The WWE has proven to be a great launching pad for the acting careers of many superstars over the years. While there are major names that made it from the squared circle to Hollywood and TV shows, there are also numerous roles that minor stars have taken on. It seems that the goal of many professional wrestlers is to lock in acting roles so they can continue to work once their in-ring career comes to a close. The influx of WWE superstars to Hollywood really got underway in the Rock and Wrestling Connection of the '80s and has only strengthened as the acting talents of wrestlers have improved over the years.
However, for every Guardians of the Galaxy (Batista), Trainwreck (John Cena), Haven (Edge), and Dwayne Johnson movie, there are dozens that fall short. When it comes to the small screen, those numbers grow as wrestlers have appeared in guest spots on TV shows for decades now. With everything from sitcom roles and dramatic turns to reality shows, there are a lot of special appearances that didn't live up to the build and hype that came with it.
Here are 20 TV Roles WWE Stars Want Their Fans To Forget.
20 STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN - DILBERT
There wasn't a bigger star in the WWE during the Attitude Era than Stone Cold Steve Austin. During his short eight-year WWE career, Austin became the most popular wrestler in the world and rivaled even Hulk Hogan for his drawing power. It seemed that if anyone was destined for greatness outside the WWE, it was the Rattlesnake.
While Austin got his chances in Hollywood and on TV, he never liked acting. In an appearance on Lilian Garcia's podcast, Austin said that he doesn't like memorizing lines and doesn't want to act anymore.
Over his short acting career, Austin had some success. His role on Nash Bridges as Det. Jake Cage was a lot of fun and he also wasn't terrible in his movie roles such as The Longest Yard and The Condemned.
One of his earliest roles was voicing an animated character in the cartoon Dilbert. Austin played a version of himself as Judge Stone Cold Steve Austin, and while it seemed like a fun role, Austin just never seemed comfortable voicing a character based on his wrestling role.
Austin seems much more comfortable now playing himself on unscripted reality shows Redneck Island and Steve Austin's Broken Skull Challenge.
19 JOHN CENA - HANNAH MONTANA
When John Cena first made his debut in the WWE, he personally kicked off the Ruthless Aggression era in the company. After a Halloween party where he dressed up like Vanilla Ice, he got the chance to take on a rapper gimmick and developed an R-rated rap schtick where he insulted anyone and everyone that crossed his path. It seems almost hard to believe that Cena would end up becoming the face of the WWE PG-era, someone who was more about the kids than anything, even though he told USA Today that he has a very adult sense-of-humor.
With that said, Cena has started to finally show that adult sense of humor again in movies like Trainwreck and Blockers. However, look at his past TV roles, and the 16-time WWE champion has appearances on shows like Hannah Montana.
In season 4 of Hannah Montana, Cena comes to life out of a wrestling magazine and playfights with Jackson while telling him why reading is important.
The performance in this Disney Channel TV show gives no indication of the greatness that would come when Cena finally went all-in for his Hollywood career a few years later.
18 DWAYNE JOHNSON - THAT '70S SHOW
Over the past decade, Dwayne Johnson has become one of the most successful actors in Hollywood. It is easy to say that the man that the WWE Universe knows as The Rock is the best actor to ever come out of the world of professional wrestling.
While he has topped the box office in movies like Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and Furious 7, he wasn't always as successful -- although he did always exhibit the charisma that made him the Most Electrifying Man in Sports Entertainment.
Before he made his movie debut in The Mummy Returns in 2001, he appeared on television in the sitcom That '70s Show.
Honestly, while he was not yet the Great One in Hollywood, Johnson likely has fond memories of his appearance on the season 1 episode "That Wrestling Show" (Feb. 7, 1999). On the episode, Kitty makes Red attend a wrestling event and at the show, they meet a wrestler named Rocky Johnson. For those who don't know, Rocky is Dwayne Johnson's dad and The Rock got this special opportunity to play his own father on the episode.
Also appearing was former WWE star Ken Shamrock and an early appearance by the Hardy Boyz.
17 THE BIG SHOW - SUPAH NINJAS
Over his career, Big Show has had a few great roles in both Hollywood and on TV. One of his earlier roles was a very fun appearance in the Adam Sandler film Waterboy as professional wrestler Captain Insano. He also made a fun appearance on Psych, although the less that can be said about his starring effort -- Knucklehead -- the better. However, after all of those roles, Big Show had two appearances on the Nickelodeon superhero series Supah Ninjas.
