Although many have failed, there have been a few WWE Superstars that have succeeded in Hollywood.
WWE: Professional wrestling is a combination of storytelling and choreographed matches. The result is a soap opera with people being beaten with garbage can lids and steel chairs. It is predetermined that the outcome will be predictable. Superstars can play either a “heel or a “face” role and promote upcoming matches, particularly pay-per-views. WWE stars combine acting and athleticism to create stunning content that generations of viewers from the 1960s have loved.
GQ outlines how some of the most successful WWE stars have become hugely successful as Hollywood movie actors. It’s logical. If someone can attract a large live audience and millions worldwide, they may have success in a movie or television show. Many of the most beloved WWE stars, including “Stone Cold”, Steve Austin, Triple H and The Big Show, have had the opportunity to appear on the big screen but failed in the most embarrassing ways. Here are some WWE stars who have made it big as movie stars.
It is possible to define success in Hollywood as having multiple meanings. Ronda Rousey has not been able to achieve the same success as the others on this list. Still, she has performed in several big-budget franchises such as Fast and Furious (which, coincidentally, features three of the four listed members). Rousey was at Wrestlemania 31 with Dwayne Johnson (The Rock) for a tag team match. This was in the lead-up to Fast7, which saw the pair beat the crap out of Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. It was a memorable show that offered a unique Wrestlemania moment. This is not the first time WWE has invited Hollywood celebrities, MMA Fighters and boxers to the “Grandest Stage” in sports entertainment.
Dave Bautista (known as “Batista The Animal” in WWE) had his breakthrough role in Guardians of the Galaxy, where he assumed the role of Drax the Demolition. Batista’s career in World Wrestling Entertainment would see him switch from heel to champion. He was able to get people excited, get them cheering, and get them to boo. Bautista became more comical in the latter stages of his WWE career than his previous serious, aggressive, no-nonsense badass portrayals.
Bautista was a part of the WWE’s legendary trio, Triple H, Ric Flair and Randy Orton. The group was called Evolution. Flair represented the past, and Triple H the present. The future of WWE was represented by the young stars Batista (known for his signature move, the RKO) and Randy Orton (known as the RKO). Both men were able to go on to become multiple-time World Champions as well as inductees into the WWE Hall of Fame.
After briefly appearing in 2014, Batista left WWE to reform Evolution for a few more months. He then returned to Hollywood in 2018 to end his career. Bautista was a primary antagonist in the blockbuster movie Dune and will be reprising his role of Drax for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
John Cena started his career as a “gangsta rapper” with the trademark “You Can’t See Me” lyrics. He is best known for his role in The Suicide Squad and the subsequent HBO Max Peacemaker series. Cena has appeared in the Fast & Furious franchise and can make a promo like nobody’s business, just like The Rock.
Cena rose quickly in WWE due to his vast fan appeal and the amazing feats he could pull off in the ring. Cena rose quickly through the ranks of WWE thanks to his “freestyle” rap, ability to trash his opponents and signature catchphrases. He was a no-name contender for the top-of-the-card title. Cena was a beloved figure until 2006, when “Cena fatigue” hit.
Cena was not like most WWE stars. Cena was always seen as the good guy. Cena was often portrayed as the Superman of WWE. He would permanently save the day and win. As the WWE moved from the “ruthless aggression era” to the “PG era”, Cena was forced by the WWE to change his signature move’s name and make other adjustments. This took away a lot from his appeal in his early years. The result was a split audience. You could count on half of the crowd singing Cena’s name and half of the crowd shouting, “Cena Sucks!”
Dwayne Johnson, “The Rock” Johnson
Last but not least is the man who helped others like Cena or Bautista achieve stardom beyond the squared circle. He’s the man with many nicknames: Dwayne Johnson. The Rock is regarded as one of the best WWE performers, if not the greatest. His in-ring agility, athleticism, and ability to cut promos are reasons for his popularity. The Rock, in his prime, always had the crowd’s palm of his hand, able to generate the most electrifying reactions from the public, the cheers, the colossal pop when his music hits. One cannot forget his iconic one-liners like “Just Bring It” and “If ya smell what the Rock..is..cooking?”
Johnson is an A-lister in Hollywood. Johnson has starred in many big-budget movies and franchises, including The Fast & Furious Saga, Jungle Cruise, Jumanji, and many other films ranging in tone from comedy to action/adventure as some dramatic parts. Johnson currently stars in his most prominent role, the role of Black Adam, in the film adaptation of DC’s anti-hero.
Johnson has been loyal to WWE fans and says he wouldn’t have the success he enjoys today without the support of millions (and even millions) of WWE Universe fans. In WWE history, The Rock has retired several times and returned to the ring several times. He even met John Cena at Wrestlemania, the biggest annual pay-per-view event in WWE. This match was so hyped that the event sold so well that it was repeated at Wrestle mania the following year. The Rock is getting older and can’t be as active in the ring, but he can still do promos with the best of them.