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The 411 Movies Top 5: The Top 5 Movies Starring Pro Wrestlers

January 9, 2016 | Posted by Shawn S. Lealos
Batista - Guardians of the Galaxy Drax

The 411 Movies Top 5: Hello everyone and welcome to 411 Movies Top 5 List. We take a topic each week and all the writers here on 411 wrestling will have the ability to participate and give us their Top 5 on said topic. So, onto this week’s topic…

The Top 5 Movies Starring Pro Wrestlers

BRYAN KRISTOPOWITZ
5. BODY SLAM – I know lots of people don’t like this movie because it’s cheesy as hell. It isn’t “realistic” when it comes to the business of pro wrestling (in this movie it’s real and not staged). But what it lacks in reality it more than makes up for it with comedy. Dirk Benedict, of The A-Team, is a sleazy music producer who ends up managing pro wrestler “Quick” Rick Roberts (Roddy Piper) and creates “Rock ‘N Wrestling” (rock and roll and pro wrestling). The Barbarian shows up, as does “Nature Boy” Ric Flair, Bruno Sammartino, “Classy” Freddy Blassie, Sam Fatu, Sheik Adnan al-Kaissy, the Samoans, Tjioe Khan, and Captain Lou Albano plays the movie’s villain (“Hey, sign this Lou!”). If you haven’t seen this Hal Needham directed wrestling comedy, track it down and give it a shot. It’s ridiculous but it’s a ton of fun. It really is.

4. FASTER – This is The Rock’s first real stab at full on dramatic acting and, like his foray into family movies, The Rock shows that he really can do anything. His first scene, where his character gets out of prison, gets his car, gets a gun, and then walks into an office and shoots a guy dead is an amazing scene that shows the movie, and The Rock’s character, is capable of anything. He can be charismatic and, to a certain extent, righteous, but he’s also a bad guy that no one should want to emulate. And he’s stuck in a world where, despite being a bad guy, there are guys worse than him, like the corrupt cop played by Billy Bob Thornton. I don’t remember this movie doing all that well when it came out, but hopefully it will find an audience via TV and home video (that can sometimes take years to happen). I’d like to see The Rock play a character like this again, or at least appear in a movie like this again.

3. THE EXPENDABLES – “Stone Cold” Steve Austin is the pro wrestling muscle in this tremendous ensemble action flick, and he plays Dan Paine, the lead henchman of scumbag James Munroe played by Eric Roberts. Paine is a sadistic prick who ends up destroying director/star Sylvester Stallone’s Barney Ross (wasn’t Stallone injured in real life due to the brawl he has with Austin?) and is just, well, a prick. Austin is mean and nasty here and doesn’t show off his considerable smart ass screen charm and charisma, which is something he doesn’t really try to do in his low budget action movie work. Austin’s fight with MMA star Randy Couture is pretty awesome, and Austin’s standoff with a drugged out Dolph Lundgren is pretty sweet, too. Austin isn’t doing as many movies as he used to now, which is sad because he’s usually good every time.

2. ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK – This John Carpenter sci-fi action classic has pro wrestler Ox Baker as Slag, the gladiator of sorts that Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell) is forced to fight after being captured by Isaac Hayes’ Duke of New York (A number one). Plissken fights Slag in a boxing ring with various weapons, and for the first part of the fight Plissken gets his ass kicked. But then Plissken, because he never quits and is always resourceful, manages to get the upper hand on Slag and kills him by burying a bat with nails in it into the back of his head. It’s a small scene, sure, but you’ll remember it for the sound design, the size difference between Plissken and Slag, and Slag’s face the second he’s killed. Why haven’t any of the action figure companies made a two-pack yet of Plissken and Slag? You’d think it would have happened by now.

1. THEY LIVE – John Carpenter’s alien invasion movie is one of the director’s best efforts, and is Roddy Piper’s best movie. Piper plays John Nada, a drifter just minding his own business when he finds out the truth about the world. Basically, the world is run by ultra-pro-business alien Republicans hell bent on “expansion.” The aliens keep humanity “asleep” via a signal sent out via a TV station in California. The only way to “see the truth” is with special sunglasses created by a resistance movement that, when it isn’t planning on what it should do next to stop the aliens, helps the homeless and gets its ass kicked by the cops. Piper is so damn good in this movie it’s amazing that no one ever tried to get the same kind of performance out of him. And Keith David, as Nada’s buddy Frank, is superb, too. Subversive, timeless, and chock full of great action bits (the alley fight between Piper and David is still one of the best on screen fight in movie history) and great lines (“I have come here to chew bubble gum and kick ass. And I’m all out of bubblegum,” “Life’s a bitch and she’s back in heat.”). Awesome through and through.

