Freddie Prinze Jr. Ranks The Hollywood Careers Of WWE Stars

During an appearance on his "Wrestling with Freddie" podcast, actor and former WWE writer Freddie Prinze Jr. named his top wrestler-turned-actor.

"Dave's [Bautista] the best actor out of every wrestler that's turned actor, that's gone into movies," Prinze Jr. said. "And you've been able to watch this growth from film to film, and it's like watching a five-year-old hit a growth spurt where you're just like, 'Man, two weeks ago you were this little dude, and now you're like four inches bigger. What the hell happened?' That's every movie he does. He is significantly, significantly better each time. Every performance he's put out is superior to the last one, every single time.

"I don't know how he's developing these tools so quickly, but he's developing these tools quickly. And I can't wait to see where it goes from here. I don't think anybody saw this coming out of WWE. And granted, the writing wasn't the best; he seemed like a lifetime wrestler. Even when he decided to leave, I don't know if everyone was like, 'Oh yeah, this is gonna work out. He's gonna be a big star.' And then, out of nowhere, here he comes."

Dave Bautista's first movie role was an uncredited cameo in "Relative Strangers," which was released in 2006. He is now known for playing Drax the Destroyer in Marvel Studios' "Guardians of the Galaxy" movies. Bautista, who left WWE in 2010 before making brief returns in 2014 and 2018, recently wrapped up filming for the upcoming releases of "Dune: Part 2" and "My Spy: The Eternal City." Earlier this year, the former WWE Champion spoke about his successful transition from wrestling to Hollywood, admitting that he struggled in his first few years outside of WWE.

'This was unwatchable'

On the same "Wrestling with Freddie" podcast episode, Prinze Jr. also named his worst wrestler-turned-actor.

"And then we get to the worst of the bunch — Hulk Hogan," Prinze Jr. said. "That's right, ladies and gentlemen, your hero from the 80s that told you to take vitamins, and lied about steroids, and, well, just about everything he's ever talked about ... But what's important is not 'Rocky III,' — I'll give him that. In 'Rocky III' he was actually good. He just had to play a menacing, crazy guy, which is cool. But then we get to these gems known as 'No Holds Barred,' 'Suburban Commando,' 'Three Ninjas.' 

"'Suburban Commando,' I think that was the one with the speedboat. That was the roughest one to get through. I go to movies wanting to find something to like. I don't go there looking to hate on these things. This was unwatchable."

Hulk Hogan's first movie appearance came in 1982, when he played Thunderlips in "Rocky III." He then portrayed Rip Thomas in "No Holds Barred" seven years later, before appearing as himself in "Gremlins 2: The New Batch" the following year. Hogan played Shep Ramsey in "Suburban Commando" in 1991. He appeared in "3 Ninjas: High Noon at Mega Mountain" in 1998. The WWE Hall of Famer's most recent movie role came in 2011, where he was the voice of Terrafirminator V.O. in "Gnomeo & Juliet."

'They needed a big, buff, good-looking stud'

Former WWE Champions Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and John Cena have also made successful transitions onto the silver screen, with Johnson becoming one of the most successful actors in Hollywood. Prinze Jr. commented on the beginning of Johnson and Cena's acting careers.

"And this one, I think he [Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson] would agree with any criticism on, 'The Scorpion King' [in 2002],'" Prinze Jr. said. "They didn't give him much to do because he wasn't ready to be a leading man yet. They needed a big, buff, good-looking stud ... He started to try and challenge himself after that, with the 'Get Shorty' sequel, which I think was called 'Be Cool.' You saw him start to kind of try to spread his wings a bit, and start working with high-quality actors, and really get challenged."

Prinze Jr. noted that Cena's acting career began with "The Marine" by WWE Studios in 2006. He described it as "humble beginnings" for the 16-time WWE world champion. Prinze Jr. felt that Cena did a good job. He said that Cena's "Marine" persona somewhat held him together during a period when he was taking "PG heat" from WWE fans. Prinze Jr. added that people got to see a different side of Cena when he was given a chance in the "Trainwreck" movie. He said that Cena was "low-key funny" in that release.

'One of my favorite wrestlers of all time'

After commenting on the beginning of Johnson and Cena's acting careers, as well as naming his best and worst wrestler-turned-actor, Prinze Jr. revealed his personal favorite wrestler-turned-actor.

"I've already acknowledged that Dave Bautista is the best of the bunch," Prinze Jr. said. "But my favorite of all wrestlers-turned-actors... Mr. 'Rowdy' Roddy Piper. That's right, 'Rowdy' Piper, one of my favorite wrestlers of all time, and he's in one of my favorite movies of all time, which is 'They Live.' John Carpenter's 'They Live.'"

The late "Rowdy" Roddy Piper appeared in a plethora of movies between 1978 and 2016, playing many lead roles. The first film he featured in was "The One and Only" as Joe 'Leatherneck Joe' Grady; Piper was uncredited for this role. Piper played the lead role of Nada in "They Live" in 1988. His final movie appearances were in the posthumous releases of "The Bet" and "The Chair."

If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit "Wrestling with Freddie" with an h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.