Acting and wrestling go hand in hand – the industries are closely entwined. Although the intense performance schedule WWE demands leaves little room for extra work, many WWE Superstars go on to have extensive Hollywood careers.
Today we’re going to take a little look at some of the most successful WWE Superstars who have gone on to have incredible acting careers. One of the ones below even made it into our top 5 appearances of sports stars in movies and on TV.
So without further delay, here’s our list of the best WWE superstars turned actors.
Top 5 WWE Superstars Who Became Actors
5: STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN
These days Stone Cold Steve Austin spends his time brewing IPAs and hosting podcasts, but he was one of WWE’s top talents back in the Attitude Era – you know, when WWE was actually good. Stone Cold officially retired from wrestling in 2003, but he’d already become a bit of a public figure outside of sports entertainment by then.
WWE Superstar Stone Cold’s Hollywood career began with The Longest Yard, the Adam Sandler – fronted remake of a 1974 Burt Reynolds movie. We’re still not exactly sure how Adam Sandler became a fitting stand-in for Burt, but it’s just easier to disregard common sense when Sandler’s involved.
Stone Cold went on to have roles in The Condemned, a battle-royale type movie that pits ten convicts against each other in a battle to the death, The Expendables with all the other Hollywood hard men, and, most recently, The Smosh Movie back in 2015. And that, apparently, was the end of that.
Most of Stone Cold’s acting career was straight to video. Hidden gems like “The Package”, “The Stranger”, “Maximum Conviction” and “Tactical Force”. You know, the kind of stuff you’d see lining the bin at your local CeX store.
4: ANDRE THE GIANT
Andre Rousimoff, known worldwide as Andre The Giant, was probably one of the first WWE superstars to strike out into the world of acting with enduring success. Known for his prodigal size, Andre was dubbed “The Eighth Wonder of the World” during his wrestling career and even featured in the 1974 Guinness book of world records as the highest-paid wrestler of all time.
His filmography isn’t quite as glittering as his wrestling career, but he did have a role in the 80s classic “The Princess Bride”, as Fezzik the giant. He also had an uncredited role in Conan the Destroyer and appeared as himself in Micki & Maude… which you’d be totally forgiven for not remembering in the slightest.
Andre usually appeared as himself, and this was probably because he was such an instantly recognisable figure. His final appearance in the film was posthumous, in 1994’s Trading Mom – Andre appeared as a circus strongman following his death in 1993.
3: JOHN CENA
The temptation is to leave this section blank, but I don’t think that would go over too well with the editor. WWE Superstar John Cena’s strength has always been in his ability to adapt and market himself. He’s come an insanely long way from the trash-talking Vanilla Ice character he was back in the day.
Whether you like him or not, he’s had one of the biggest (and most technically successful) acting careers outside of the WWE. This is probably helped by the fact he’s such a marketable, white-bread and apple pie kinda guy. He just seems so nice – something definitely helped along by his ridiculous amount of charity work.
Cena’s body of cinematic work is as bulging as his biceps – he first starred in 2006’s The Marine, following it up with 12 Rounds. These were all characters that played into his currently established wrestling persona to an extent. Later on, though, Cena’s wider appeal would shine through and he’d start taking roles in family-friendly movies like Scooby Doo and Surf’s Up 2.
His latest role was as Peacemaker in the 2021 Suicide Squad movie, and while Cena doesn’t quite reach the heights of number one and two on this list, we’d say he’s successfully made the switch from wrestling to acting full-time.
2: DAVE BAUTISTA
Dave Bautista is probably the most prolific – and actually talented – WWE Superstar-turned-actor on this list. While he might not have the instant star power of John Cena or The Rock, he’s got a consistent and entertaining body of work. Best known for his brilliant performance as Drax in Guardians of the Galaxy/Avengers, Dave’s actually a really hard-working actor.
Unlike his fellow sports entertainers, Bautista has an eclectic filmography, with roles that don’t often just rely on his muscles. He’s had roles in Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049 and Dune, Kickboxer and Ip Man movies, and Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery. And then you have the massive list of his Marvel appearances – Guardians of the Galaxy, two Avengers movies, and this year’s Thor: Love and Thunder. The man’s unstoppable.
1: DWAYNE ‘THE ROCK’ JOHNSON
Dwayne Johnson tops our list of WWE Superstars today – not necessarily thanks to talent, but good old-fashioned hard work. Love him or hate him, he’s always the hardest worker in the room, and when he turned his iron-clad work ethic to Hollywood, he went all the way to the top. The Rock is one of Hollywood’s highest-paid actors now, despite his acting career launching with The Mummy Returns and the questionable spin-off, The Scorpion King.
In fact, many of The Rock’s early movie appearances were… less than great. Be Cool, Doom, the absolute flop that was Southland Tales and Get Smart. Not a single cinematic gem among them.
He finally hit his stride with the Fast and Furious franchise, though – he’s now essentially the face of that series, and regularly appears in more light-hearted movies like Moana and Jumanji. Dwayne has finally made his move into the realm of superhero movies with this year’s Black Adam – but the jury’s still out on whether that was a smart move or not.
And that’s your lot for today. Has your favourite WWE Superstar made the list? Let us know in the comments below of any WWE Superstars you feel we should have included and the movies which made them iconic on the silver screen.
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