WWE stars turned actors: The wrestlers who switched the ring for Hollywood fame

From John Cena to Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, there are several wrestlers to appear on screen

Wrestling stars have often moved into acting, like John Cena and Hulk Hogan (Getty Images)
Wrestling stars have often moved into acting, like John Cena and Hulk Hogan (Getty Images)

The wrestling ring may not seem like the place for a person to develop a blossoming acting career, but several WWE stars have gone on to become actors in their own right.

Some have had more successful transitions than others, with feuds arising between some wrestling stars that have led to harsh words being said. One such example is John Cena, who in 2011 publicly decried Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson for deciding to move into acting.

Read more: John Cena recalls 'a lot of bad vibes' between himself and Dwayne Johnson

Cena has since made the same jump to Hollywood, and recently apologised to Johnson for his comments during a press conference for WWE’s 2023 Fastlane event.

The Peacemaker star explained: "I went about it the wrong way. I violated his trust and I made allegations about his perspective that I knew nothing about."

Johnson and Cena are not the first and by no means the last wrestlers to make a career change, so Yahoo UK is looking back at all the WWE stars to take on the new challenge.

Dwayne Johnson

Dwayne Johnson, aka The Rock, enters the ring to talk smack about his upcoming opponent John Cena during the WWE Raw event at Rose Garden arena in Portland, Ore., Monday February 27th, 2012. (Photo by Chris Ryan/Corbis via Getty Images)
Dwayne Johnson, aka The Rock, pictured in 2012 at the WWE Raw event, he has had a very successful wresting career. (Getty Images)

How many films has he made? 44 movies

Box office: Johnson's films have earned over $5bn worldwide.

Highest grossing film: Furious 7 with over $1.5bn.

The most iconic wrestler-turned-actor is without a doubt Johnson, he made his wrestling debut in 1996 and went on to have a successful career in the business before moving into acting.

He first began acting in 2001's The Mummy Returns and made his leading man debut in The Scorpion King, he has since gone on to (mostly) dominate the box office.

Over the past two decades, Johnson has appeared in a number of successful film franchises like the Fast and Furious films and the Jumanji reboot film series.

HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 12: Dwayne Johnson attends the 95th Annual Academy Awards on March 12, 2023 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images )
Dwayne Johnson is one of the highest grossing box-office stars of all time, but he began in wrestling (Getty Images )

Johnson has also starred in Disney's blockbuster hit Moana, the animated film is set to be given the live-action reboot treatment and he will reprise the role. His early years even inspired a series titled Young Rock, which ran for three seasons.

The actor has had some highs and lows over the years, his debut into the DCEU as Black Adam did not go as well as had been hoped, for example, and was described as a "box office bomb" though it did eventually manage to make a profit.

John Cena

WWE Wrestling: WrestleMania 31: John Cena victorious in ring with belt during event at Levi's Stadium.
Santa Clara, CA 3/29/2015
CREDIT: Jed Jacobsohn (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn /Sports Illustrated via Getty Images)
(Set Number: X159445 TK1 )
John Cena at WWE Wrestling: WrestleMania 31 in 2015 (Getty Images)

How many films has he made? 29 films.

Box office: Cena's films have earned over $4bn worldwide.

Highest grossing film: Bumblebee with $467m.

John Cena may have made comments about Johnson's pivot into acting, but the wrestler made the same decision in 2006 and he has gone on to become another influential figure in the entertainment industry.

The wrestler began his career in 1999 but chose to make the move into acting in 2006 when he starred in the WWE Studios film The Marine. It appears from there Cena caught the acting bug as he has been starring in film and television ever since.

PEACEMAKER 2022 serie TV creee par James Gunn saison 1 episode 3 John Cena. Prod DB © DC Entertainment - The Safran Company - Troll Court Entertainmen
John Cena as Peacemaker in Peacemaker, the HBO spin-off to The Suicide Squad (HBO).

