It’s always interesting when wrestlers appear on regular television shows. Most of the time, it’s just to play a wrestler, or a generic bodyguard, or some other role that requires a big, muscular guy for the heroes to beat up (or get beat up by). But sometimes, they actually get to act, and it turns out that people whose entire job is to pretend that they’re fighting on a weekly basis sometimes actually have decent acting skills. Over the years, a handful of guest starring roles by professional wrestlers have been downright memorable, and not in a bad way. So, we scoured the Internet to try and find examples of wrestlers showing off their acting abilities in some pretty interesting roles.
10. Vader on Boy Meets World
For those old enough to remember the old TGIF lineup, Boy Meets World was a cornerstone of the ABC programming block for years. In fact, it was so popular it eventually spawned a sequel, Girl Meets World, which can now be seen on ABC Family and is almost as good as the original. But we digress. The show is also notable for some actors in minor roles who would go on to become sizable stars in the future, especially Adam Scott (star of Parks and Recreation and Party Down) and Ethan Suplee (who has gone on to a variety of supporting movie roles, and also the sitcom My Name Is Earl), both of whom played schoolyard bullies that would terrorize the main characters. Most importantly, Suplee’s character found some popularity as a surprisingly deep and erudite fellow, and eventually was given more of a recurring role. Over the course of his involvement in the show, it was revealed that his father was none other than WWE Superstar Vader. The big man would make several appearances on the show, proving that he actually had some pretty good comedic abilities.
9. Triple H on The Drew Carey Show
The Drew Carey Show was a sitcom that got weirdly popular for some reason in the 90s but then disappeared forever, was never really released on DVD, and can’t be found on Netflix or any streaming services. It’s odd, really. At any rate, in the show, the characters start their own microbrewery, and somehow luck their way into getting popular professional wrestler The Disciplinarian (played by Triple H when he still had really, really long hair and was not yet The Game) to act as a spokesman for their product. Things spiral out of control, The Disciplinarian starts dating one of Drew’s friends, then he gets in trouble for being drunk, and in the end, everything goes to hell, because the show was about losers who screw up all the time and never get anywhere in life. But it was funny, we swear! Potentially in exchange for having Triple H appear, Drew Carey would go one to enter the 2001 Royal Rumble, which he would then somehow parlay into a WWE Hall of Fame induction. A popular theory is that Vince told them to get the guy who hosted The Price Is Right because of his great stint as guest host of Raw, and nobody told him that Bob Barker had retired.
8. Lita on Dark Angel
Hey, remember Jessica Alba? Well, before the terrible Fantastic Four movies (no, not that one, the ones before that) basically tanked her acting career, she was one of Hollywood’s hottest young stars, mostly thanks to the critically-acclaimed but woefully short-lived sci-fi TV show (why yes, it did air on Fox, how did you know?) Dark Angel. Created and directed by James Cameron, who you might know from some of the most awesome movies ever made (also Avatar and Titanic, but we’ll give him a pass on those). The show centered around Max, a genetically enhanced young woman who had escaped from her creators and spends her time fighting them, usually at night while wearing a lot of black leather. And because WWE was white-hot at the time, they sent their own action girl, Lita, as a guest star. Lita’s appearance on the show was notable not so much for her on-screen work, but the fact that she suffered a massive shoulder injury during a stunt and was sidelined for a good long time. In any event, watch the promotional video below and listen to Oscar-winning director James Cameron talk seriously about the reality of professional wrestling compared to TV and movies.
7. Bret Hart on The Simpsons
Did you know that, way back in the 90s, The Simpsons was one of the best shows on TV? Hard to believe, we know, but it was true. Being a guest star on The Simpsons used to be a big deal for celebrities, unlike modern episodes, where cameo appearances happen roughly every six seconds (don’t quote us on that, we can’t actually prove it). To this day, however, Bret Hart remains the only professional wrestler to appear on the show in a speaking role. That’s almost unbelievable, given that his appearance took place when wrestling, and WWE, was in a down period, and you would think that bigger stars like The Rock, Steve Austin, and John Cena would seem like shoe-ins for guest spots. It should be noted, however, that the segment he appears in seems to suggest that the writers actually didn’t know or care who Bret Hart was, and scripted a scene that would have worked for any generic wrestler. Still, it was from when the the show was actually funny, so it’s a great scene anyway.
6. The Miz on Psych
Due to their partnership with the USA Network, WWE would often provide their Superstars for guest appearances on the network’s original programming. And none of the guest spots were more appropriate than the one played by The Miz on the criminally under-rated Psych, about a man with photographic memory who pretends to be psychic so he can solve crimes. Seriously, it was really good and had Corbin Bernsen. Anyway, in a role that should have felt right at home for the former reality star turned pro wrestler, The Miz played a contestant on a Bachelor-style reality show. And, because this sort of thing usually happens when pro wrestlers are cast in guest spots, it turns out he has some anger issues and beats up the main characters when they reveal that he got onto the show despite already having a girlfriend. Also, Wayne Brady is the host of the show, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t watch it anyway.
