For years, movies have turned to wrestlers for some parts. It makes sense as wrestling is basically acting in many ways and if a guy is hot in a ring, he should be able to do it on screen. For the most part, they’re picked for musclemen and tough types to show off their skills. Mexico has a long history of mixing wrestling with film as shown by the career of El Santo. Various others have followed, the biggest being The Rock who’s now one of the biggest names in Hollywood. It can be fun to enjoy seeing them in some roles but other times, it can be annoying. Often, the wrestler is turned into a huge joke while at other times, they come off just stupid and miscast in the role.
It’s weird how some guys who can be terrific on the mic on wrestling shows just come off flat in a movie. Even those who have charisma are stuck in thankless parts and looking worse because of it. For every great flick with a wrestler, there’s several terrible ones and almost no one who’s tried their hand at acting has been spared some bad roles. A few are just more notable than others for how terrible they are and how ridiculous that wrestler comes off as. Here are 15 of the most embarrassing roles pro wrestlers have had on films and shows not everyone can enjoy the Rock’s major success.
15 John Cena - Fred The Movie
The 16-time WWE Champion has actually had some good success in movies, winning rave reviews for his role in “Trainwreck” and “Daddy’s Home.” But he also had to put up with this rather idiotic kids movie. For some bizarre reason, Nickelodeon thought they could turn Lucas Cruikshank’s viral hit Fred into a regular star. It didn’t take as what’s okay for a short online video isn’t for a major show. But they kept it up with him, including a couple of TV movies. The first was actually intended for theaters but Nickelodeon found no takers to distribute it so it ended up being shown on cable.
Fred is the classic case of the biggest geek in school convinced he’s the coolest guy around and trying to win a girl who could care less about him. Cena popped in as Fred’s imaginary dad with speeches that were basically Cena promos and takes on “The Marine.” Incredibly, Cena appeared in two sequels to this, each one even nuttier. All the movies are horribly unfunny with a bad lead character yet Cena kept it up for an act that just adds to his legions of haters.
14 Jesse Ventura - Ricochet
Denzel Washington wasn’t always the mega-star we know today. In 1991, he was still fresh off his first Oscar win and trying his hand at bigger game. “Ricochet” has Washington as a rookie cop who becomes a hero by stopping a crook (John Lithgow) while only in his underwear. That launches his career from detective to a district attorney. Years later, Lithgow breaks out of prison and embarks on a plan to frame and disgrace Washington for revenge.
We see Lithgow in jail taking part in a competition where prisoners face off with swords and paper “armor.” His opponent is Jesse Ventura as a brute who at first has the advantage. But when Lithgow sees a photo of Washington on the newspaper Ventura is wearing, he’s enraged and stabs Ventura to death. Yep, the former governor of Minnesota who famously said “I ain’t got time to bleed” is taken out by the dad from “3rd Rock From the Sun.” That has to count as embarrassing.
13 Mr. Kennedy - Behind Enemy Lines: Colombia
Ken Kennedy is one of the biggest cases ever of a guy with so much potential but losing it due to various injuries and suspensions. Tellingly, this WWE release wasn’t put out until after Kennedy was fired from the company. He plays the leader of a SEAL team framed for the murders of the leaders of both sides of a deadly civil war. Cut off and on the run, they have to survive and find the evidence to prove their innocence. Kennedy may have the look of a soldier but his acting skills are quite flat and you just can’t buy him as the boss.
He might have been better cast as the questioning second, more the arrogant jerk type keeping to his persona. Making him the main hero doesn’t fit him as well and it doesn’t help with a bad script and rough editing. The movie was about as forgettable as Kennedy’s WWE career and yet still better than what he had in TNA.
12 Paige - Santa’s Little Helper
If you’re casting a guy to play a mega-jerk on screen, you can’t go wrong with The Miz. The man is a master heel and fans love to hate him so WWE must have thought him a good pick for this family comedy. He plays a ruthless businessman who enjoys screwing people over only to get hit with this himself when he’s fired in a corporate powerplay. Since he’s been living large, he loses his car, house and girlfriend. Enter Santa Claus who wants him to become his special assistant, named the Ho-Ho-Ho.
Miz actually does a good job as a jerk learning to be better. But the same can’t be said of Paige, playing an elf who wants the job herself. With a terrible mix of her usual accent, Paige just comes off flat, no vibe to herself and seeing her in elf ears and a Santa hat is frankly embarrassing. It takes a lot to make a woman as hot as Paige unattractive but this does it and you want to give the moviemakers a big lump of coal.