Cena also appeared in the Fast and Furious franchise, in which he plays Dom Torretto's brother Jakob, and he has gone on to star in Bumblebee and The Suicide Squad. He has also shown his comedic side in hits like Blockers and Vacation Friends.

The actor's starring role as Peacemaker in James Gunn's The Suicide Squad led to a spin-off being released based on the character for HBO, which has been renewed for a second season.

Dave Bautista

TOKYO - MARCH 05:  WWE wrestler Dave Batista appears at fan event at HMV Shibuya on March 5, 2009 in Tokyo, Japan.  (Photo by Jun Sato/WireImage)
Dave Batista worked as a WWE wrestler before becoming an actor (WireImage)

How many films has he made? 22 films.

Box office: Bautista's films have earned over $9bn at the box office.

Highest grossing film: Avengers: Endgame with $2.7bn.

Dave Bautista began his wrestling career in 1999 and joined the WWE in 2002, he went on to appear in the ring until 2019 before deciding to become an actor. He also trained as a Mixed Martial Arts fighter.

He made his acting debut in 2006's Smallville, where he starred as an alien named Aldar and he was credited with his WWE moniker Batista. He later began acting under his real name from 2012 film The Man with the Iron Fists.

Dave Bautista as Drax in The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special. (Marvel Studios)
Dave Bautista as Drax in The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special. (Marvel Studios)

Bautista found stardom when he appeared in Gunn's Marvel film The Guardians of the Galaxy as Drax the Destroyer, a fan favourite of the film franchise and a role that proved Bautista could pull off both comedy and drama onscreen.

Since then Bautista has appeared in films like Army of the Dead, the Guardians of the Galaxy sequels, and also Blade Runner: 2049.

Hulk Hogan

Wrestling legend Hulk Hogan greets the crowd during the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) Crown Jewel pay-per-view at the King Saud University Stadium in Riyadh on November 2, 2018. (Photo by Fayez Nureldine / AFP) (Photo by FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP via Getty Images)
Wrestling legend Hulk Hogan at the World Wrestling Entertainment Crown Jewel event in 2018. (AFP via Getty Images)

How many films has he made? 12 films.

Box office: Hogan's films have earned $431m worldwide.

Highest grossing film: Gnomeo and Juliet with $193m.

Hulk Hogan is one of the most iconic wrestlers in the WWE, and he even inspired Cena to make a career in the sport and became a celebrity in his own right thanks to the popularity of Hulkamania.

Though he's still best known as a wrestler, Hulk Hogan has starred in a number of films over the years including a memorable appearance in Rocky III where he played Thunderlips.

Steve Austin

Stone Cold Steve Austin during WrestleMania 23 at Detroit's Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan on April 1, 2007.  (Photo by Leon Halip/WireImage)
Steve Austin at WrestleMania 23 in 2007. (WireImage)

How many films has he made? 8 films.

Box office: Austin's films have earned $714m.

Highest grossing film: The Expendables with $268m worldwide.

Steve Austin, better known as Stone Cold Steve Austin, is like Hulk Hogan in that he is predominantly known for his role as a wrestler but he has appeared in a number of films including The Expendables, The Longest Yard and Grown Ups 2.

Kevin Nash

THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- Episode 1605 -- Pictured: (l-r) Actor and professional wrestler Kevin
Kevin Nash with Jay Leno in 1999 (Getty Images)

How many films has he made? 8 films.

Box office: Nash's films have earned $465m worldwide.

Highest grossing film: The Longest Yard with $191m worldwide.

Kevin Nash began his career in wrestling career in 1990 and he went on to join the WWE in 1993 where he was given the nickname "Big Sexy". The athlete moved into acting in 1991 film Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze.

Nash has gone on to appear in films like The Longest Yard, Magic Mike and its sequels Magic Mike XXL and Magic Mike: The Last Dance, as well as the first John Wick film.

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