Like pretty much any entertainment medium, the kind-of-sport of professional wrestling yearns for crossover appeal, and all its potential to generate glorious cash money. So positioning performers known only for their inherently goofy actions in farcical athletic contests in more conventional, “legitimate” forms of pop media makes nothing but the most obvious sense.
Since the best musical product wrestling has managed to produce is, astoundingly, John Cena (his rap album got critical points for being not as terrible as expected, which is more than can be said for Jeff Hardy’s gussied up butt rock), the shadowy Illuminati overlords dictating the actions of all entertainers have injected several superstars of the squared circle with the acting bug. You already know the success stories: The Rock is a bonafide movie star and Adam “Edge” Copeland has carved out a second career as a sci-fi/fantasy character actor. A few wrestlers have done okay as part-time or even non-actors: Bret Hart is a member of the elite cadre of Simpsons guest stars and Kevin Nash showed up in 2012’s sleeper hit and beefcake bonanza, Magic Mike.
Meanwhile, the annuals of history have forgotten or obscured some wrestler cameos in movies and TV, either because the walk-ons were so small, too long ago for people to remember, and/or because said cameos occurred in media artifacts so terrible everyone exposed to their vileness opted to forget they ever existed.
Here, we explore 15 wrestler cameos that we either barely recalled or uncovered via entirely too many hours flailing around the online rabbit hole that is Wikipedia. We probably missed at least a handful - and much like the WWE itself, deliberately left out Hulk Hogan, 'cause everyone already knows Hogan has "acted" in truckloads of crap (No disrespect to Thunder In Paradise. We mean "crap" in the general, not derogatory sense). However, until Bray Wyatt guest stars as Stephanie Tanner’s eccentric new boyfriend “Windham” on Fuller House, this is the weirdest we could come up with.
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12 Kane on Smallville
These days, all anyone wants to know is who would win if Superman fought Batman. However, a decade ago, the question on inquiring minds worldwide was “Who would win a fight between Superman….and Kane?!” The burning curiosity of all was finally put to rest on Smallville, when it was determined that of course Superman can beat up Kane.
“Of course Superman can beat up Kane. Superman can beat up Kane really easily,” said Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel, during a seance conducted before the 2007 broadcast of "Combat," the episode in which Kane and Clark duke it out.
“I mean, Batman’s got his peak-human intellect and myriad gadgets and resources, so I can see how Batman might be able to take out Superman, mano-e-mano. But Kane? Kane is basically just a big dumb evil guy. Superman trounces 11 big stupid nasty lugs like Kane before breakfast. Why are we even having this conversation? What’s wrong with you people?” - Direct Quote for Jerry Siegel. Don't believe us? Well....don't Google it, just take our word for it.
14. The Big Show in Jingle All The Way
Not unlike a handful of other entries on this list, Paul “The Big Show” Wight has done alright for himself appearing in television and films. Luckily for him, this means he’ll have something to fall back on should he ever chose to hang up his wrestling boots, once and for all. How the WWE universe will survive without The Big Show's continued presence on their beloved pretend fighting programs remains to be seen.
In 1996's Jingle All The Way, a “family” holiday comedy produced solely for the purposes of giving Arnold Schwarzenegger several million dollars, Wight plays a member of criminal syndicate that disguises themselves as mall Santas. In his scene, Wight accidentally punches a dwarf member of his gang, who impossibly flies across two rooms. It’s supposed to be funny because Wight is bigger than most people and the dwarf is smaller than most people. It's sort of like if there was a fat character in Jingle all the Way, and a joke was based on him ordering too much food at a restaurant - which there is, for all we know.
Side-note: WWE Studios produced Jingle All The Way 2 and Santino Marellla is in it. We don't know why this happened. We're pretty sure we don't want to know.
13. Scott Hall and Sabu In Big Money Rustlas
One might predict an Insane Clown Posse production featuring "The Most Homicidal, Suicidal, Genocidal Athlete" in the known universe, the onetime Razor Ramon, Jason “Jay” Mewes, and Ron Jeremy would make for a brainless, but not necessarily painful, viewing experience. Sadly, 2010’s Big Money Rustlas is all about subjecting viewers to new kinds of agony. Early in this wet, stinky dump of a movie, a noticeably bloated Scott Hall offers some useless exposition. During the end credits, Sabu walks on screen, points at the ceiling, and immediately gets shot.