Wednesday Lee Friday
5. Micki & Maude (1984) – Obviously, 80’s romantic comedies aren’t for everyone. But there’s something very sweet and cute about Dudley Moore as an accidental bigamist. One of his wives is the fictional daughter of wrestler “Hard Boiled Haggerty.” As such, this movie contains an awesome scene full of wrestlers that include Big John Studd, Chief Jay Strongbow, Madman O’Rourke, Andre the Giant, and even 80’s announcer Mean Gene LeBell. Even if you aren’t a big romantic comedy fan (I know I’m not), this movie is a fun watch.

4. Halloween (2007) – We could debate all day long about the merits of the original Halloween versus Rob Zombie’s remake. However you feel about it, it cannot be denied that pro-wrestler Tyler Mane completely killed as an updated Michael Myers. Far more brutal than say, Joanie Cunningham’s real-life brother in a painted Shatner mask—Mane is brutal AF in his portrayal of Haddonfield’s murderous madman. Despite a kickass performance by Mane, this remake lacks the innovation and passion of the original film.

3. The Running Man (1987) – My most favoritest 90’s action movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger—this one gives us a dystopian future of an oligarchy replete with government/media collusion and $6 cans of soda. Better still, it features Governor-The-Body-Ventura as a network stalker. This is a fun action movie loosely based on a Stephen King novella (during the Richard Bachman days). Directed by TV’s “David Starsky” Paul Michael Glaser, this is a damn entertaining film with an absurdly hilarious cast that includes Yaphet Kotto, Richard Dawson, Dweezil Zappa, and Mick Fleetwood.

2. The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005) – If you’re a fan of Steve Carell or Judd Apatow, you don’t need me to tell you that this movie is hilarious. But you might not know that one of main-character Andy’s speed dating prospects was professional wrestler Kimberly Page (AKA “Diamond Doll”). Even if you don’t remember that she was in the movie, you all probably recall her uncomfortably oblivious moment when one of her boobs comes flying out of her shirt. Oops.

1. The Godfather (1972) – People tend to cast wrestlers in non-wrestling movies when they need someone physically imposing. Such was the case when wrestler Lenny Montana was cast as Corleone hammer “Luca Brasi” in the greatest mob movie of all time. Brasi was a simple but hard-hitting mafia man whose backstory was far bigger in the book than it was onscreen. We never see him do much in the way of enforcing in the film, but one look at him and we can see why a smart man like Vito Corleone would want Brasi on his side…until he sleeps with the fishes, at least.

CALIBER WINFIELD
5. GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY – 2 surprises came with the release of Guardians, first of all no one expected to do as well as it did, and 2nd, no one expected Batista to be as damn good an actor as he is. In a movie that has a pretty wide array of interesting as well as funny characters, Batista is not only capable of holding his own, but he far and away steals the show. As a warrior bent on revenge, he was able to play the heavy that we all expected, but certain personality traits, like not being able to understand things like metaphors made room for some of the films funniest moments. This was really a star making role for him in one of Marvel’s best films.

4. WARRIOR – Oddly enough, this film slipped under a lot of people’s radars, and it’s a damn shame. Warrior is the story of two estranged brothers who both happen to dabble in MMA, and enter a once in a lifetime tournament in order to snag the large prize money. One of the fighter’s in this film is a Russian known as Koba, an undefeated monster that is everyone’s favorite to win. He happens to be played by none other than Kurt Angle, who was doing a slew of movies around this time that also included Dylan Dog. He actually doesn’t say a single word the entire film, but Angle’s presence and facial expressions serve just fine and have you believing Koba is as big a deal as he’s made out to be. I also need to mention that two of the other stars in this film are Nick Nolte and my boy Tom Hardy, and they both turn in some fan-fucking-tastic performances that help to make this film a must see.

3. ROCKY III – Honestly, I’m insulted that so far I’m the only one who has this film on their list. First off, Rocky III is not only a perfect movie that needs to be viewed no less than 100 times per person, but it launched the career of Hulk Hogan. The Hulkster of course plays the Mountain of Molten Lust, The Ultimate Male, Thunderlips. And teaches Rocky the name of the game in one of cinema’s most memorable opening scenes, as he goes completely batshit on Rocky, who when standing face to face look like they’re father & son. A great role, a great movie.