The WWE giant appeared in both the season 1 episode "Two Ton Harley" (April 23, 2011) and the season 2 episode "Enter the Dojo" (April 6, 2013). In the first appearance, Big Show plays Two Ton Harley, a convict who escapes with the intention of getting caught again so he can reunite with his old motorcycle gang in a different jail.
Big Show even said in an interview that it was the first time in his career that someone asked him to "fatten up" for a role. Needless to say, appearing in this Nickelodeon show did little to sell Big Show for any bigger and better roles, as his only role since then, to date, was a movie released on the internet called Vendetta, co-starring Dean Cain.
16 SHAWN MICHAELS - BAYWATCH
Baywatch was the most successful show on television for many years. As a result, a lot of people wanted to make special appearances on the show, since it gave them much needed publicity thanks to the large audience of the series, and the influence of television. That extended to wrestling superstars from both the WWE and WCW. Hulk Hogan, Macho Man Randy Savage, Nature Boy Ric Flair, and Big Van Vader all made appearances on Baywatch when they were wrestling for WCW.3
The WWE got involved as well and took it one step further, getting stars from Baywatch involved in their biggest wrestling event of 1995 as well.
The Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels appeared in Baywatch season 7 episode "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner".
Unlike the WCW episode, where the wrestlers played themselves, HBK played the bodyguard of a mobster who was shown up every step of the way by C.J. Parker's mom. This actually took place one year after Pamela Anderson, who played Parker on Baywatch, appeared at WrestleMania XI in a match that saw Shawn Michaels battle his former pal Diesel. Anderson was by Diesel's side while Jenny McCarthy was with HBK, although it was Diesel who left with both women.
15 HULK HOGAN - THE A-TEAM
Much like Shawn Michaels on Baywatch, the Hulk Hogan appearance on the hit TV series The A-Team was also connected with a WrestleMania event. Before this episode, Hogan had already made a huge appearance in a Hollywood movie, playing Thunderlips in Rocky III.
For fans of the Rocky franchise, Hogan played a professional wrestler who battled Rocky Balboa in a wrestler vs. boxer gimmick match. That movie ended up seeing Rocky battle the arrogant Clubber Lang, played by Mr. T.
It seems the two men hit it off and, three years later, Hulk Hogan appeared as himself on Mr. T's hit show The A-Team in the season 4 episode "Body Slam" (Nov. 12, 1985). Hogan played himself, but the series faked his backstory by claiming he served in Vietnam with Mr. T's character, B.A. Baracus. This all played off the fact that Hogan and Mr. T teamed up in the main event of the very first WrestleMania, which took place eight months before this first appearance on The A-Team.
Hogan returned later that season for "The Trouble with Harry" (March 25, 1986) when Hannibal helped get Hulk a role in a Hollywood movie on the show. Mr. T then returned to WrestleMania 2 to battle Rowdy Roddy Piper -- just two weeks after that second Hogan TV show appearance.
14 BRET "THE HITMAN" HART - MADTV
A lot of professional wrestlers have appeared on various sketch comedy shows over the years. When it comes to MADtv, there were also a lot of wrestlers who appeared on the show. Unlike SNL, which just takes stars and has them take part in different types of sketches, MADtv tried to blur this line between professional wrestling and reality, and it didn't always work. One of the more infamous appearances by a wrestler on MADtv came when Bret "The Hitman" Hart appeared on the show.
At this time, Hart was in WCW and the company worked out a co-promotion with MADtv, where Hart took part in a sketch that saw him flip out on the cast of the show.
The MadTV sketch took place in season 4 when Will Sasso portrayed Governor Jesse Ventura.
Sasso said he didn't want to be known as a wrestler anymore, but then introduced his lieutenant governor, Bret "The Hitman" Hart, who bullied the reporters that asked bad questions. However, out of nowhere, Hart attacked the cast and hit Sasso with a chair. He then said they tried to humiliate him last time he was on the show, and this was payback. The camera crew and directors ran on set and pulled Hart off, and for years people questioned if it was real or scripted.
13 KING KONG BUNDY - MARRIED ... WITH CHILDREN
King Kong Bundy was one of the legitimately tough wrestlers in the WWE of the '80s. However, while he had some high profile matches in his tenure there -- including the main event at WrestleMania 2 against Hulk Hogan and a battle against midget wrestlers at WrestleMania III -- Bundy is still not in the WWE Hall of Fame.
