The Rock stars in Pain & Gain: Top Five performances by wrestlers


Can you smell what The Rock is cooking? A considerable acting wage, on top of his presumably astronomical wrestling fees. Before the days when the likes of Dwayne Johnson could just pick and choose the roles he prefers, you had to be a pretty special wrestler to make the crossover from TV into movies. As Michael Bay’s Pain & Gain, starring The Rock, steamrolls its way to the top of the US box office, Ross McD looks at some wrestlers who shone outside the ring.

5. Suburban Commando

Everyone remembers the bit where Hulk Hogan feels the old woman’s melons, or the bit where Hulk Hogan has a fight with the talking car alarm, or the bit where Hulk Hogan punches the mime trapped in the ‘invisible forcefield’, or the bit where Hulk Hogan pulls down the tree containing a girl’s stranded cat (“that’s not my cat” – lol), or the bit where Hulk Hogan is threatened by a gang of thugs – who instead of beating him up – “are gonna sue you man – this is the 90s”.

Of course, the main reason this gem will really be remembered is it starred the greatest wrestler of all generations: The Undertaker. That’s right! One of those bounty hunters sent to catch the Hulkster is actually the far less impressive sounding Mark Calloway, who believe it or not, is still wrestling to this day. Talk about undead!

Even harder to believe, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito were originally supposed to play the roles of Hulk Hogan and Christoper Lloyd

4. Rocky III

While most wrestlers dream of making the leap from the ring to the big screen, very few do it the other way round. After being spotted on America’s Toughest Bouncers (yeah they’ve been making reality TV that long), Sylvester Stallone offered Mr T a role in Rocky III, originally a bit part, which eventually became that of the iconic Clubber Lang. Unfortunately, we never got to see Lang and Thunderlips square off, but Hulk Hogan would eventually recruit him as a WWF tag team partner three years later at WrestleMania. Mr T kept up the boxing shtick, even having a bout against Rowdy Roddy Piper, who himself just barely missed this list for his ass-kicking, normally bubble gum-chewing turn in John Carpenter’s They Live.

3. Man On The Moon

Who else could play Jerry The King Lawler but Jerry The King Lawler himself? I admit I knew feck all about comedian Andy Kaufmann the first time I watched this film, so it was a fascinating “is he/isn’t he?” insight into the various pisstakes that were his life. Not only did Jerry Lawler play a very convincing Jerry Lawler, I thoroughly believed his and Kaufmann’s feuds were real. In real life of course the two were friends. However that didn’t stop Lawler from breaking Kaufmann’s real life neck with a pile driver.

And speaking of comedy, Jim Carrey really does his best work outside of comedies – see also Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Truman Show and (yes) the Number 23.

2. Spider-Man

I am SO glad Sam Raimi didn’t go for the obvious casting choice for ‘Crusher Hogan’ – I mean, Crush was easily the worst member of the tag team Demolition. The decision to cast The Macho Man Randy Savage as Bonesaw McGraw is a canon tweak I happily endorse. I am also glad Mr Savage didn’t sully himself by appearing in the god awful remake/reboot/regurgitation/whatever it was with Andrew Garfield. Randy Savage was a great actor – I remember being thoroughly heartbroken for him when Ric Flair stole his wife Miss Elizabeth in the very public forum of the WWF.

Poor Randy died of a heart attack only two years ago at just 58. You should look up a list of professional wrestlers who have died young, it’s frightening. Seriously!

1. The Princess Bride

Cary Elwes is pretty badass in this film, taking on some some pretty intimidating opponents. He goes up against a Sicilian when death is on the line (only a slightly less-known classic blunder than ‘never get involved in a land war in Asia’), and also takes on Inigo Montoya who is like, super pissed about the whole father killing thing. But his tests of smarts and skill are nothing compared to his test of strength, when he faces the Turkish giant Fezzik. Pretty easy casting job for director Rob Reiner, who just looked up the first name in the phonebook with the surname ‘Giant’. All the same, Andre The Giant probably could have held his own in the test of smarts – Samuel Beckett used to drive him to school when he was a child, don’tcha know?


5 Responses to “The Rock stars in Pain & Gain: Top Five performances by wrestlers”

  1. I actually really like DDP in Devils Rejects!

  2. Cool list, and your number one and two are absolutely spot on.

  3. Paragraph Film Reviews Says:

    They Live was classic Piper! Also think The Rock was made for movies – too much charisma for one person.

  4. Andre The Giant was one of the first movies I saw with a wrestler, and he played his part perfectly. However, I was dying to see Pain and Gain since it came out. And I got to see, The Rock had me cracking up during the whole movie.

  5. Nice list. Couple here I had forgot about. Glad to see Andre get top honors.

    No Piper, though? And what about Ready to Rumble? I thought DDP was good in that. And The Rock was good in Be Cool.

    Some of those WWE films they’ve put out also include decent acting jobs by wrestlers.

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