While some wrestlers like the Rock, John Cena, and Batista have all achieved various forms of stardom in the movies, wrestlers in the movies date back to the very beginning of movies. The French Angel Maurice Tillet, one of the original giants, had parts in several French films in the thirties. Masked legend Mil Mascaras starred in all kinds of movies where he took on Vampires, as did other legendary Luchadors like El Santo and the Blue Demon. Vince McMahon might have founded WWE Studios in an attempt to get his roster some acting work, but, in reality, wrestlers and acting have always been a thing.
As more and more fans have gotten smart business, consuming all of the backstage stuff to try and get a better understanding of how it all works, more and more filmmakers have also cast wrestlers in their movies. There has also been a whole heap of movies made about the industry as well, as documentaries lovingly made about all sorts of wrestlers.
That's not limited to just professional wrestling, either. Comedies like Win-Win and dramas like Foxcatcher lovingly look at the amateur side of things. As for the greatest sport in the world, professional wrestling, here are the top 10 movies based on the wrestling industry.
10 The Wrestler
Mickey Rourke gives an absolute tour de force performance as a former megastar now wrestling on the lower-level Indies for scraps. Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler shows the glory of what’s it's like to be under the twinkling lights and have and struggle to stay relevant in an industry which wants nothing to do with you.
Rourke plays Randy “The Ram” Robinson, a huge star in the eighties, now trying to make ends meet as a deli clerk while waiting and wondering when his next big payday will come.
9 Beyond The Mat
At one point, Beyond The Mat was the premier wrestling documentary, and it’s still a sight to see. The movie focused on the darker side of ring featuring Terry Funk in the midst of one of his 800 retirements, Jake Roberts in the midst of one his 1250 benders, and Mick Foley in the midst of his “I Quit” match with the Rock and 763 unprotected chair shots to the head.
Watching Foley reminds you of why he’s endearing and watching Jake is haunting, which makes the next movie on this list all the more epic.
8 The Resurrection Of Jake The Snake
No fan of legendary and enigmatic Jake The Snake Roberts wanted to see him on the road to ruin. Yet, his biggest fan had the power to help him. Diamond Dallas Page finds Jake and teaches him the ways of DDP Yoga in The Resurrection Of Jake The Snake. Even during the movie, Jake does all he can to destroy himself, but DDP refuses to quit on his former mentor, proving that sometimes love and affection and showing that you care and you won’t quit is all anyone really needs.
7 Fighting With My Family
Based on the BBC documentary, the Rock produced the big-screen adaptation of Fighting With My Family. Starring up and comer Florence Pugh as Paige, the movie chronicles her family life as her real name, Saraya, all the way until finally making it to the Performance Center up until her debut on the main roster, winning the Divas title on her debut night. For all the struggles for that one big moment made for an amazing life story of the youngest Divas Champion ever.
6 Hitman Hart: Wrestling With Shadows
Without question, 1997 was one of the best years in the business and one of the best years of Bret Hart’s career. He was firing on all cylinders as the ultimate heel in the United States one night, and Canada’s favorite hero the next. Documentarian Paul Jay decided to chronicle this time in Hitman Hart: Wrestling With Shadows.
No one could have ever expected what he’d actually capture on film as part of the film’s climax: an honest account of what happened in Montreal.
5 No Holds Barred
The very first WWE Studios film, No Holds Barred isn’t going to win any awards, but that doesn’t make it any less endearing to wrestling fans. Hulk Hogan plays megastar Rip Thomas. A WWE rival network executive wants to sign Rip away, and, when he can’t, he finds Zeus. The movie is completely bonkers and completely eighties, but watching Hulk “rip” it up on the big screen as essentially himself is a fun treat.
4 30 For 30: The Nature Boy
To a massive sea of wrestling fans, past and present, the Nature Boy Ric Flair isn’t just one of the greatest wrestlers of all time—he is the greatest wrestler of all time. ESPN took a peek behind the flamboyant robes of the Hall Of Famer in their 30 For 30 special. The result became an instant classic amongst wrestling documentaries. While WWE has done some great docs on both Flair and Horsemen, but ESPN took a no-nonsense look at not just Ric Flair the mythic figure, but at Richard Fleihr the man.
3 Body Slam
The rock and wrestling connection is what initially propelled the WWE into the pop culture stratosphere. Why not try to capitalize on that with a movie? Roddy Piper and Dirk “Faceman” Benedict, along with several other larger-than-life wrestlers from the era, take part in the film Body Slam.
Seeing as how he was there in the middle of the real thing, Piper was perfect to match the comedy and the wrestling, and it’s always cool to see members of the Samoan Dynasty on film. Not only was wrestling in the Rock’s blood, but movies were, too.
2 My Breakfast With Blassie / I’m From Hollywood
Sometimes celebrities and their antics are held in a sort of mythical regard. Andy Kaufman is held doubly in that mythic level thanks in part to his dual career as a comedian and as a wrestler. His feud with Jerry Lawler in the Memphis Territory is still heralded to this day, but it wasn’t the only thing Kaufman did in the sport.
He also hung out with Classy Freddie Blassie in the aptly titled Breakfast With Blassie. Not necessarily about the industry, but, anytime you get to hear two legends talking, it’s always fun to see. If you want to spend more time with Andy, you can make it a double feature and check out I’m From Hollywood, a documentary about his time in Memphis.
1 Andre The Giant
Speaking of mythical figures in professional wrestling, they don’t get bigger—no pun intended—than The Eighth Wonder In The World. Andre The Giant was and still is the stuff of legend. Everything about him inspired an awestruck wonder that a real-life giant would inspire in the hearts and minds of everyone.
The HBO documentary didn’t necessarily reveal any new information to die-hard fans, but, to casual fans and outside observers, Andre The Giant revealed a peek behind the curtain about the kindness of the legendary man.