This is despite the fact that his opponent at WrestleMania III -- Hillbilly Jim -- just got into the Hall of Fame this year despite having a less successful career than Bundy. If anyone wants to know why Bundy has never gotten in, the wrestler himself has a good reason.
King Kong Bundy said that he wanted to use his fame to develop a career outside of the WWE and signed a deal with Head Start, a computer company that used his likeness. Vince McMahon never forgave him for making money outside the company by using a character that was famous because of the WWE.
That didn't stop Bundy from trying, as he took on a role in Married... With Children. The first came in his final year with the WWE for the season 2 episode "All in the Family" (May 1, 1988). He played Uncle Irwin in that episode before returning for the season 10 episode "Flight of the Bumblebee", where he played King Kong Bundy.
12 KEVIN NASH AND GOLDBERG - LOVE BOAT: THE NEXT WAVE
The original Love Boat TV show was similar to Fantasy Island, where popular stars from movies and other TV series would guest star every week for a special storyline. While Fantasy Island was a sci-fi series with people living out their fantasies, Love Boat was, as the title suggests, more about personal relationships among guests taking a vacation on a cruise ship. The original series lasted nine seasons and included a number of specials, one of which was The Love Boat: A Valentine Voyage, featuring Rowdy Roddy Piper as muscle for a criminal on the ship.
12 years after the original series went off the air, and eight years after the special with Piper, Love Boat: The Next Wave hit the air and lasted two seasons.
The format was the same and two WCW stars appeared in the second season episode "Captains Courageous" (Oct. 23, 1998). Those men were Bill Goldberg and Kevin Nash, who happened to be feuding at the time in WCW.
They portrayed pro wrestling tag team partners involved in a personal disagreement, when one wrestler (Nash) believes the other's (Goldberg) new wife is threatening their partnership.
He then takes the same cruise as the two honeymooners for his own devious reasons.
11 BATISTA - SMALLVILLE
Dave Bautista has become one of the top former WWE superstars in Hollywood thanks mostly to his crowd-pleasing role as Drax the Destroyer in the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise. Outside of that, he has also proven himself in the James Bond franchise and had a great performance in Blade Runner 2049.
However, Drax was not even the first comic book role that the man once known as Batista took on. Before James Gunn brought him into the Marvel Cinematic Universe family, Bautista took on the role of a bad guy in the DC Comics television series Smallville.
Bautista portrayed a former Phantom Zone inmate named Aldar in the season 6 episode "Static" (Nov. 16, 2006). All that Bautista did in this episode was attack people, slamming them to the ground or over his knee. When Clark Kent finally got to him, he realized that Aldar matched him strength-for-strength and ended up needing a mysterious figure to save him.
There was little memorable about this Bautista role outside of the fact that the mysterious figure that destroyed him ended up being Martian Manhunter. The good news is that Bautista kept working hard and ended up impressing everyone with his portrayal of Drax eight years later.
10 STING - THE NIGHTMARE ROOM
R.L. Stein entertained kids everywhere for years with his Goosebumps books and TV shows. In 2001, The WB tried to catch that magic again with a new Stein anthology titled The Nightmare Room. Just like Goosebumps, this new series took stories from a Stein book series -- this one about kids who experience horrors invoking their fears.
The episodes always ended with a "lesson" and a narrator talking about the characters being in the Nightmare Room.
The TV series lasted only one season and the fourth episode, "Tangled Web", featured the man known as Sting.
This episode had a teenage boy named Josh who lies to his substitute teacher by saying his homework was stolen by home robbers dressed as clowns. He is known in school as a pathological liar, but when his substitute (David Carradine) says he believes him, every lie that Josh tells -- or has told -- starts to come true.
He ends up in great danger when clown robbers, living mummies, and an angry brother who never existed before show up to torment or attack him. Sting appears in the episode after Josh lies about being close friends with him, but tries to explain it away by saying Sting hates him now -- which leads to Sting attacking him at school.
9 JESSE "THE BODY" VENTURA - THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS
There have been a lot of professional wrestlers appearing in many movies and TV shows over the years. However, one of the most unusual -- as well as one that has glaring ulterior motives -- came in 2000 when former WWE superstar and the Governor of Minnesota Jesse "The Body" Ventura appeared on the daytime soap opera The Young and the Restless. Ventura was not playing a character in the series, but instead, he played himself -- as the Governor of Minnesota.