11 11 Roddy Piper - Hell Comes to Frogtown
Piper had one of the best roles of any wrestler in movies in the sci-fi classic “They Live.” Sadly, he also had to endure a truly horrible sci-fi flick with a horrendous title. Like many “Mad Max” rip-offs, it focuses on a post-nuclear wasteland future where fertile people are sold like important prizes. Piper is a bounty hunter nomad named Sam Hell (really) who comes to a town so named because of mutated amphibians living there. He’s hired to rescue some captive women but soon realizes he’s on the wrong side.
The movie is rather rough already, clearly made on a shoestring budget. Piper seems to be totally out of it, as if having just realized what film he signed up for and doing his best but clearly not right for the part. It’s a shame given his amazing charisma and talent that Piper can’t make this anything but a cheap knock-off movie and a film still regarded as a cult fave just for how terrible it is.
10 Seth Rollins, Sharknado 4
WWE has spent a long time trying to sell Roman Reigns as the future of the company. But fans just aren’t buying it, unable to get behind him at all. Meanwhile, Seth Rollins has gotten much more success, his run as champion terrific and boosting him up nicely. Rollins has tried his hand at branching out, including some film appearances. One of them was in the fourth chapter of the infamously cheesy sci-fi movies. Rollins was one of many making a cameo and once more showing that while a guy can be very charismatic on WWE programming, he can be flat in a real movie. He’s part of the commando team helping prevent this monster storm at Mount Rushmore and says a line about “giving a superkick” to any sharks which doesn’t quite fit Rollins at all. It’s a small but rough bit and shows Rollins is better suited to The Shield than in big screen movies.
9 Brodus Clay - No One Lives
Brodus Clay got hurt a bit in WWE. In NXT, he was pushed as a monster figure and looked great doing it and was promising as he moved to the main roster. But instead, he was turned into a joke of a dancing goofball and pushed down majorly. He eventually left for a bad TNA run and showed that WWE dropped the ball with him. But Clay’s antics don’t work out much better in movies. “No One Lives” focuses on a group of people on a road trip who are bank robbers clashing with a couple. Clay shows up as a gas station owner who presses them on their missing loot. He causes one woman to kill herself before he in turn is killed. This then leads to the bizarre bit of a gang member carving the guy up and hiding in its corpse to attack someone else. Yep, being made out as a meat puppet has to rank as an embarrassing film role.
8 The Rock - The Mummy Returns
Yes, it was the movie debut of a man who has since become one of Hollywood’s biggest box office stars. But in many ways, it wasn’t the best start. In the sequel to the hit action film, The Rock only shows up in the first few minutes as the Scorpion King, the warrior of an ancient time. He just pops up to be a big warrior, does a brief battle scene, then is struck by a curse at the height of his power. This leads to The Rock lending his face and voice to a more monstrous version of the king later in the movie. To this day, it’s one of the worst visual effects ever seen in movies and widely mocked by anyone who’s seen the picture. Thankfully, The Rock got a better job in his own spin-off movie, with his performance leading to his huge success but his first role nearly killed his career right off.
7 Edge - Highlander Endgame
In 2000, Adam Copeland was rising up as he and Christian formed a fantastic tag team with epic feuds with the Hardyz. Their act was terrific and enjoyed big success to win over fans. Edge decided to move that into some movies but his first foray wasn’t that good. “Highlander: Endgame” was an entry in the long-running movie/TV franchise of Immortals engaging in duels across the centuries. In one flashback, heroes Duncan and Connor Macleod find Edge as the leader of a gang of bandits doing fake taxes in the 18th century. This leads to a brief fight scene with the Immortals victorious. Edge sure has the hair for that time but his attempt at an accent is laughable and the whole thing lasts just two minutes. Edge promoted it in the ring (complete with a fake “award”) but the movie bombed and thus has to rank as a disappointment for him.
6 Triple H - The Chaperone
It’s become a running gag in WWE for guys to mock Triple H on this 2011 comedy. He puts up with it as even he admits it was a bad movie. He stars as a wheel man and retired criminal who wants to go straight for his daughter (Ariel Winter) and reunite with his wife. He decides to take up a job as the chaperone for his daughter’s field trip to New Orleans, handling driving the bus and putting up with obnoxious kids. But his former gang wants payback on him for deserting them and gives chase, putting the kids at risk.
