Many athletes’ forays into acting haven’t gone so well but were appreciated nonetheless, just because of love from fans. Other wrestlers have done fairly well on the big screen (looking at you Dwayne Johnson) and in all fairness some weren’t asked to act too much, portraying wrestlers in their film roles as well. Then there are others who dove right in and delivered the wooden performance many expected, proving wrong the misconception that wrestling isn’t just acting, or they all would be really good at it.
15. Hulk Hogan – No Holds Barred
No Holds Barred is so bad that it’s actually reached cult classic status as one of those movies which people willingly watch to enjoy the ironic failure of it all. A few years after Hulk Hogan’s somewhat successful appearance in Rocky III, the WWF tried to revive his status as a Hollywood action star by producing this disaster. Hogan stars as Rip Thomas, a wrestling champion who refuses to cooperate with an evil television network executive.
The whole plot devolves into a mess of ex-con wrestling foes, a sexy corporate spy who tries to seduce Rip, and the brutal beatdown of some random brother character. Naturally, the good guy wins in the end. And of course, the WWF turned the movie into a real-life PPV event, which for some reason included an entire showing of the movie itself.
14. Trish Stratus – Bounty Hunters
Trish Stratus was a great female wrestler — she helped pioneer the entire division and is worthy of her spot in the WWE Hall of Fame. However, her foray into acting was not nearly as successful. She starred in the 2011 film Bounty Hunters (no, not the Jennifer Aniston comedy), which is basically a low-budget action flick. Stratus plays a bounty hunter (shocking, right?) who, along with her two partners, must make a tough decision — cash in a $100,000 bounty on a wanted criminal, or turn him over to a spurned mafia organization for millions.
After taking the high road and refusing the mob’s offer, they spend the rest of the movie trying to avoid being killed by the angry organized crime syndicate. Stratus holds her own during the choreographed fight scenes, but the rest of the movie is really tough to watch. Bad script, bad acting, just bad everything.
13. Kane – See No Evil
The character of Kane was always kind of scary. He had menacing music, could produce fire seemingly at will, and was a legit physically imposing wrestler. So the WWE had a brilliant idea to put Kane (real name Glenn Jacobs) in a horror movie, where he plays the bad guy in what is basically a poorly put together slasher flick.
Kane plays Jacob Goodnight, a crazed killer who leaves his victims with eyes ripped out of their sockets (See No Evil. Get it?!?!). The film follows the traditional horror plot of a bunch of teenagers getting picked off one-by-one, and even includes a not-very-subtle nod to Friday the 13th, when the bad guy’s mother shows up the end to reveal a twist ending. The whole thing is forgettable, but it did manage to make a modest profit ($18.6 million at the box office, with a budget of just $8 million).
12. Goldberg – Santa’s Slay
Hulk Hogan had already starred as a wrestler playing Santa Claus, and it went horrible in Santa With Muscles. Obviously, someone thought they needed to try again, so Bill Goldberg was cast as Kris Kringle in 2005’s Santa’s Slay. If you didn’t clue in from the title, this film has some darker themes, as Goldberg’s version of Santa is a violent serial killer who mows down plenty of people expecting to enjoy the holidays.
According to the movie, Santa was originally evil but was forced into 1,000 years of delivering presents after he was defeated by an angel in a — and we’re not making this up — curling match. After serving his sentence, Santa is free to kill again! This movie even includes Goldberg using his pro wrestling catchphrase of “Who’s Next?” as he plans his future kills. Our entire feelings about this movie can be summed up in one word: Why?
11. Kurt Angle, Kevin Nash, Psycho Sid – River Of Darkness
Who continues to think that pro wrestlers and horror movies make for a good partnership? In this case, we are treated to a trifecta of horrible performances from wrestling stars Kurt Angle, Kevin Nash, and Psycho Sid. We were trying to think of how to describe this ridiculous attempt at entertainment, but decided to just quote the official synopsis from the movie studio’s official YouTube page:
“A small river town Sheriff struggles to quell a town’s newly visited violence and keep its past atrocities from repeating themselves, propelling it into a world of damnation.”
Yep, we have no idea either. If you think watching the trailer will shed some light on why this movie was ever made, we’re sorry to tell you that it’s just as strange.
10. Jesse Ventura – Abraxas, Guardian of the Universe
Jesse Venture doesn’t always appear in cinematic clunkers. His role in the original Predator is fondly remembered. However, most people have completely forgotten that Abraxas, Guardian of the Universe was a real thing that actually existed. Or maybe they never knew about it the first place.
Ventura stars as the title character Abraxas in this sci-fi action flick, who is an intergalactic police officer (known as Finders) from the planet Sargacia. His partner goes rogue, and Ventura is tasked with tracking down and defeating his former friend — which he doesn’t even do by the end of the movie! The whole thing is a sci-fi disaster, and only holds a 20 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
9. Kurt Angle – End Game
Coming from the same movie studio that brought us the aforementioned River of Darkness, North Shore Studios brings us another terrible movie with a former WWE champion. Kurt Angle, who apparently needed some extra cash, once again stars in this thriller entitled End Game. This time, however, he’s not playing the heroic town sheriff. Rather, he features as a crazy serial killer who murders women after luring them into bed. Fittingly, former Playboy model Jenna Morasca co-stars to add some sex appeal.
