3. John Cena
A 16-time world champion with a body that looks like it’s made from stone and the sort of buzz-cut you’d find in the Marines (the actual vocation, not the terrible WWE movies – though he did star in those), it seemed like John Cena was destined for a Hollywood presence as a meaty, muscular bodyguard type, but to his credit he’s found his own little corner of the playground to play in… comedy.
First truly illustrating his comedic talents in the Amy Schumer written and directed semi-autobiographical comedy Trainwreck – in which he played one of her boyfriends and produced a hilarious portrayal of terrible sex as well as a somewhat iconic expletive-laden rant in a cinema – and then solidifying his comedic timing in the underrated comedy of 2018 Blockers (in which he played an up-tight and naive Dad trying to stop his daughter from losing her virginity in a film that is much better than it sounds), John Cena has become something close to Hollywood’s new kid on the block; that being one of those guys everyone seems to want to work with at the moment.
With his appearance in the multi-billion-dollar franchise Transformers spin-off Bumblebee, and his place among the stars of the Fast & Furious franchise for the upcoming 9th movie, Cena is all-but confirmed to have made it as a Hollywood star.
2. Dave Bautista (Batista)
Possibly the only wrestler in history to even come close to giving our number one a run for his money, “The Animal”, “Big Dave” Batista hasn’t half come good on his promise to make it in Hollywood.
The former Evolution stable-mate turned Guardian of the Galaxy has put together a strong run of appearances in the likes of the James Bond movie SPECTRE, and Blade Runner 2049, between his massive Marvel pay packets as Drax The Destroyer in Guardians 1 & 2, as well as Avengers: Infinity War/Endgame. It’s a course that has crafted a new niche for Bautista that is different to the wrestlers turned actors that have come before him, with his Blade Runner 2049 appearance in particular being a lot more serious and dramatic, and much less physical, than much of the work by most on this list.
This 6-time WWE world champion is doing supremely well for himself, making for a figure wrestling fans around the world can look at as if proud wrestling dads.
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1. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
Transitioning from an all-time great wrestler to a megastar actor has never been an easy task, as illustrated by those in this list and the countless other names who’ve failed to make the transition over the years, but Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is proof that it can happen.
Beginning his transition to the silver screen in his 30th year, The Rock took advantage of the soar in wrestling’s popularity at the turn of the century to become a fully-fledged celebrity and marketable commodity in of himself. He has been sky-rocketing ever since!
Now a regular member of the 10 highest paid actors club, Dwayne was paid more money for film-related activities in 2018 – seconding to George Clooney on the official highest paid actors list due to Clooney’s sale of his alcoholic beverage brand – with a $119million annual income. He also topped the list in 2016, finishing runner up to Mark Wahlberg in 2017 due to what was basically a technicality… Wahlberg’s burger franchise.
He has been the figurehead of a number of billion-dollar movies from the Fast & Furious franchise and headlined the $900million mega-hit Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, as well as the $780million hit sequel Jumanji: The Next Level. Johnson has even starred as a voice in a Disney Animation – that being Moana – and opened new franchises like San Andreas and Rampage almost by himself.
The world has bought into The Rock, and while his acting is not even close to the style usually considered for Oscars, he remains a first or 2nd row guest to the ceremony each year, an ever-present in film-centred discussion and one of the most recognisable members of Hollywood to this day, in almost every country around the world. He has become a juggernaut of the industry, and one so huge that his every mention of wrestling on Twitter – nevermind in interviews or actual appearances – does wonders for the mainstream appeal of wrestling in general.
And that’s our list. Did we miss any wrestlers off that you have liked to see in films? Would you have ordered them differently? Let us know in the comments and be sure to follow us on Twitter.