In honor of The Rock starring in Hobbs and Shaw this weekend, I thought it might be fun to name the five best movies starring wrestlers. Couple of rules to pin down before the countdown begins. First off, The wrestler MUST have appeared on a nationally televised wrestling broadcast for many years. I can't be scouring the internet for wrestlers that appeared one time or never made it to a TV match, but claim to be wrestlers. Rule number two, the wrestler must STAR in the movie. Not a cameo, not a bit appearance. But be an actual driving force within the movie.
Let's begin with some honorable mentions...
LUCA BRASI - THE GODFATHER - PLAYED BY LENNY MONTANA
Did you know the actor who played Luca Brasi in The Godfather was a wrestler? He went by the moniker The Zebra Kid in the 50s and 60s. He just might be the only wrestler to appear in a movie that won the Oscar for Best Picture.
MAUI - MOANA - PLAYED BY DWAYNE 'THE ROCK' JOHNSON
I'll admit, I have not seen this one, BUT Moana was nominated for two Academy Awards. People seem to enjoy it. It's certainly the best movie The Rock has been in. Earning it a spot on this list.
STEVEN - TRAINWRECK - PLAYED BY JOHN CENA
Most every wrestler who acted is on this list in some form or fashion. But John Cena seemed to be left out, so I'm throwing him a bone in the honorable mention category. These guys are huge and could whip my butt without breaking a sweat, so I want them all to feel like we're cool. Cena earned rave reviews for his portrayal of boyfriend Steven in Trainwreck. Even going so far as to show off his naked rear end in the film.
Now for the actual countdown...
5 - ROCKY III - THUNDERLIPS - PLAYED BY HULK HOGAN
Sure for Hulk Hogan, I could have selected No Holds Barred, Mr. Nanny, Muppets from Space, or his cameo appearance in Gremlins 2. But I went with his appearance as the villain Thunderlips in Rocky 3. The film marked Mr. T's film debut and is the first time the phrase "I pity the fool" was uttered. But the showboating Thunderlips takes the cake for me in the 1982 movie. Rocky fought Thunderlips in a charity match that got out of hand. It was likely the best performance in Hogan's film career because he got to play an alternate version of himself. Hogan received the offer after a match w/ Andre the Giant in Shea Stadium. He thought his fellow wrestlers had pranked him so he didn't reply. Returning from a tour of Japan, Hogan received a Western Union with another offer from Stallone, which he immediately agreed to. Vince McMahon would fire Hogan for accepting the job without asking him first.
4 - THEY LIVE - NADA - PLAYED BY RODDY PIPER
One of the great sci-fi classics of all-time is the 1988 John Carpenter film, They Live. Piper starred as Nada, a man who receives a mysterious pair of sunglasses that when worn, reveal aliens disguised as humans. It was a great role for Piper because he got to play himself (sense a theme here?) a wise-cracking street tough. Famous for the line "I came here to kick ass and chew bubblegum, and I'm all out of bubblegum", They Live has become sort of a viral marketing campaign against capitalism and several other causes. But the movie's real claim to fame is one of the best fight scenes in movie history. Nada meets Frank (played by Keith David) and what follows is a knock down, drag out fight that was later recreated scene for scene in an episode of South Park.
3 - PREDATOR - BLAIN - PLAYED BY JESSE 'THE BODY' VENTURA
Wrestler. Actor. Governor. Jesse Ventura could do it all. The real life former Navy SEAL suited up as Blain in the 1987 Arnold Schwarzenegger classic. Getting to deliver some all-time great action liners such as "(Chewing tobacco) will make you a sexual Tyrannosaurus" and of course "I ain't got time to bleed", Ventura made Predator fun. Not as if Schwarzenegger could inject any charisma into the movie. Blain hams it up before ultimately paying the price for his cocky attitude. On-set, the wardrobe department told Ventura his arms were one inch bigger than Schwarzenegger's. Afterwards, Ventura told Arnold the two should measure arm size with the loser gifting a bottle of champagne to the winner. Arnold won. He had set up the wardrobe department to tell Ventura his arms bigger far in advance of the bet. Yes, this movie had two future Governors in it.
2 - GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (1 &2) - DRAX - PLAYED BY DAVE BAUTISTA
The Marvel sci-fi super team could have had two spots on this list, but it seemed like a cop out to have more than one film and its sequels on this list (I mean, if we want to get REAL technical, would Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame count too?). So I am lumping both movies together in this one spot. The 2014 comedy saw former WWE champion Batista don the Drax makeup and burst onto the acting scene. Dave Bautista has since made terrific turns in movies like Blade Runner: 2049 and a classic Bond henchman in Spectre, but his breakout role was in Guardians of the Galaxy, a role in which he broke down and cried upon hearing he was offered the part. Dave was a very talented wrestler, but choose to leave the WWE after landing the role of Drax. A decision that worked out very well for him. He returned to the ring for one final swan song at this year's Wrestlemania.
1 - THE PRINCESS BRIDE - FEZZIK - PLAYED BY ANDRE THE GIANT
Fun fact. Every character on this list went by one name in their role. You can't help but smile when you see Andre the Giant. All 7'4" 520 pounds of him. So when Rob Reiner's classic 1987 fairy tale comedy comes up I get all warm and fuzzy inside. Andre played Fezzik, a member of The Brute Squad, or as Billy Crystal quipped "you ARE The Brute Squad". A movie ranked as the 222nd best of all-time on IMDb and its users, The Princess Bride tells the story of a boy who is sick in bed and his grandfather reads him a fairy tale. Revenge, danger, and love are at the center of the story. But Andre steals every scene he's in as the big brute, even though he wasn't in good enough health to lift Robin Wright in their scenes together, she had to be held up with wires. Sadly, the beloved giant passed away just six years after the film's release. In those six years he went on to tell stories that while filming the movie no one looked at him as a freak for the first time in a long time and he loved being treated as an equal by the other actors on-set.