Hi, my name is Nathan and I am a wrestling fan.
It’s not something I usually admit to people, but I’ve been crazy about the world of sports entertainment nearly my entire life. In middle school when most boys had posters of Carmen Electra and Jennifer Love-Hewitt on their walls, I had a wall mural of cutout pictures of my favorite wrestlers, nearly 100 of them creating a beautiful collage of muscles, face paint, and manly aggression.
Wrestling shaped my childhood. The first loves of my life came from wrestling. I dreamed of someday becoming a professional wrestler and I trained by practicing moves on trampolines with my middle school friends. I was certain that one day I would put down the Fruit by the Foot, pick up a protein shake, and have the women all over the world chant my wrestling name, “Nate The Great!” as I won the Heavyweight Championship of the World.
Wrestling taught me so many life lessons. It taught me what was good and what was evil. I learned how to raise only one eyebrow at a time and how exactly to open a can of whoop ass. As Fighting With My Family, the true story of current WWE wrestler Paige releases this week, so many memories of my love of wrestling have resurfaced and how much I used to love seeing wrestlers pop up in movies. Lucky for you I have ranked the 10 best films of all time to feature wrestlers. I’ve spent the past week agonizing, researching and second-guessing every aspect of this list. Is it perfect like Curt Henning? Maybe not. But I dare say it’s just like The Miz, It’s AWESOME! Oh, it’s true! It’s damn true! WOOOOOOOO!
10. The Waterboy (1998)
Wrestler(s) – The Big Show/The Giant
Come on Kathy Bates! Just let Bobby play the foosball!
Lucky for Adam Sandler I was still young and dumb enough to find him and this movie funny. I absolutely loved this incredible tale of a boy with anger management issues who finds strength from the simple H2O to become an incredible monster of a football player. Now, sadly I have grown up and Sandler’s movies have not.
Wrestling played a fairly important role in this film, as The Big Show played a fictional wrestler named Captain Insano, Bobby Boucher’s favorite wrestler.
9. Ready to Rumble (2000)
Wrestler(s )- Goldberg, Diamond Dallas Page, Rey Mysterio Jr, Booker T and many many more
You remember that feeling of excitement and anticipation of Christmas Eve? That is how I felt the day before Ready to Rumble came out in theaters. This was a dream come true. A movie about wrestling. A movie with my favorite actor from Scream (David Arquette — I had very questionable taste as a child) and a movie starring tons of my favorite wrestlers. I was FREAKING out!
This movie has not aged well. It is terrible. But it meant the world to me and was revolutionary in the fact it was a movie meant solely for wrestling fans, even if no Wrestling fan in the world found it to be funny.
8. MacGruber (2010)
Wrestler(s) – Kane, Mark Henry, The Great Khali, Chris Jericho and more
This movie is criminally underrated in the pantheon of the greatest Saturday Night Live movies. It is exactly what it wants and tries to be. It is stupid, meaningless but somehow a hilarious, great action movie. Will Forte and Kristen Wiig are two of the funniest people on the planet and are absolute gold in this film. It took me until last year to finally see this movie and this was a criminal injustice to the last nine years of my life.
Wrestling doesn’t play a role in this film, the cast of six wrestlers play MacGruber’s action team, that don’t last very long in the movie.
7. Spider-Man (2002)
Wrestler(s) – “Macho Man” Randy Savage
Who would have known that this film would grow into its many adaptations, restarts, and new additions? But this film was the perfect way to kickstart the franchise. No matter what anyone says, Tobey Maguire was the perfect Spider-Man. He was puny, awkward, goofy and believable as Peter Parker. The origin story was perfectly told, and it gave us one of the most iconic kissing scenes in film history. I often dreamed of doing this, but the fear of blood rushing to my head, finding a rope strong enough to hold me upside down, and the even tougher task of finding a girl who would kiss me, made this way too difficult to stage in my teenage years, so I just let Tobey handle it.
Wrestling is the focal point of perhaps the most important scene of the film when Spider-Man gets his name and is thrust into a wrestling match with Bone Saw, played by one of the greatest wrestlers of all-time “Macho Man” Randy Savage. This is the scene that leads to the death of Uncle Ben and everything is thrust into motion. Just think, without wrestling we might not have the 5,768 Spider-Man movies we have today.
6. Trainwreck (2015)
Wrestler(s) – John Cena
Remember when Amy Schumer was funny? I sure do. This was the peak of Schumer’s funny times and with the help of Judd Apatow and an incredible Bill Hader we got Trainwreck. This was a great romantic comedy. It blended the best elements of her humor, with great heart, an incredible cameo by Lebron James, and did I forget to mention how amazing Bill Hader is in this movie?
Wrestling doesn’t play a role in this film, but John Cena sure does. Cena is magic in this movie, as Schumer’s incredibly sensitive, muscle-toned boyfriend. Cena might not be The Rock but he has had some incredibly memorable roles in good films and he will be a movie star long after he has wrestled his final match.
5. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
Wrestler(s) – Dave Bautista
You forgot Drax was a wrestler, didn’t you? Well, he is and he was a good one! This movie was the greatest surprise of 2014. The concept of this film is cliche, a bit ridiculous, and should have never worked. A group of rag-tag intergalactic misfits are forced to team together to save the universe. I’ve seen this movie before, it’s called Star Wars. But then I saw Guardians, and I laughed, and I laughed, and I laughed. This movie is the best cast film of the entire Marvel Universe. Every actor fits their character perfectly and that includes the hilarious Bautista as Drax.
Drax was my favorite part of this film, and that is a massive compliment because this was the peak of my massive man crush on Chris Pratt. Bautista’s timing, his use of emotion, and relationship with everyone in the film is pitch perfect. This movie would not have been the same without him.
