Five WWE superstars who tried acting

In an era where you cannot move for a new major Hollywood release that doesn’t feature either The Rock, John Cena or Dave Bautista, it’s also quite fun to remember some of the less successful silver/small screen stints of WWE superstars who tried acting.

It must be said that the forgettable ventures were not necessarily all bad, either. Not everyone can become the highest-paid actor in Hollywood. Or bag their own HBO series. Or appear in multiple Academy Award-winning epics. But they can have some sensational cameos and recurring roles. Or they can star in some horrendously hilarious flops.

Unsurprisingly, given the action-based, scripted drama that WWE’s product is centred around, there are countless WWE Superstars who tried acting. WWE has cast many of their own talents in projects for their own WWE Studios over the years. However, we’re focusing on those stars who have ventured away from the Sports Entertainment juggernaut.

So here’s the faction whose work we decided was worthy of highlighting…

1. Bill Goldberg

Really, it feels a little surreal that big Bill didn’t become a huge Hollywood star off the back of his initial late ’90s run. He was, after all, a phenomenon in WCW. Not to mention one of the very few projects the Atlanta-based promotion executed perfectly. Built like a brick wall, coupled with explosive energy and charisma – why wasn’t he an action star for the ages?

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His ’98-’99 one-two of ‘Love Boat: The Next Wave’ and ‘Universal Soldier: The Return’ is, in hindsight, a quite remarkable accomplishment. And let us not forget the former WCW and Universal Champion’s 2002 role as ‘The Pain King’ in Kim Possible. But it was in 2005 when business picked up. Not only did Goldberg land a starring role in Adam Sandler’s ‘The Longest Yard’, but also a cameo in ‘Desperate Housewives’ of all shows.

Oh, and of course, suiting up as an evil Father Christmas in ‘Santa’s Slay’. But clearly, the pinnacle of the ‘berg’s acting career is his 11-episode stint on ‘The Goldbergs’. The name alone meant it had to happen, didn’t it?

But even so, the multiple-time World Champ still delivered in spades as Coach Nick. An entire spin-off series that spans ten seasons about him, please.

2. Mick Foley

As one of the industry’s all-time greatest storytellers, it is bemusing that Mick Foley has not enjoyed a stellar career on the small or silver screen. The sometime Cactus Jack’s ability to emote brooding intensity, downright psychosis and laugh-out-loud comedy should lend itself to a myriad of major roles. Instead, the three-time WWE Champion has just featured in a smattering of small parts.

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Most notably, the artist formerly known as Dude Love played Jacob in 2019’s massive indie hit ‘The Peanut Butter Falcon’, starring Shia LeBouef and Dakota Johnson. And even more recently, Foley has appeared in CM Punk’s ‘Heels’ as the brilliantly named Dick Valentino. His big-screen debut didn’t actually arrive until 2007, in ‘Anamorph’ with Willem Dafoe. Foley’s appearance was as an antique store owner, with many fans expecting his Hollywood career to evolve further from there. While that didn’t happen, we should still be forever grateful for the Mankind cameos in ‘Boy Meets World’ and, of course, 30 Rock.

3. Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart

The Hitman has had pretty regular work in television and film since 1995 that has slipped quietly under the radar. Hardcore fans will, of course, be familiar with his work outside of wrestling, but most WWE fans have no idea The Excellence of Execution has so many acting credits to his name.

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It all began for the two-time Hall of Famer in 1995. He was cast in American Western ‘Lonesome Dove: The Series’, followed by ‘Lonesome Dove: The Outlaw Years’. As Luther Root, he became a recurring character in both series. Just over a year later was perhaps his all-time career highlight, however. A guest appearance on The Simpsons, as himself, as the buyer of Mr Burns’ mansion, complete with an all-timer of a line where he belittles Springfield’s resident billionaire as a ‘pitiful pencil-neck geek’. Since then, there have been multiple roles for The Hitman. Although nothing as mainstream as The Simpsons, he’s kept plugging away with such gigs as The Genie in a TV movie version of Aladdin, a DJ in multiple award-nominated series The Detour, Private Investigator Tom Jenkings in upcoming horror flick ‘Tales From The Deadzone’ opposite ’80s icon Corey Feldman and, perhaps most brilliantly, as himself in an episode of Trailer Park Boys’ Jail Shorts.

4. Kevin Nash

How does a CV featuring Sabrina The Teenage Witch, John Wick, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the Magic Mike series sound? Pretty unstoppable, right? ‘Big Sexy’ doesn’t mess around when it comes to landing roles in Hollywood.

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The five-time World Champion and founding member of the nWo has been working steadily on our screens for 30 years now. And he’s showing no signs of slowing down, even as he enters his sixties. In 2020 he starred opposite Alec Baldwin and Malin Akerman in ‘Chick Fight’ and recently wrapped as Gus in the Channing Tatum-led ‘Dog’. Now, all we need is another Ninja Turtles reboot with ‘Big Daddy Cool’ once again assuming the role of Super Shredder, and we can get this man the Academy Award he so richly deserves.

5. ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper

The late, great ‘Hotrod’ is not only known as arguably the greatest villain in WWE history but also a trailblazer for wrestlers getting into Hollywood. While Hulk Hogan’s turn as Thunderlips in Rocky III certainly catapulted him into the mainstream, Piper actually became a critical success. The Hulkster churned out flops like ‘No Holds Barred’ and ‘Suburban Commando’. ‘Hotrod’ played the lead in cult classic ‘They Live’, a film by the legendary director John Carpenter.

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And while ‘They Live’ regularly gets referenced today, most notably for its iconic fight scenes, the former Intercontinental Champion also put out two of the most memorable cameos in modern television history in the last few years before his untimely passing in 2015. As Da Maniac on ‘Always Sunny in Philadelphia’, Piper became beloved by a new era of fans and further cemented himself as a generational crossover star. Seriously, go out of your way to watch his two episodes. Immediately. Like, now. Why are you still here?

Of course, countless other WWE superstars tried acting, Stone Cold Steve Austin being the most prominent name, with his multitude of credits in major movies and TV shows. Sasha Banks has recently turned heads as part of ‘The Mandalorian’ cast. Andre The Giant was immensely memorable in the classic ‘Princess Bride’. Becky Lynch turned heads as herself in ‘Billions’. And who can forget Macho Man Randy Savage in ‘Spiderman’? Or Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura in Arnold Schwarzenegger gems Predator and The Running Man?

WWE and Hollywood have been a perfect match for decades, and, judging by the recent monster success of Rock, Cena and Batista, it will remain that way for years to come.

Featured Image Credit: Getty