5. The Rock, Ken Shamrock, and The Hardys on That 70’s Show
It seems like an odd choice to have WWE Superstars from the 90’s appear on a show set twenty years earlier, but the way it was handled is incredibly smooth and also hilarious. Eric Foreman, his father Red, and the rest of the gang somehow end up with tickets to go see the local wrestling event (while the gym they attend is decked out in the classic WWF block logo, the company didn’t actually exist in that form until the 80’s). Decked out in ridiculous mullets, Matt and Jeff Hardy put on a brief wrestling match, and the perpetually intense Ken Shamrock (also wearing a horrible, but era-appropriate wig), gets perhaps the funniest line of the night, responding to Red’ exhortations to get back in the ring with an exasperated “I give, and I give!”. But, to the shock of absolutely no one, the performance of the show has to go to The Rock, in the role as his own father, Rocky Johnson (and accompanied by another legendary wrestler, WWE Hall of Famer Ernie “Big Cat” Ladd, playing his manager), complaining about “midget bites” and talking about his dreams about the great future his son will have.
4. Mick Foley on Avatar: The Last Airbender
No, not the terrible movie, the awesome Nickelodeon cartoon that the terrible movie was based on. In the second season, the main characters find themselves travelling through the Earth Kingdom, which is noted for its military might and strength-based martial arts. An episode about Earth Kingdom warriors who fight for the entertainment of an audience of rabid fans and a big gold belt was clearly a logical direction for the plot, and sure enough, that’s what happened. And of course, one of the advertised stars of this fighting league is The Boulder, an incredibly popular and charismatic Superstar with a massive ego and crowd-pleasing arsenal of moves. Sound familiar? Well, unfortunately, The Rock was probably busy, so they got Mick Foley to provide his own take on the parody version of the Most Electrifying Man in Sports Entertainment. The result is pure magic, with Foley capturing the mannerisms of The Rock while allowing his own goofy persona to shine through at the same time.
3. Edge on Haven
Being forced to retire at a relatively young age actually seems to have worked out well for Edge, who had already turned his rock star good looks into a guest spot on the Stephen King-created Haven as a character named Dwight. Once it became apparent that he was completely out of the ring, he was brought back to the show for a recurring role (which also led to a guest appearance from his best friend and former tag team partner Christian). In his role in the under-rated sci-fi drama, Edge showed off the charisma and quick wit that made him one of the top Superstars of his era, and his performance opened the door up for even more roles. Most recently, he appeared on wildly popular CW superhero show The Flash as Atom Smasher, and while it was only a one-off role, it suggests that decent acting roles may continue to find their way to the former Rated R Superstar.
2. Steve Austin on Nash Bridges
While Steve Austin was recovering from neck surgery, WWE found him a recurring role on the cheesy but entertaining cop show Nash Bridges starring Don Johnson, Cheech Marin, and one of the female lifeguards from Baywatch (we know, it was Yasmine Bleeth, you don’t have to e-mail us). Austin played Jake Cage, a renegade cop who rode a motorcycle and worked in Fugitive Retrieval. Mostly, he beat people up when the plot required. Actually, the character was pretty interesting, and Austin was so ridiculously popular that there were rumors (which Austin later confirmed) that a spin-off starring the character was in the works. Obviously, that never happened, in large part because Austin recovered enough to resume a full-time wrestling career and wanted to focus on that while he was still the biggest star in the industry. It’s hard to blame him, but still, the concept of a Jake Cage television show remains intriguing to this day.
1. The Rock, Triple H, Mick Foley, and The Big Show on Saturday Night Live
Many point to The Rock’s first hosting gig on Saturday Night Live as the moment when people realized that he could be a big Hollywood star some day. At this point, though, he was still a full-time wrestler, and the hosting job was part of the promotional push for WrestleMania 2000, where Rock was competing in a fatal four-way main event along with Mick Foley, The Big Show, and WWF Champion Triple H, all of whom tagged along. The cold open, in fact, featured Vince McMahon ordering all 3 of The Rock’s opponents not to mess up the show despite their upcoming match. The Rock was pretty spectacular in all his segments, especially an ad for Nicotrel, the stop smoking aid that involves a big guy named Nic Cotrel beating the crap out of you when you smoke (and also stealing your wife). The other three wrestlers also held their own, randomly showing up in several segments. In fact, The Big Show was so entertaining that they turned him into a face character the night after WrestleMania so he could exercise his comedy skills (leading to one of wrestling’s greatest moments, The Immortal Showster, at Backlash 2000). The Rock, of course, would go on to become an “A” list celebrity and host SNL several more times.