4. Warrior (2011)
Wrestler(s) – Kurt Angle
This is one of my go-to “Have you seen this movie?” movies. The 2011 film Warrior was one of the early vehicles for Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton. Both have gone on to major roles because they are incredible actors, and guess what, they are incredible in this film.
Warrior was a big deal because it was one of the very first films ever centered around the world of Mixed Martial Arts. This is a tremendous sports film with massive stakes, incredible sports sequences, and characters you truly love and want to root for. Warrior truly hasn’t received the attention it deserves and if you haven’t seen it, I suggest you change that as soon as you can.
Wrestling doesn’t play a role in this film, but Kurt Angle, the hall of fame WWE wrestler and former Olympic gold medalist stars as Koba, a Russian MMA fighter. This intense scene is great and one of the most adrenaline-pumping moments of the film
3. The Wrestler (2008)
Wrestler(s) – Earnest “The Cat” Miller
This movie is a haunting look into the taxing, destructive world of professional wrestling. The Wrestler is hard to watch, but impossible to turn away from. Mickey Rourke was incredible in this film and should have won an Oscar. Darren Aronofsky’s direction was near perfect and brought this dark world to life resulting in a film that continues to stick with me today.
Not surprising, The Wrestler is centered around wrestling for the entire film. Earnest “The Cat” Miller wasn’t a huge name wrestler in WCW and WWE, but he wrestled professionally for several years. Miller plays Ayatollah, who The Ram squares off against in the film’s final incredibly memorable scene.
2. Every movie ever with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
The Rock is my hero. He was when I was 10 years old. He still is today, 20 years later. As a child I worshiped him. He was my absolute favorite wrestler. I loved every single thing about him. His hilarious comebacks, incredible wit, and domination in the ring. I spent hours looking in the mirror practicing raising only one eyebrow at a time and flexing my nonexistent muscles. I dreamed of someday getting a tattoo of a bull with two horns on my bicep and eventually a very intricate chest piece. The Rock was my dude.
On April 19, 2002, I was sitting in the middle of the theater to my hometown’s very first screening of The Scorpion King. I was jacked for it! This was the very first movie with The Rock as a leading man and I was going to be there for my hero. And pretty much every year since I have made my way out to the theaters to see the new movie(s) starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Why? Because just like he was as a wrestler, he is a massive star. I wouldn’t necessarily define every movie he has made as being… how would you say it best…. good. But he makes every film he is in watchable.
The Rock is the most likable, charming, funny person in every movie he is in. He has made some incredibly unwatchable movies entertaining. For instance this summer I went to the theaters to see both Rampage and Skyscraper, why did I do this? One reason. The Rock. Were these movies classics? Of course not. But I spent the entire time in the theater smiling and rooting my dude on. In a time when the world isn’t what I would call a happy place, and people tend to find a reason to get upset or argue about anything, The Rock is just over here making movies about self-imploding skyscrapers and radioactive Gorillas. Thank you Dwayne! That is just what I need.
Sooooo… when I was asked to pick my favorite Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson movie for this list I had a minor panic attack. How could I pick just one? Should all 10 be Rock movies? Will the hardcore Rock fans send me hate mail for picking Moana? Will I lose all credibility if it is The Rundown? I lost sleep, some hair and maybe a year off my life, but in the end I came up with the best solution. I picked all of them. And if you have a problem with it, well, to quote my favorite wrestler ever “IT DOESN’T MATTER if you don’t like it!”
1. The Princess Bride
Wrestler(s) – Andre The Giant
I have to make a confession. As of a week ago, I had never seen this movie. WHAT!? HOW!? Were you raised in a bunker, NATHAN!? I was not, just a nice rural city in the middle of America, actually. But somehow this movie slipped through the cracks and as the years past I tried to avoid it. Movies that everyone loves as children don’t always stand the test of time. The Goonies was another movie I never watched as a child but when I saw it for the first time at the age of 27, I was a little underwhelmed and I just didn’t really get it. But I understood if I first watched The Goonies at the age of 7 I would have loved it. It’s kind of like Space Jam. Space Jam is one of the most meaningful movies of my life. I love it. But I am fully aware it is garbage. Yet, I saw it when I was a kid and it holds the most special place in my heart and if you tell me I shouldn’t like it I will threaten physical violence.
So I worried that Princess Bride might be Goonies 2.0. I didn’t want to hate it, so I didn’t watch it. But for the credibility of this list, I had to sit down and finally give it a chance. And oh my, this movie is just pure cinematic gold. It is hilarious from the opening frame. The storyline and the world that is created inside the Grandfather’s story is beautiful. The incredible casting of Cary Elwes, Robin Wright, Mandy Patinkin, and everyone else makes this film a treasure. Everyone in this film is on the exact same page, in terms of dedication to the script, the slightly over exaggerated acting, but commitment to telling a moving love/revenge story. It is masterful directing by Rob Reiner and there isn’t a single scene in this film that isn’t enjoyable.
But probably my favorite part of the entire film was Fezzik, played by the larger than life Andre the Giant. His massive presence and bigger heart make him dominate every scene he is in. You instantly fall in love with him and find yourself waiting for him to come back on screen. Andre was a myth to me growing up and watching wrestling. I had heard stories on television and from my Dad and Grandpa, then when his documentary came out I understood his importance. But it was seeing this film that made me understand his brilliance.
As Fighting With My Family is released in the US, I will be in the middle of the theater ready to be swept off my feet. Professional wrestling has always served as an escape and has been one of the greatest through lines of my entire life. Perhaps this film will take me back to the joy of seeing Ready to Rumble or the true story element of it will move me like The Wrestler. Who knows? I just hope it is good enough to knock The Waterboy off this list.