The magnitude of the history that his life has caused is enough to make me want to see this film. I think it’s safe to guess that WWE will look for multiple ways to honor Vince upon his eventual retirement. Maybe a feature length film is the best way to honor a man who has made WWE what it is today.
2. Bret Hart – Tragic
The narrative of a movie on the life of Bret Hart is twofold. The first storyline would follow the life of a young Bret growing up in one of the most famous wrestling families of all time. WWE announcers still reference the famed “Hart Dungeon” that Bret and his brothers were trained in by their father Stu. The second (and in my opinion much more interesting) narrative concerns the events surrounding the “Montreal Screwjob”.
This was, of course, when Vince McMahon caused Bret to lose a match to Shawn Michaels in his hometown of Montreal, without Bret’s knowledge, because Bret had refused to relinquish his title before making the move to rival company WCW.
1. Ric Flair – Inspirational
Is there a better success story in the history of professional wrestling than the “limousine ridin’, jet flying, kiss stealing, wheeling dealing, son of a gun”, “the Nature Boy” Ric Flair? Even if you completely ignore Ric’s 40 year wrestling career, or the fact that he is a record (now tied with John Cena) 16x World Heavyweight Champion, you cannot reasonably ignore all the trials and tribulations that Ric has faced during his legendary career.
Ric has survived 2 separate plane crashes where other people were fatally injured. Ric also likes to claim that he has survived 3 ex-wives (though from certain stories it sounds much more likely that his ex-wives escaped him).
All this heartbreak and loss just makes the things the Nature Boy was able to accomplish all that more impressive. So for that reason, he tops our list of WWE superstars whose lives would make inspiring movies.