In a world where The Rock seems to star in two or three blockbuster films every year, and a movie like The Wrestler earns consideration for multiple Academy Awards, it seems like the idea that professional wrestlers can’t act is over. Heck, even WWE Studios seems to have figured out the secret to moderate financial success, churning out (or buying the distribution rights to) cheap action and horror movies starring minor celebrities (sorry, Halle Berry, but it’s true) for small but easy profits. But for every Rock or Roddy Piper (watch They Live to see the Rowdy One in his defining role), there are a dozen movies starring pro wrestlers that just plain stink. And not just ones made by WWE itself! It was difficult, but we managed to pare a long list down to just ten of the absolute worst of the worst movies, none of which we recommend that you actually watch.
10. The Marine 2
The first Marine was a serviceable movie that played into John Cena’s strengths as an actor, namely, having a chiseled physique and never giving up. Also, it had Terminator 2 star Robert Patrick as the bad guy, which at least guaranteed that it wouldn’t be a complete waste of time. The second film in this now-long-running franchise has no such safety net, trading out Cena and Patrick for the wooden and decidedly un-charismatic Ted DiBiase Jr. The idea, presumably, was to push DiBiase as a new star in WWE concurrently with his feature film being released, but sadly, the young DiBiase was just as bland inside the ring as he was on the screen, and any plans for a real push were shelved. Later installments of The Marine movies would star The Miz, who, if nothing else, has enough charisma to carry mediocre material.
9. The Chaperone/Inside Out
It’s probably a bit unfair to group both of Triple H’s starring roles into one entry. However, given that both are about an ex-con just out of prison trying to do right by his family, they might as well be the same movie. Sure, The Chaperone is ostensibly a comedy, but it’s not very funny. Also, it made roughly $50,000 (not a typo) worldwide in theaters and was an unmitigated financial disaster for the company. It is one of a few chances you’ll get to watch the actor who does the voice of Lisa Simpson, if that helps at all. Meanwhile, Inside Out is supposed to be a thrilling action movie, but its incredibly campy nature makes it potentially funnier than The Chaperone. Allegedly Inside Out was supposed to have Batista in the leading role, but he was dropped in favor of Triple H, then subsequently left WWE and played Drax the Destroyer in Guardians of the Galaxy, becoming a huge star in the process. Meanwhile, Inside Out was a forgettable direct-to-video release that nobody would have heard of if WWE hadn’t spent a lot of time promoting it on their television shows.
8. Bending The Rules
Shockingly, this mediocre buddy copy movie didn’t fail because it starred a wrestler, as Edge was pretty funny as a laid-back, quirky detective who gets away with his behavior because he also gets results. Instead, it’s the other half of the starring duo, Jamie Kennedy, who is so annoying in his role as a neurotic lawyer that it ruins most of the movie. A confusing plot that seems like half of the details behind the crime being investigated got left on the cutting room floor doesn’t help its cause either. Fortunately, better days were ahead for Edge, who found himself in a starring role on SyFy’s under-rated drama Haven after he retired from the ring.
7. Christmas Bounty
We said earlier that The Miz has the acting chops to work with less-than-stellar material, but not even he can save this tepid ABC Family movie about a gang of retired bounty hunters trying to catch the one that got away. Oh, and it’s set at Christmas time, hence the title. Yes, puns like that pretty much give away the quality of what you can expect if you watch this. Sure, it’s just a family Christmas movie made for TV, which means it’s probably not fair to judge it against “real” movies, but shouldn’t we hold Christmas specials to just as high of a standard? We’re just saying, Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer is a classic family Christmas special, and it’s excellent. When your movie’s quality doesn’t even come close to matching up against a stop-motion feature created in the 1960’s, there’s something seriously wrong here.
6. Santa With Muscles
Speaking of Christmas movies, Hulk Hogan plays a rich jerk who gets amnesia after he takes a blow to the head and wakes up in a Santa costume. which makes him think that he must really be Santa Claus. Yes, the 80s were a simpler time, before we knew about the real long-term effect of concussions. But anyway, Hogan (as Santa) meets up with some kids and helps them save their orphanage from bad guys who want access to an underground cave full of weird crystals that sits underneath the building. Only it made even less sense than that sentence would have you believe. This movie is also notable for being one of the first appearances of That 70’s Show star Mila Kunis, as one of the precocious preteen orphans. So, now you get to feel old.