In the episode, Ventura visits Victor Newman -- the main character on the soap opera for almost four decades. Victor, who is considered a ruthless villain who is overly protective of those he loves, reveals that he is a long-time friend of Ventura in the soap's world.
The episode has Victor ask Ventura why he didn't run for President of the United States. At that point, Ventura says he would do it if Victor was his running mate, but they agree that their personalities are too strong and they would destroy the nation if they clashed.
It was funny, but it was also clear that this was a chance for Ventura to continue to play in his political sandbox at a time where he was still considering his future.
8 MACHO MAN RANDY SAVAGE - WALKER TEXAS RANGER
Macho Man Randy Savage has a lot of credits to his name outside of the WWE and many of them have to do with the fact that he is a professional wrestler.
A perfect example is in Spider-Man, where he plays Bone Saw McGraw and fought Spider-Man in the tough man contest. In 1999, after Savage was long gone from the WWE and was competing in WCW, he took on another role as a wrestler in the Chuck Norris action TV show, Walker Texas Ranger.
The episode took place in the eighth season, on Nov. 20, 1999. The episode had a prison warden in Arkansas making money holding illegal fights.
Walker went undercover as a prisoner to catch the warden in action and ended up inside the cage fighting an inmate named Whitelaw Lundren, played by Savage.
Former WWE and UFC champion Ken Shamrock also appeared in the episode. As with most Savage roles, it just required him to fight someone in a ring and look mean while doing so. As bad as that was, it isn't nearly as bad as when Sting appeared on a season nine episode as a bad guy named Grangus in a motorcycle gang that Walker had to battle.
7 THE MIZ - THE REAL WORLD
To be honest, if Mike Mizanin was not a contestant on The Real World, he likely would never have gotten his foot in the door with the WWE. The Miz appeared on The Real World: Back to New York in 2001, the 10th season of the popular MTV reality show. Of course, the entire premise of the show is to put strangers with different backgrounds and lifestyles into a house together for several months and film their every move.
The Miz was 20 at the time, a sheltered young man who grew up in a conservative household and said on the show that he never had interactions with many minorities, calling his own father a racist.
Shows like that can make or break a person (see: Puck from Real World: San Francisco). For The Miz, it made him. He developed his Miz persona while living in the house and was able to really come out of his shell. He appeared in a number of spinoffs of the series before he was able to catch on with the WWE in their Tough Enough competition in 2004.
At this point in his career, The Real World is where The Miz got his start, but he has gone far beyond that reality-based MTV show.
6 THE UNDERTAKER - POLTERGEIST: THE LEGACY
If anything can be said about the WWE, it is that it protects some of its stars to a great extent. That is very apparent when it comes to The Undertaker. The WWE tries to keep him out of the public eye as much as possible, does not have him do hardly any promotional events, and keeps his character at an almost mythological level.
There have been exceptions, such as when The Undertaker became Biker Undertaker for a while during the Attitude Era, but mostly Undertaker has remained behind-the-scenes and mysterious when he is not Tombstoning people in the squared circle.
That makes his appearance in the television series Poltergeist: The Legacy such a rare occurrence. The episode was from the fourth season of the series titled "Brother's Keeper" (June 4, 1999). This was around the end of his first gothic gimmick, where he was serving as the leader of the Ministry of Darkness and right before he became Biker Undertaker.
In the episode, Undertaker played a demon from Hell called the Soul Chaser, who caught and returned people that escaped from that realm.
Considering his role in the Ministry of Darkness and its very dark storylines, this held clear crossover appeal with the WWE Universe.
5 DWAYNE JOHNSON - THE NET
Dwayne Johnson already had one TV role on this list, but the WWE superstar has a second appearance that really shows how far he has come over his Hollywood career. Even his early roles in movies, like The Rundown, showed how charismatic the Most Electrifying Man in Sports Entertainment is, whether he was in a WWE ring or on the big screen.
However, in the same year he had the chance to play his father in That '70s Show, Johnson also took a role in the USA Network drama series The Net.
The TV show was a spinoff of the 1995 Sandra Bullock movie of the same name and starred former Melrose Place actress Brooke Langton in the lead role. The series only lasted for one season before USA Network canceled it. Johnson was still a main event star in the WWE at the time and appeared in the 20th episode of the season titled "Last Man Standing" (March 13, 1999).