I don’t want to say the reason the cast and crew thought anything about this film was a good idea was because they were all doing hard drugs. There’s no tangible evidence to support that claim. But I will strongly imply that Jason Mewes, Scott Hall, and Sabu are all in Big Money Rustlas because they were doing hard drugs every day, all the time, at that time.
11 Tie Between The Ultimate Solution in Batman & Robin and Big Sky in X-Men
Before 2015’s Fantastic Four and 2011’s Green Lantern, Joel Schumacher’s Batman & Robin plunged the entire superhero genre into hitherto unheard of depths of unwatchableness. Robert "Jeep" Swenson - who competed in WCW under the terribly misguided alias “The Final Solution” before rightfully pissed off Jewish people convinced WCW to call him the “Ultimate Solution” instead - had the misfortune of playing a neanderthal-like rendering of Bane that little resembled his badass basis from the comic books. Swenson died a few months after Batman & Robin’s theatrical unveiling, so for his sake, let's hope he never found time to see the film, or George Clooney's bat nipples, before shuffling loose the mortal coil.
Oddly enough, another obscure WCW wrestler wound up helping to redeem superhero movies a few years later. Before Tyler Mane snarled, slashed, and got thrown off the Statue of Liberty in X-Men, he tagged with Vinnie Vegas as “Big Sky” in a previous life. Mane played Sabretooth and went on to take up the mantle of Michael Myers in the Halloween remakes. So even though his wrestling career didn't pan out, at least Mane didn't turn into Kevin Nash's answer to Marty Jannetty.
10 Rob Van Dam on The X-Files
Every now and again, The X-Files threw up its hands on self-seriousness and dire stakes, and produced a quirky 45 minutes that had nothing to do with shadowy government conspiracies that may or may not involve extraterrestrials. Some of the oddball episodes, “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space” and “Humbug” for instance, standout as series highlights. Then there are misfires like “Fight Club.” Scribed by Chris Carter (likely within a few hours, and possibly while very drunk) “Fight Club” has no connection or similarity to the popular film and book that inspired its title, but it sure has lots of Kathy Griffin trying the best she can, but pretty much still failing, to play a character who isn’t Kathy Griffin.
For some reason, “Fight Club” ends with a wrestling match and Carter and Co. were lucky enough to catch Rob Van Dam right around the time of ECW's closing, but right before his WWE debut. Van Dam plays the opponent for Griffin’s paramour “Titanic” Bert Zupanic, and while it's kind of rad to see the Whole F@#$king Show in one of the greatest TV shows of all time, its unfortunate that he couldn't have been in a better episode. (Available on Netflix - Season 7, Episode 20)
9 CM Punk and Colt Cabana on Maron
Having both been guests on Marc Maron’s beloved WTF podcast, it was a matter of time before the longtime friends and ex-Ring of Honor standouts popped onto IFC for a cameo on the Maron TV show.
This particular bit of Maron offers two levels of commentary on CM Punk’s transition to mixed martial arts. Speaking to Cabana, Maron cites Punk’s UFC ambition as evidence that "The Best In The World" has “snapped.” But tellingly, the headline on the IFC website previewing the episode advertises “MMA Star CM Punk,” as opposed to “WWE Star” or “Wrestling Legend” CM Punk. We can speculate that Punk is insisting on being described as a mixed martial artist, not a famous wrestler, to put as much distance from his storied history as possible. However, if that is the case, serious about reinventing his image though he may be, CM Punk won't complain if Marc Maron wants to poke fun at him.
8 Lita on Dark Angel
As a Joss Whedon loyalist, I devoted 8 p.m. - 10 p.m. on Tuesday to Buffy and Angel back in 2000 and couldn’t be bothered to learn thing one about Angel's timeslot adversary, Dark Angel. Watching the Jessica Alba-vehicle for the first time to research this list, I’ve learned that some stuff on Dark Angel rips off Ghost in The Shell, while other stuff rips off X-Men. I enjoy Ghost In The Shell and X-Men, therefore, I am also predisposed to enjoy Dark Angel, and shall catch a rerun on SyFy next time I'm up at 3 a.m. It actually seems like a fun show.