5. The Reunion
This would be the film that killed John Cena’s future as an actor (before Trainwreck gave his acting career some new life). A confusing and mostly boring tale of three brothers who can’t get along trying to rescue a businessman being held by kidnappers in Mexico, absolutely nothing in this direct-to-video piece of trash is worth watching. Well, that’s not true, Amy Smart is in it for a few minutes and she’s not bad looking. It’s notable that Cena actually doesn’t play a straight-edge, paint-by-numbers good guy, instead spending most of the movie pretty much being a jerk. That’s is an interesting choice of characters for Cena, but probably the wrong one given that being the straight-laced good guy were what helped make his other acting jobs at least moderate successes. As stale as Cena is as a babyface in the world of wrestling, the act still makes money, which is something that The Reunion decidedly did not.
4. The Tooth Fairy
While The Rock can now hang his hat on being a true “A” list bankable action star thanks to his starring role in San Andreas and his appearances in the Fast and Furious films (though that last one was basically a glorified cameo), he does have his share of regrettable role choices before he managed to reach the top of the mountain. At one point, Rock was clearly at a stage in his life where he wanted to make some family-friendly Disney movies, which seems to be something every actor does at least once in their life. Some of them, like The Game Plan weren’t horrible. And then there’s The Tooth Fairy, where Rock plays a hockey player who gets sentenced to spend two weeks as the Tooth Fairy and somehow learns a life lesson about letting kids use their imagination. Or something. Listen, the movie uses something called “Amnesia Dust” in order to cover up all of the potential plot holes, that should tell you how much effort went into writing a coherent script. And yet, because it was a family-rated Disney movie, it still made over 100 million dollars at the box office. Plus, it gave us a sequel starring Larry The Cable Guy, which is considered a legitimate criminal offence in most countries.
The Big Show seems like a really good guy, as 7-foot-tall giants go. By all accounts, he’s friendly, he’s funny, and he’s a great person to hang out with. So it’s a shame that he theatrical debut, and the first comedy produced by WWE Studios, was the terrible Knucklehead, where he plays a thirty-five year old orphan who gets hustled by a shifty manager into competing in a variety of prizefights in order to earn enough money to save the orphanage. Presumably, comedy ensues somewhere, but you’d have to look pretty hard to find it, unless you find something funny about crooked promoters holding a kid hostage in order to force Big Show to throw a fight. Yes, this is something that happens. The movie was a critical and financial bomb, although Show would bounce back to guest star on several USA Network shows, where he was cast in much better roles that made better use of his talents.
2. Leprechaun: Origins
There’s a reason why the Leprechaun franchise has been dead for years, but WWE figured they could bring it back and turn it into a starring vehicle for one of their own performers. Yes, somehow Hornswoggle ended up starring in a feature film based on the fairly well-known (but mostly horrible) series. Admittedly, expectations were low for Origins, since previous installments such as Leprechaun In Space and Leprechaun In The Hood (not to mention the follow-up Back 2 Tha Hood, and yes, these were all real movies) were not exactly critically acclaimed. In fact, they’re all pretty terrible. But the WWE-produced reboot lived down to the franchise’s reputation in every conceivable way. In an era where it seems like every low-budget horror movie on the planet can make decent money on a theatrical release, this wasn’t even good enough to make it to the big screen, and was only ever available as a direct-to-video release.
1. Ready To Rumble
This movie, which somehow made it into theaters, takes every stereotype about how stupid pro wrestling fans are and runs it right into the ground. Which wouldn’t actually be a surprise in the grand history of how Hollywood has portrayed pro wrestling and its fans, except this movie was made with the backing and full co-operation of World Championship Wrestling, at the time the #2 wrestling promotion in the world, whose profits come from, you know, wrestling fans. But hey, a lot of jokes are made about poop, so it’s got that going for it. Even worse, the movie affected the world of pro wrestling in two ridiculous ways that were ultimately part of the reason why WCW is remembered as a joke. The first is the Triple Cage gimmick that was used in the climactic match of the film, which WCW themselves then used for a Pay Per View match. It turns out, stacking three progressively smaller cages on top of each other does not make for a very good match, especially once wrestlers reach the top cage and spend most of the match trying to not fall to their deaths. The second, and more important reason why this movie ruined WCW is that it led to actor David Arquette winning the WCW World Heavyweight Championship, killing the credibility of the title and the promotion from that point forward. WCW was purchased by WWE within the next year. We’re not saying this movie killed WCW, but it certainly didn’t help it survive.