Pro wrestlers are both athletes and entertainers. Their job is to put on a believable performance inside of the ring, making fans fully immersed in the show. Getting into character night after night requires a certain level of talent and acting ability, which may lead some wrestlers to think they can handle a role on the big screen. For some wrestlers, they have the acting chops to carry a movie under their name, while others... well, they should stick to performing pile-drivers and body slams.
Horror movies seem to be the start for most wrestlers, because horror's a genre where over-the-top acting can be accepted, and it’s a world not too far off from the WWE universe. In honor of Wrestlemania 30, and with the April 11th release of the WWE horror film Oculus, we take a look back at some famous wrestlers who made the career leap to horror movies.
Tommy Dreamer — Army of the Damned
A former Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) and WWE wrestler, the “Innovator of Violence” appeared in the underrated comedy-horror flick as a cop responding to a routine house call with his rookie partner. Soon his character is transformed into something evil, and Dreamer finds himself performing similar acts of violence not far off from his character inside of the ring. Known for making himself bloody in the wrestling world, he takes his role of Officer Carpoza to the extreme, making sure to give viewers what they look for in a fun horror movie.
Bill Goldberg — Santa’s Slay
When Goldberg took on the role of Saint Nick, World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and WWE fans probably worried that the character would tarnish his tough-guy image. However, Goldberg’s Santa was evil and murderous, allowing him to showcase his wrestling skills while killing people in Christmas-themed ways. Goldberg’s acting wasn’t award-worthy, but it was just right for a black horror-comedy about a Satanic Santa Claus on a rampage in a place called Hell Township.
Jesse “The Body” Ventura — Predator
Before Jesse Ventura was rambling on about government conspiracy theories, he was a heel in the World Wrestling Federation (WWF). Ventura’s bully bodybuilder persona was perfect for his small role in 1987’s Predator, alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger as members of a Special Forces team on a rescue mission in Central America. Ventura’s character Blain Cooper was similar to his character inside of the ring, making his performance acceptable in a film filled with other strong male personalities.
Diamond Dallas Page — The Devil’s Rejects
DDP is now into healthy living and yoga (he saved Jake the Snake’s life with it), and has stepped far away from his WCW character. But he still has a specific kind of look that makes him perfect for thuggish roles like his character in The Devil’s Rejects. There was just the right amount of DDP in the film, and his presence helped to add to the hillbilly atmosphere. While he may not be beating the crap out of men in the ring and is instead doing downward dog yoga positions, he still looks like someone you wouldn’t want to mess with, which is exactly what director Rob Zombie was going for when he cast the wrestler for the role.
Paul “Triple H” Levesque — Blade: Trinity
While Triple H is the head of the Authority in the WWE, his power doesn’t mean a thing outside of the WWE Universe. At one point in his career, Triple H and the WWE thought it would be a great idea for him to begin an acting career. This led to his role as a vampire in 2004’s Blade: Trinity, with Wesley Snipes as the title character. Unfortunately for Triple H, he was given dialogue... very cheesy dialogue. His performance as Jarko Grimwood made the wrestler appear more lame than badass, and showed the world just how awful of an actor he was when he couldn’t rely on the Pedigree to save him.
Tyler Mane — Rob Zombie’s Halloween
In case you didn’t notice, the former WCW wrestler is tall as fuck. Like, scary tall. Luckily, Rob took notice of his intimidating appearance and cast him in the classic role of Michael Myers in his 2007 remake of Halloween. Although the role didn’t require a lot of speaking, it required a certain kind of movement and presence in the eyes to present a certain level of evil on the screen. Mane nailed both, and was able to bring Myers to life, bringing his own spin to it and making him appear just as ruthless as the character in the original film.
Glenn “Kane” Jacobs — See No Evil
Now he is known in WWE as the Director of Operations, and has joined the Authority. But before he was “corporate Kane,” he starred in the WWE Studios horror See No Evil as Jacob Goodnight, a reclusive psychopath with serious mommy issues. His character did not speak much, and required more physical acting than anything, which is exactly what wrestlers do inside of the ring. While the story was mediocre and Kane’s face did not really fluctuate through the different emotions his character was supposed to be feeling, his role as the scary bad guy was somewhat believable as he took down punk kids who were trapped in an old hotel.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson — Doom
The Rock is probably the most successful wrestler-turned-actor, and is one of the few who can actually carry a movie with his acting abilities. Hailing from a family of wrestlers, The Rock made a name for himself in the “Attitude Era” of the WWF (now WWE). Using his charisma and charm, The Rock was able to establish himself as a respected actor and now goes by his real name, Dwayne Johnson. But before he dropped “The Rock” from his moniker, he had a role in 2005’s Doom, an adaptation of the famous first-person shooter game. While the movie wasn’t exactly a hit and The Rock’s performance wasn’t spectacular, it’s safe to say that it didn’t do much to hinder his career.
“Rowdy” Roddy Piper — They Live
Although Roddy Piper never held a world championship in the WWE, his talents on the mic helped him stand out to wrestling fans. His strong presence and quick wit helped him land a role in the 1988 John Carpenter classic They Live. His character, Nada, discovers that the world is overrun by aliens who are controlling the human population with subliminal messages. The revelation doesn’t sit well with Nada, and he decides to fight for humankind, leading to one of the best on-screen fight sequences in cinema and the awesomely cool line, “I have come here to chew bubble gum and kick ass… and I’m all out of bubble gum.” Piper’s wrestling persona certainly helped him with his tough-as-nails role in the film, and his experience in the ring helped the actor withstand the physical beatings he would take — and give — in the movie.