The episode was about wrestling matches broadcasted online. The episode did the unthinkable -- it had Johnson portray a serious character and took away almost all his charisma, barely even allowing him to smile, much less deliver a one-liner.
4 JOHN CENA - MANHUNT
In 2001, the WWE teamed up with UPN to help create a new reality TV series called Manhunt. The show was meant to take contestants and have them go on the run from bounty hunters -- who were portrayed by actors. The one contestant who was able to get away from the bounty hunters the longest would win the prize.
It was set to shoot in Hawaii and worked out a deal with the WWE that included bringing in John Cena as a cast member for the series.
However, this is one TV show that Cena and the WWE might want fans to forget about. The deal with the WWE fell through when Vince McMahon, who pitched the original idea for Manhunt, launched the XFL, but that was the least of his worries.
In a huge report by E! News at the time, producer Bob Jaffe revealed that he quit the reality series when he claims Paramount TV chose to rig the show and ordered reshoots in Los Angeles instead of Hawaii, where it originally took place. There was even a contestant named Jacqueline Kelly who said she was asked to shoot new scenes, but she refused. While Paramount denied all the charges, the show was canceled after just six episodes.
3 HULK HOGAN - THUNDER IN PARADISE
Hulk Hogan did everything he could to launch his own acting career by piggybacking off his WWE success in the '80s. While he had success with his small role in Rocky III, he mostly had forgettable roles in a large number of B-movies, as well as two of his own headlining TV shows.
The more successful of the shows was his reality TV series Hogan Knows Best, which was about his home life and family. However, before that, Hogan tried to become a major TV star in his own right with the series Thunder in Paradise.
The TV show started airing in March 1994 after Hogan left the WWE and signed on with WCW. Hogan starred as former Navy SEAL Spencer, who worked with his partner Bru as mercenaries. They used their high tech boat called Thunder to fight villains and criminals all over the world.
The show only lasted for one season and 22 episodes before the network canceled it. The series also gave Hogan a chance to give his friends cameo roles, including Jimmy Hart, Sting, Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake, Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart, and many more. This ended up as a guilty pleasure and is one of those shows that is so bad it's good.
2 TRIPLE H - PACIFIC BLUE
In 1998, Mario Lopez appeared on an episode of WWE Sunday Night Heat (Aug. 2, 1998). Lopez, who made his name on the popular Saved by the Bell, was working on trying to develop a career after that show ended and found a new TV series to star in called Pacific Blue.
When Lopez appeared on Heat, he was sitting ringside with his co-star from Pacific Blue, Amy Hunter, when Val Venis shoved him. Lopez jumped the barrier and got in some shots before the security separated them. However, that was not the end of the WWE-Mario Lopez relationship.
The appearance by Mario Lopez was actually to promote the fact that WWE superstar Triple H was going to appear on Pacific Blue the next week. That episode aired August 9, 1998 and Triple H was not only on the show, but was in full DX attire.
Crazily, Triple H played himself and attacked the bicycle cops as they were chasing a criminal, fighting them all.
He finishes off the fighting with Mario Lopez's Bobby Cruz, before getting cracked over the head with a fire extinguisher to stop his reign of terror. There was absolutely no reason given why a WWE superstar was working as a heavy for the bad guys. He used his ring name and the Degeneration X song even played when he first appeared.
1 ROWDY RODDY PIPER - ROBOCOP: THE SERIES
The relationship between RoboCop and professional wrestling is a strange one. To really slam that point home, RoboCop even showed up in WCW, with Jim Cornette later revealing that it was the original RoboCop actor Peter Weller who showed up in costume to save Sting.
The entire Capital Combat '90 wrestling poster had RoboCop and the Road Warriors on it, without any other wrestlers promoted. The gimmick was for the Ted Turner-owned company to promote the release of RoboCop 2.
With that said, four years later, RoboCop: The Series was an official TV show which aired in Canada and was syndicated in the United States. The show took place after the storylines of the movies and it had RoboCop no longer ending criminals' lives, but rather stopping them in non-lethal ways - which was much less cool than the movies.
One of those bad guys was a crazy man named Commander Cash, who believed he was a superhero. Cash was played in the 14th episode "RoboCop vs. Commander Cash" (July 4, 1994) by the late Rowdy Roddy Piper. While Piper was fun as always, this was no They Live, and was just another chapter in the strange and incomprehensible relationship between RoboCop and the world of professional wrestling.
Did we miss any embarrassing role WWE stars have been in? Let us know in the comments!