In “Freak Nation,” Amy “Lita” Dumas plays a mercenary/bounty hunter-ish individual tasked with hunting down Alba’s character, “Max.” Legend has it that Alba’s stunt double rolled out of Lita’s hurracarrana incorrectly, forcing the Hall of Famer to undergo serious neck surgery that likely mandated that she tone down her high-flying style. So if you’re mad that Lita moonsaulted less after 2000, you have James Cameron to blame.
7 The Undertaker on Downtown
MTV’s Downtown stands alongside Undergrads and Clone High among the network’s specious early ‘00s attempts to revive its Liquid Television era of glorious, off-kilter animation. All three shows were canceled before their second seasons, but Downtown bears the unique distinction of failing because Mission Hill - a far superior cartoon also featuring 20-something urban misfits navigating their purgatorial post-collegiate phases - already existed on The WB. Incidentally, Mission Hill didn’t survive its first season, either.
Episode five, “The Con,” takes place at a comic book convention. The jokes all hinge on dated nerd culture stereotypes, while the plot revolves around a shy, ectomorphic, dweeby “nice guy” angling to land his manic pixie dream goth chick, obstructed by her obligatory overly macho boyfriend. The whole show is pretty icky, but thankfully, The Undertaker swoops in to offer us some self-deprecating humor and a reprieve from our Downtown-induced cringing fits.
Ministry Television Runner Up: The Undertaker on Celebrity Death Match
7. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin” on Dilbert
Not coincidentally while SmackDown shared a network with the office-humor-related comic strip turned cartoon, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin sauntered onto the twenty seventh episode of UPN’s Dilbert. “The Rattlesnake,” plays himself, presiding as judge over a court case in which Dilbert seeks to retain custody of the part-alien, part-hillbilly, part-engineer, part-cow, part-robot fetus miraculously gestating within his male, wombless body. Despite the appearance of Stone Cold, then at the height of his popularity, the episode failed to resonate with wrestling fans, who found its premise overly mundane and down-to-earth compared to the Vince Russo storylines they were accustomed to at that point.
6 Mankind on Boy Meets World
Everybody wants to be friends with Mick Foley. Most people - let’s say, maybe 70 percent of people - wouldn’t be opposed to befriending Danielle Fishel. So it was all but certain that the erstwhile Cactus Jack and the former and once again Topanga Lawrence would become besties after Foley guest starred on Boy Meets World in 1999.
Here’s what isn’t so certain: What in the sam hill is supposed to be happening on Foley’s BMW episode? For some reason, three women and two men have decided to resolve a dispute with an impromptu wrestling match in a kitchen. Foley appears - in full Mankind regalia - out of the aether, to serve as referee. Does Mankind have magic teleportation powers in the Boy Meets World universe? Is his character supposed to be a demigod of some sort? What kind of adult humans settle their arguments by slamming each other’s faces into cupcakes? How did Boy Meets World stay on the air for so long after puberty mutated Ben Savage into a hideous nose monster? Why isn’t Rider Strong in this scene? Rider Strong should be in every scene!
I even read this episode synopsis and I still have no idea what’s happening in “For Love and Apartments.” Anyway, Vader appeared on a different, hopefully more comprehensible episode of Boy Meets World. I guess they liked wrestling on Boy Meets World.
5 John Morrison on Super Power Beat Down
Stephen Amell of Arrow has been tapped to put on Casey Jones’s hockey mask for Michael Bay’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2, so we can expect Stardust to find out what it’s like to get hit in the brain with a hockey stick sooner or later. However, Bay and Nickelodeon Studios probably could’ve saved a few bucks by hiring the lesser-known John Hennigan, a.k.a. John Morrison, who’s already demonstrated a knack for portraying the turtles’ overtly sportsmanlike buddy.
