I’m a little put off by the barrage of blog posts about “the greatest pro wrestlers turned actors” and the equally large variations of the phrase.
There’s no question that the last thirty-plus years of professional wrestling’s popularity have opened doors for a number of pro grapplers to enjoy a side or, in some cases, a second career as an actor.
Still, the problem I have with the statement is that it is not specific enough.
If you want to discuss the greatest or most popular wrestlers who have acted…that’s one thing. If you want to argue which of the wrestlers who have enjoyed the greatest success in acting…that’s another matter.
Either way, it is wholly subjective.
I want to make it objective and to do that, I use the term prolific because it references the body of work.
Using the body of work as a measuring stick and using imdb.com and its list of acting credits, I present, from the smallest to the largest, the wrestlers who have had the most prolific acting career:
Here they are, in reverse order:
Andre “The Giant” Roussimoff: 12 acting credits
Andre most certainly would have had a much larger amount of acting work had he not passed away at age 46.
John Cena: 13 acting credits
One gets the impression that as Cena is now ensconced in the latter stages of his in-ring career, his acting appearances will increase. He is likely to gain considerable mainstream attention later this year when his appears in the Tina Fey/Amy Poehler film, Sisters hits screens.
Kevin Nash: 17 acting credits
Nash has played well on his giant height and tough guy presence. He's a personable, intelligent guy who, when he gets roles with more dimensionality will increase his show business profile and rack up even more credits.
Steve Austin: 19 acting credits
"Stone Cold" Steve Austin still remains on the fringe of pro wrestling with an extremely possible podcast and the occasional appearance as a guest at pay per view events. There are those who still seem to think that he still has one more match left in him. Be that as it may, it doesn’t seem like Austin really goes after an abundance of acting work.
Hulk Hogan: 26 acting credits
With all due respect to his massive popularity, Hogan is really a bad actor and his forays into a number of roles seem to have been in line with the colossal endeavors to keep him in the public eye. Perhaps if he lost the ever-present bandana and the mullet it might help get more acting work. Then again, at this stage of his life, acting jobs might be an afterthought.
Ric Drasin: 27 acting credits
Drasin was largely a regional wrestler, based largely in his home state of California. He was also a successful bodybuilder and entrepreneur. These days, he hosts a highly popular You Tube show on bodybuilding and fitness with the occasional episode dedicated to his wrestling days.
Dwayne Johnson: 46 credits
There’s no question that he will be the most successful wrestler turned actor. He is well on his way. Part of the reason for his success is his huge popularity and, given his relative youth, he’s really still just getting started.
Roddy Piper: 50 credits
When Piper headlined They Live, many thought he would leave pro wrestling all together but he would return several times. My feeling is if that he had quit the ring game, he could have enjoyed a level of acting popularity similar to Dwayne Johnson. Still, Piper managed to notch up an abundance of film and TV roles.
Mike Mazurky: 159 credits
There’s a good chance you aren’t familiar with Mr. Mazurky. That’s for two reasons. First, he was born in 1907 and second, during his long wrestling career, he was known mostly as a “mid-card” guy who rarely wrestled in main events. Much of mat days preceded television.
A large, rough-looking man, Mazurky the actor, specialized in playing tough guy roles for some fifty years. That’s an enviable longevity in any career.
Mazurky’s greatest pro wrestling contribution was his creation of The Cauliflower Alley Club, a fraternal and benevolent association to honor those involved in the business.
Furious 7 debuts in April