End Game mostly just features bad production values and terrible writing. Plus a creepy looking Angle lurking in the shadows and trying to be a straight up womanizer — and then murder said women. Don’t waste your time. Instead, marvel at this ridiculous trailer!
8. Roddy Piper – The Mystical Adventures of Billy Owens
We’re not saying “Rowdy” Roddy Piper was a bad actor. In fact, his appearance in the sci-fi/action classic They Live is a personal favorite around the Goliath offices. However, we’re not sure what the Hot Rod was thinking when he signed on to play William Thurgood in this Harry Potter rip-off called The Mystical Adventures of Billy Owens.
This Canadian production features a young boy who suddenly discovers he has magical powers after his 11th birthday. Good ol’ Roddy Piper, playing a mysterious shop keeper that may as well have been named Hagrid, sells little Billy a magic wand for $11 and off he does on a magical adventure — something to do with dragons and Viking god Loki (no, not the Marvel character). Anyway, this film was awful but that didn’t stop the studio from making a sequel, which also included Piper, called Billy Owens and the Secret of the Runes.
7. Hulk Hogan – Suburban Commando
Saying a bad thing about Hulk Hogan isn’t hard to do, even though the guy’s a legend, and in all fairness his role in Rocky III does land on the list of Best Wrestlers in Acting Roles. Suburban Commando can really land in both the best and worst categories, I mean it’s so bad but it’s so good. Hogan as Shep Ramsey is great only because it lives up to the pinnacle of 90s film cheesiness, and a guy just playing off his already huge popularity.
6. Paul “Triple H” Levesque – Blade: Trinity
Triple H goes back and forth between being loved and hated as a wrestler but his performance in Blade: Trinity will just be left in the hated category. Unfortunately for Triple H he got a role in the worst of the Blade movies and it just so happens his performance as Jarko Grimwood did no favors for the film. There is a reason why he has not been in any blockbuster movies since this big screen debut. And no, his awful performance in the 2011 comedy The Chaperone doesn’t count — although it’s also worthy of being on this list of terrible wrestler performances.
5. Kevin Nash – Magic Mike
Magic Mike isn’t a cinematic masterpiece by any means but of course it was very well received as it is stocked full of Hollywood hunks taking their clothes off…and Kevin Nash. Nash doesn’t have a huge role in the film but his inability to keep up with the young guns, especially in the dance scenes, is embarrassing. Luckily, he is not in the forefront for any of the dance numbers so you can’t really tell he has no idea what he’s doing unless you’re watching him. No doubt, the dude still looks awesome at 55 years old though.
4. John Cena – Everything He’s Been In
As a longtime Cena fan this is hard to do, but the guy is just not an actor. Heck, he’s barely a rapper and that was his persona’s original claim to fame. It seemed WWE Studios was aiming for a “Rock-esque” career for Cena when they launched him into action films with The Marine and 12 Rounds, which were essentially the same film by the way. Cena might have had a better acting reception had he been given more of a chance with a better script, but then he took part in Fred The Movie and its sequels and it was confirmed — his acting career was dead for years. At least until a surprisingly good appearance in the Amy Schumer film Trainwreck briefly revived it.
3. The Whole Longest Yard Crew
Adam Sandler’s remake of The Longest Yard may have been about football in prison but it featured quite a few high profile wrestlers, none of which it did a favor for in their acting careers. Bill Goldberg, Dalip “The Great Khali” Singh, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and once again Kevin “Diesel” Nash all featured in the movie. While Goldberg and Austin both have backgrounds in football, that was unfortunately only a minor part of the plot which otherwise fell flat with so many sports entertainers turned actors in one film.
2. Robert Swenson – Batman & Robin
Once again, this could be ruled under not entirely his fault. As every Batman fan knows, 1997’s Batman & Robin was the end of the road for Batman’s big-screen time until Chrisopher Nolan’s epic resurrection. Unfortunately for Robert “Jeep” Swenson he had a role as “super soldier” Bane in the doomed film and although there wasn’t much asked of him for the role, he was just one of many reasons the movie is now widely considered as a joke. Then again, we all didn’t think we’d laugh as hard as we did at Tom Hardy’s Bane voice in The Dark Knight Rises, so maybe the character of Bane is just a no-go all around.
1. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson – The Tooth Fairy
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is without a doubt the most successful wrestler turned actor of them all but after his first couple of action films, he made the mistake of turning to family films. The Game Plan and Race to Witch Mountain were no prize winners by any means but The Tooth Fairy was a definite low point in an otherwise amazing film career. While we know the former football player has time and time again played football in at least one scene of his movies, having him as the hockey playing tooth fairy was just weird. Luckily he realized the error of his ways, got into the Fast & Furious franchise and continues to impress us all with his wrestling to acting transition.