Hennigan’s turn as Jones came about in an episode of Super Power Beat Down, a Bat in the Sun YouTube series of comparatively high-budget and professional fan films, in which various fictional characters fight to the death. Among other slobberknockers, they've done Wolverine vs. Predator, The Green Power Ranger vs. Ryu, the highly controversial Batman vs. Darth Vader, and they’re working on finishing Spider-Man vs. Darth Maul. SPBD matched Jones against the similarly unsuperpowered Kick Ass. Both brutality and hilarity ensues.
4 Colt Cabana (Again), Chris Hero, Becky Bayless, Christopher Daniels, Kazarian, JTG, John Morrison (Again), And Probably Some We’re Missing in Wrestling Isn’t Wrestling
Frankly, if you’re a wrestling fan who has yet to absorb Max Landis’s short film Wrestling Isn’t Wrestling, just drop whatever you’re doing and find it.
The American Ultra screenwriter presents a clever, reverent yet tongue-in-cheek biography of Paul Levesque’s Triple H character, beginning from Trips's snooty Connecticut blue blood origins, up through his loss to Daniel Bryan at Wrestlemania XXX. Fan film vet Chloe Dystra plays the crotch-chopping COO, and other female actors round out the rest of the WWE roster. Was Landis aiming for progressive gender-swapping and/or undermining wrestling’s aura of dumbass chest-beating masculinity? Was this movie an excuse to get a bunch of his aspiring actress friends to run around his backyard in minimal spandex costumes? Maybe 60% of one and 40% of the other? At any rate, look closely, and you’ll catch a bunch of real world wrestlers jeering Dystra in crowd shots.
3 "Rowdy" Roddy Piper on Adventure Time
Adventure Time’s staggering alumni of guest stars includes Ron Perlman, Justin Roiland, Keith David, Ming-Na Wen, Lou Ferrigno, Henry Rollins, Mark Hamill, Kristen Schaal, George Takei, Weird Al, Neil Patrick Harris, Lena Dunham, Donald Glover, and that’s cutting the list short to keep this blurb from reading like Adventure Time's IMDB. Naturally, sooner or later, the creators had to tap the late “Rowdy” Roddy Piper to lend his pipes to a character.
Even in his later years when his diction didn’t quite pack the manic wallop of his heyday, Piper’s still unmistakable as Don John the Flame Lord. Don John supports The Flame King in his nefarious efforts to depose the Flame Princess, thereby running afoul of her ex-beau, Finn.
2 Roddy Piper on Super Mario Bros. Super Show
Speaking of Piper’s heyday, in 1989, he dropped by the set of Capt. Lou Albano’s Super Mario Bros. Super Show, in hopes that Luigi could fix a malfunctioning set of bagpipes. Mario’s lesser-known sibling succeeds, but only after some ad libbed slapstick that we all probably thought was hilarious at the time, when we were 5 years old.
It’s Always Sunny In Glasgow Runner-Up: Piper’s most memorable performance in recent years came about on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia as Da Maniac, a proxy for Randy “The Ram” Robinson. Maniac makes his first Always Sunny appearance in “The Gang Wrestlers for the Troops,” in which he freaks everyone out by calling Mac the N-word, then gets hauled away by the police for failure to pay parking tickets. From the back of a cruiser, he shouts “Da Maniac loves ya!” Charlie responds, “We love you too, man.” The moment feels accidentally poignant, given Piper's passing in July of 2015.
1 “Macho Man” Randy Savage on Space Ghost Coast To Coast
Not too many wrestlers in history can match the crossover recognition of the late “Macho Man” Randy Savage. He sold Slim Jims. In the guise of Bonesaw McGraw, he got himself a feature role in Spider-Man. He was Harvard Lampoon’s 1998 Man Of The Year. And he made so many cameo appearances on TV, we’ll probably post a “15 Obscure Macho Man TV Cameos” list at some point. However, without question, Savage ventured his greatest performance outside a wrestling ring as Leonard Ghostal - grandfather of mythic talk show giant Space Ghost - on Space Ghost Coast to Coast. In episode 51, “Piledriver,” Mach conducts a trenchant interview with then-child star Raven Symone, pummels the daylights out of Zorak, and absconds upon a giant saucer crab to administer weekly beatings to designated individuals throughout the galaxy.
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