As most children do, I went through a powerful professional wrestling phase when I was young. There was a summer or two, back in the late 1980s, when I would enthusiastically follow every match presented by the WWF (before it became WWE). I watched Wrestlemania 2 and III, and I once even managed to land nosebleed tickets to a match between Andre the Giant and Jake “The Snake” Roberts, which was no small feat for a 10-year-old boy. I realize by citing the actual matches that I'm severely dating myself, but I prefer to think of myself as a pro-wrestling classicist.
Fighters and wrestlers, perhaps even before movie stars, tend to be the real-life heroes of young boys everywhere. Given the performance-heavy nature of pro-wrestling, it's only a natural progression for certain fighters to try their hand at actually becoming movie stars. The phenomenon of wrestlers becoming actors is not new. Indeed from They Live to No Holds Barred to the recent The Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption (on home video on January 10th), wrestlers and fighters have been infiltrating Hollywood entertainment for years. Let's take a closer look at a few of them, shall we?
Also, check out our exclusive behind-the-scenes bonus clip from Scorpion King 3 featuring wrestlers Dave Bautista and MMA star Kimbo Slice and Victor Webster below.
DWAYNE “THE ROCK”JOHNSON
The Rock made his acting debut in The Mummy Returns back in 2001 (well, technically, his first feature film was a little-seen flick called Longshot the year previous, which was only theatrically released in Germany). Even though his role in The Mummy Returns was mute (and indeed the bulk of his performance was a CGI scorpion monster), he managed to catch the eye of many fans, and he went on to the spinoff film The Scorpion King the following year. The Rock proved to be a gregarious and rather charming performer with an easy smile and an infectious smirk. It's little wonder, then, that The Rock, now going by Dwayne Johnson, should quickly turn into a family-friendly hero in films like The Tooth Fairy. I was fond of him in 2011's Fast Five, where he played a copiously sweaty supercop who towered over his subordinates, and seemed capable of bodily barreling through walls.
Randy Couture was once an Ultimate Fighting Champion and master of mixed martial arts, that
American chop suey of fighting techniques which has risen to commercial prominence in the last decade. He is also a trained expert in Greco-Roman wrestling, and was even an alternate in America's Olympic wrestling team back in the 1980s. He even served a stint in the army. This is a man who is so strong and so tough and so physically fit, it's almost a wonder why he would be drawn to the arts. His career started as fighters and stuntmen (his first credit is “Fighter #8” in the bizarro Jet Li/DMX vehicle Cradle 2 the Grave), but he eventually worked his way into line-reading status with shows like The Unit, and films like Redbelt and The Expendables. He even managed to land the role of Sargon in The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior. Sargon of Akkad, by the way, was a Sumerian king who ruled somewhere in the 22nd century BC. His tales are told in one of the oldest stories known to man. If anyone can embody a distant hero like Sargon, it would be a tough guy like this.
A.k.a. The Animal, a.k.a. Khan, a.k.a. Leviathan, Dave Batista still holds the record for being the WWE world champion longer than any wrestler in the organization's history. He's wrestled with Ric Flair, John Cena, and even the famed luchador Rey Mysterioso. The man is built like a stack of ore-filled barrels, and commands the ring with his mere bodily presence. Batista is currently retired from pro-wrestling, but is seeking to foster a career in mixed martial arts. I have little doubt that he can pull it off. Dave Batista seems to have a streak of old-time wrestling purity in him as well; he was quoted criticizing the new generation of WWE kids as being less passionate than the previous generation. I admire his belief in the system. Batista, acting under his original name of Dave Bautista, tried his hand at acting in an episode of Chuck, and has gone on to star in an action film called House of the Rising Sun. He will play a character named Argomael in The Scorpion King 3. Argomael, as far as I know, was not an ancient Sumerian king. He will, however, be a big beefy guy.
KEVIN “KIMBO SLICE” FERGUSON
At first glance, you wouldn't assume that Kimbo Slice would harm you. His bushy beard and friendly demeanor might have you thinking he's just a large, friendly guy. Like a guy you want to have a conversation with in a bar. You might think he worked as a bouncer, but not as a fighter. Actually, I have learned that he was a bouncer at one point in his life, so there you are. Kimbo Slice's fight career began under dubious circumstances: he was filmed fighting in the streets for money, becoming a sensation on YouTube. He was eventually taken under the wing of a Boston cop who trained him how to channel his fists into mixed martial arts. He went on to win dozens of matches, catching people's eye with his unique look and demeanor. Anyone with that much life experience should, perhaps, appear on the big screen. He started his acting career in 2008 with a fans-only TV special called Merry Christmas, Drake & Josh, wherein he played a character named Bulge. He's also played characters named Bone, King, and Reg. In The Scorpion King 3, he is slated to play Zulu Kondo, which sounds like a 19th-century African revolutionary crossed with a Japanese samurai badass. Hey, if anyone can do that, Kimbo Slice can.
Full Disclosure: This article is sponsored by Universal Pictures.