It’s a stupid movie and Hunter looks totally out of place helping them out and trying to do either action stuff or handling the comedy aspects. It’s no wonder he puts up with massive ribs over the whole thing and more embarrassing than what he has done in the ring in the past.
5 Hulk Hogan - Mr. Nanny
Hulk Hogan sure tried but he could never achieve real success in movies. He had his shares of bad flicks and ultra- bombs but “Mr. Nanny” is still one of his absolute worst. He plays off himself, a former pro wrestler who hates his forced retirement and agrees to take on a job as bodyguard for a tech millionaire who’s developed a special chip. But it turns out the job is really taking care of his kids who are brats. Thus we have Hogan doing various antics out of “Home Alone” and other dumb bits. One of the worst has to be him dressed in a tutu to help a kid with her ballet lessons and looking stupid. Throw in an espionage plot and other bits and it’s really one of the stupidest roles ever. Yet another bomb, it shows that for all his stardom in wrestling, Hogan just can’t conquer the movie world.
4 The Undertaker - Suburban Commando
One of Roger Ebert’s most famously savage reviews was on this 1991 comedy where he basically acknowledged that after watching it, “I felt tired of going to the movies.” Hogan is an arrogant intergalactic bounty hunter slammed by his bosses for messing up jobs. He’s thus exiled to Earth and ends up becoming the border for a family. It’s a rather embarrassing role in many ways with stupid comedy and Hogan looking ridiculous in his outfit. A plotline has him being hunted by a pair of rival hunters and one of them is The Undertaker. He wasn’t as well known back then so often missed until later. The joke is he’s silent and brooding but when finally speaking, does so in a high-pitched voice. It’s a forgettable bit and just shows how bad this movie is.
3 The Big Show - Jingle All the Way
For some times, Conan O’Brien had a segment on his show where a photo of a celebrity was shown and their lips moving like the old “Clutch Cargo” cartoons. A popular face was Arnold Schwarzenegger who would often bring up his “holiday classic” 1996 comedy. Arnie plays an overworking dad who on Christmas Eve realizes he forgot to buy his son an ultra-hot toy as a present. His attempts to find it are filled with wild twists and turns as he competes with another dad (Sinbad) for the prize. In one scene, the duo heads to a warehouse that’s a “black market” toy barn run by a variety of off-duty Santas. They quickly realize they’re being offered cheap knock-off toys and a brawl is on. It’s a wild bit as Arnie tosses some guys aside but then up comes a huge Santa who easily beats him down. Yes, it’s The Big Show under a big beard and while he’s had numerous movie roles, this is one of the goofier.
2 Kevin Nash - DOA
Video game movies have a bad track record and this is no exception. It’s based on a series of games that mix in fighting with volleyball playing and in both cases, was heavily criticized for its reliance on flaunting hot women. So it's no surprise the movie version would build on that. A group of women are pulled into a fight on an island with Jaime Pressley as a gal who wants to get out of the family business of being pro wrestlers. Kevin Nash is her dad who keeps trying to get her back in. His role basically consists of popping up out of nowhere and often embarrassing her. That includes walking in on Pressley with other gals and jumping to the conclusion she’s gay. They even have a fight where Nash is as slow and ponderous as he is in the ring and easily outmatched by Pressley. It’s a small role but annoyingly bad and showcases how this entire film is a total letdown and proof not even a slew of hot women can save a film.
1 Anyone in Ready to Rumble
This was supposed to be a great thing for WCW, a big-screen movie to boost their brand up. Too bad it turned out to be totally horrible, unfunny and presented wrestling fans as morons who believe it’s all for real. The plot has Oliver Platt play Jimmy King, a champion wrestler who’s double-crossed by his promoter and crushed in the ring. David Arquette and Scott Caan are super fans (and super dumb) who encourage him to get back in the ring. The plot is idiotic with the writing and even the presence of numerous WCW stars can’t save it. Goldberg is lost, DDP actually comes off non-charismatic and Sting just looks bored as hell. It was meant to give WCW a big push but instead was a huge bomb. Worse, of course, was that to promote it, WCW gave Arquette a run as champion which helped kill the promotion. But the fact remains this was a total mess and thus has to rank as an embarrassment to any wrestler in it.