2. THE EXPENDABLES: DIRECTOR’S CUT – Before we get started, I just want to state that anyone who has only seen the theatrical version of The Expendables needs to snag the Director’s Cut blu-ray. It’s about 35-40% different, and turns the film from great, into what I consider to be the greatest action movie of all time. Now, that said, one of the reasons it’s so damn good is because of Stone Cold Steve Austin. He plays the lead henchman Dan Paine, and he’s fucking awesome. Austin reverts back to the original version of the Stone Cold character, as he’s absolutely a no-nonsense, no-bullshit, do-whatever-it-takes heavy hitter. He has a great screen presence, playing a villain like it’s second nature, and also helps to make two of the film’s best fight scenes. There’s rumor he’ll be back for part 4, and I sincerely hope so.

1. PAIN & GAIN – OK, while I think The Expendables DC is a better film, this list is about films with pro-wrestlers, and while Austin is a co-star in E:DC, The Rock is thee star in Pain & Gain. One of my all time favorite movies, Pain & Gain is about a group of bodybuilders who kidnap a wealthy business man and force him to sign over everything he has to them before attempting to kill him. The Rock plays Paul, a massive giant who’s also a born again Christian, and only wants to do right. However, when things get a little tough after getting into jail, he’s talked into doing things by his friend Daniel that he might not normally do. Plus, a lot of money, coke, and a hot stripper girlfriend ease his guilt. The Rock is masterful in this role, turning in one of the funniest performances I’ve ever seen, and it’s all played straight. Seeing him wear a “Friend of Jesus” t-shirt while reading Christian Camping magazine shortly before explaining to a hostage that being able to “knock someone the FUCK out” is a gift from Jesus is one of the many, many examples of how Rock completely owns this role. Also, if you pay attention during the prison fight scene, you’ll notice another wrestler cameo, as The Rock once again does battle with Kurt Angle.

Shawn S. Lealos
5. Ed Wood – In Plan 9 from Outer Space, Tor Johnson starred as one of the main antagonists, a monstrous man. In the biopic of that movie’s director, Ed Wood, WWE superstar George “The Animal” Steele took on the role as Tor. The movie was fantastic, with Burton shooting it in beautiful black and white and Johnny Depp turning in a great performance as Ed Wood. Burton is a polarizing filmmaker, but this movie remains his true masterpiece, one that he doesn’t rely on his gothic crutches to pull off and one that it was clear he made out of a true love for his subject.

4. They Live – At one time in my life, this movie would have been number one and nothing else could have touched it. I think I have quoted the “I came here to chew bubblegum and kick ass” line more than I have almost any other movie line. This was a time when Rowdy Roddy Piper was cool and John Carpenter was the king. For the ones of you who have never seen it, They Live is about an alien invasion that happened under our noses. No one knows that the aliens have taken human forms and took over powerful roles in the world, both politically and corporate-wise. The only way to see the aliens is with special sunglasses, which Roddy Piper gets a hold of. The entire movie is nonsense, but it is the most entertaining nonsense you will probably ever see.

3. Guardians of the Galaxy – Batista was marvelous in this movie. Honestly, he played Drax the Destroyer with such a fantastic obliviousness to everything around him that he stole almost every scene he was in. James Gunn has always had an amazing eye for talent, and he proved it again here with all his direction of the actors. This might be the best Marvel Universe movie of them all, and Batista was such a big role in it. I never thought he would become such a solid actor, but between this and Riddick, I can’t wait to see what he does in the future.

2. The Princess Bride – I think I have included The Princess Bride in almost more top 5 lists than any other movie. There is a reason: it is a GREAT movie. Of course, the wrestler involved here is Andre the Giant in one of his rare film roles. He plays a large monster of a man and a henchman to the villain in the movie. However, this is Andre, so his bad guy wasn’t really that bad in the end. He has some really funny lines and never seems out of place in this role, despite his dialect problems. If The Princess Bride is on, I will watch it every time.

1. The Wrestler – There are a ton of real wrestlers in this movie about professional wrestling, so I’ll just throw out a few names: Necro Butcher, Ernest “The Cat” Miller, Ron ‘The Truth” Killings, Johnny Valiant, Austin Aries, The Blue Meanie, Cesaro, Bobby Dempsey, and more. There have been a lot of movies about wrestling, but none have respected the sport as much as this one. The movie shows the horrors, pain and suffering that comes in a sport that too many people call “fake,” when they mean “pre-determined.” Fake sports don’t cause this many injuries to the competitors, and Darren Aronofsky shows it the respect it deserves here. Over all that, this is a story about what happens to someone when the only thing they know is taken away from them, contrasting Mickey Rourke’s aging wrestler with Marisa Tomei’s aging stripper. This is a story about life passing you by. It is not only the best movie with real professional wrestlers in the cast, but one of the best movies you can watch regardless of genre.

YOUR TURN KNOW IT ALLS

List your Top Five for this week’s topic in the comment section using the following format:

5. CHOICE: Explanation
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