With wrestling and cinema going head-to-head this Sunday, when WWE’s Fastlane goes up against the 87th annual Academy Awards, I figured it’d be best to provide you with the definitive ranking of the best fictional wrestlers in movie history. I tried to hold back on this list until Luis Guzman’s Aztec Warrior was finally released, as I’m sure he would’ve provided with a memorable interpretation of a luchador, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen any time soon. First, a few honorable mentions.
The level of commitment Vince McMahon has for his company has never been questioned. He’s gone above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to entertaining his fans. But he’s also rewarded himself with some onscreen romances and trysts with some of the most beautiful women to have ever worked for the WWE. All in the name of doing what’s best for business.
In the late 80’s/early 90’s, Hulk Hogan wasn’t the only household wrestling name when it came to outside film and TV projects. In fact, Roddy Piper and Jesse Ventura were in A LOT better movies than Hogan was. I’ll always choose Jesse Ventura in The Running Man over any Hogan vehicle, except for maybe No Holds Barred. That movie is an undeniable classic to seven-year-old me. And Roddy Piper is basically pro wrestling’s Samuel L. Jackson, he’ll take any role so long as the check clears. As of this writing he has five projects in post-production.Yet, Ventura and Piper’s combined star power wasn’t enough to get their one-hour pilot, Tag Team, picked up for a full season. Which is a shame when you consider Thunder in Paradise ran for 22 episodes.
Even after a year rife with bad press regarding their racial politics and lack of a black world champion, the WWE has decided to make good through their WWE Network by honoring Black History Month. Only problem is, it’s a pretty half-assed job. As someone that’s not familiar with the PYT Express I was hoping for something more than some random promo of them at an airport where you can barely make out what’s being said, or what the damn point is. And I appreciate the callback to Booker T.’s Ebony Experience days, but I could’ve come up with at least 50 other videos showcasing Booker T.’s accomplishments. And then there’s the backstage bit involving Cryme Tyme, probably the least offensive one that exists of them. Which bring me to this list. While WWE likes to pat themselves on the back for how far along they think they’ve come in portraying African-American wrestling characters, I’d like to provide 10 reminders of how far they set them back as well.
Having never had much of an interest in actual sports, most of my exposure to “real” sports usually came from being forced to watch with a group of friends, or by way of pro wrestling. Yes, as much as Vince McMahon hates the NFL for continually losing a certain Monday Night War that occurs every football season, the WWE and other promotions have never shied away from the publicity that comes with piggybacking on the NFL’s popularity. So, I figured I’d share just how much the NFL has influenced professional wrestling over the years. Which would’ve made more sense if I had posted this the day of Super Bowl XLIX, but oh well.
Ah, the early 2000’s. Mountain Dew was that generation’s choice of soft drink, Jack Ass set the new standard for how to best impress your friends, and wrestling was a thing that the mainstream media was actually interested in covering. So naturally anything targeting that sweet 18-49 demographic was going to include the variant use of the word extreme. It worked for Doritos!
While the Cold War had been a thing since the late 1940’s, it was still a pretty intense situation in the 1980’s and, most importantly, a major part of the fabric that made up a lot of 1980’s popular culture. You had Sylvester Stallone defending America’s honor against the Soviets in the best Rocky movie since the first one, Rocky IV. Even “teenage” movie heartthrobs answered the call to arms in the war against Soviet Russia in the original Red Dawn. And wrestling was no different. Always trying to remain relevant with the times, every territory had its own Red Menace, sometimes even two.