in , ,

10 Pro-Wrestlers Who Played Essential Roles in Horror Movies

Professional wrestlers and horror icons share a knack for sadistic storytelling. So, it shouldn’t come as a complete shock when they team up and use their talents to contribute to the other’s craft. (Though that doesn’t stop us from “marking out” when it does happen…)

Recent pro-wrestling and horror crossovers include Chris Jericho co-hosting the season premiere of The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs, Tom Savini Studios creating Bray Wyatt’s “The Fiend” mask and Firefly Fun House, as well as the Soska Sisters casting CM Punk and AJ Lee in their film, Rabid.

In-ring performers create an illusion with their athleticism and showmanship to tell a story that stuns the fans. 

If you take a look at some of the most legendary gimmicks, spine-tingling feuds, and edge-of-your-seat matches, you’ll find key elements used in horror cinema—fear, suspense, mystery, and violence. (See: the cinematic Boneyard and Firefly Fun House matches that everyone is still talking about over a month later.)

Similar to horror movies, the audience has a character they want to see as the doomed victim or sole survivor in a match. The major difference is they get to express themselves through “[So-and-so] is gonna kill you!” or “Please don’t die!” chants to the performers—and not a screen—as the story unravels before them.

This kind of experience in the squared circle comes in handy when professional wrestlers transition into acting in gruesome flicks—where they help create a violent, disturbing illusion all the same without putting their bodies through hell.

In light of WWE’s recent ‘essential business’ designation, here are 10 pro-wrestlers who played essential roles in horror movies that’ll have you saying, “Oh, hell yeah!” or “What?” 

(Spoiler alert: Stone Cold Steve Austin is not on this list.)

10. Gene Snitsky – 100 Acres of Hell (2019)

Career: 
Gene Snitsky was portrayed as a sadistic monster of all sorts in his debut feud against Kane in 2004, where he accidentally caused Lita’s miscarriage, punted a “baby” and used a steel chair to crush Kane’s neck. After the feud was over, he went on to wreak havoc on in-ring opponents—which often resulted in either wins or disqualifications—until 2008.

Synopsis:
A professional wrestler retires after a traumatic injury and family tragedy. To cheer him up, his friends plan a “Bro’s Weekend” trip out in the woods. But what’s meant to be a good time goes awry when the group finds itself hunted by a bloodthirsty maniac.

Character:
Buck Severs

Trivia:
Professional wrestler Samula Anoa’i (Samu), who is known as one half of The Headshrinkers tag team, plays Jeb Tucker.

9. Hornswoggle – Leprechaun: Origins (2014)

Career:
In 2006, Dylan Postl made his debut as “Little Bastard”—Finlay’s leprechaun partner notorious for hiding under the ring and attacking his opponents. The following year, he took on the name “Hornswoggle” and won a Cruiserweight Open to become the new (and final) Cruiserweight Champion. Throughout his career, he was often used in comedy segments and matches, and was even revealed as Vince McMahon’s illegitimate son and the Anonymous Raw General Manager. 

Title reigns: WWE Cruiserweight Championship 

Synopsis:
Two American couples travel to Ireland for a backpacking trip and are persuaded by the townspeople into staying in a cabin for the night. It is then they learn the Leprechaun is anything but a myth.

Character:
The Leprechaun (Shocking, right?)

Trivia:
Leprechaun: Origins was produced by WWE Studios as a reboot in the Leprechaun series.

8. John Morrison – Minutes to Midnight (2018)

Career:
A young John Hennigan was rewarded with a WWE contract after winning Tough Enough III. Shortly after, he debuted as the at-the-time Raw General Manager, Eric Bischoff’s apprentice and eventually became “Johnny Nitro”. He was a member of the stable MNM with Joey Mercury and Melina and won the WWE Tag Team Championship three times. Nitro thrived as a singles competitor once the stable split in 2007 and he underwent a gimmick change as “John Morrison”. He departed from WWE in November 2011 and returned in January 2020.

Title reigns: ECW World Championship, WWE Intercontinental Championship (x3), WWE Tag Team Championship (x4), WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championship, World Tag Team Championship

Synopsis:
A group of friends and wandering backpacker cross paths in the mountains on New Year’s Eve and become the targets of murderous masked men.

Character:
Travis Crenna

Trivia:
The role of ‘Angus’ is played by Aaron Aguilera, who is best known for his gimmick as Jesús, Carlito’s bodyguard who “stabbed” John Cena. 

7. Goldberg – Santa’s Slay (2005)

Career:
In WCW, Bill Goldberg was established as an unstoppable force with a win-loss streak of 173-0. (That is, until our #6 pick broke it.) He carried over a similar persona when he speared The Rock in his 2003 debut, sparking a short rivalry he would win. He remained undefeated for the next six months. Later that year, he feuded with Triple H, whom he won the World Heavyweight Championship from and lost it to. Goldberg and Brock Lesnar went one on one in (what they thought would be) their final WWE match at WrestleMania XX and left the company. He returned in 2016 to feud with Lesnar and has since been inducted into the Hall of Fame and become a two-time WWE Universal Champion.

Title reigns: WWE Universal Championship (x2), World Heavyweight Championship 

Synopsis:
Santa Claus, a demon, spreads fear instead of cheer once his millennium-long bet with an angel comes to an end.

Character:
Santa

Trivia:
Goldberg uses his wrestling catchphrase “Who’s next?” to break the fourth wall at the end of the movie.

6. Kevin Nash – The Manor (2018)

Career:
Kevin Nash—who also kicked off his professional wrestling career in WCW—debuted as “Diesel” in a tag team with Shawn Michaels known as Two Dudes with Attitudes in 1993. In roughly a year’s time, Diesel became a double champion, holding both the WWF Intercontinental Championship and WWF Tag Team Championship. Though this status was short-lived, his reign as WWF World Heavyweight Champion was anything but. Once Two Dudes with Attitudes came to an end, Diesel defeated Bob Backlund for the title in just eight seconds. He held the championship for 358 days. Shortly after his title reign was over, he returned to WCW after being offered an enticing contract deal from WCW Executive Vice President, Eric Bischoff. Nash was a part of influential groups in his career such as The Kliq (Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Scott Hall and X-Pac) and New World Order (“Hollywood” Hulk Hogan and Scott Hall). Since 2002, he has made sporadic returns and appearances. Nash has been inducted in WWE’s Hall of Fame twice—individually in 2015 and with nWo in 2020.

Title reigns: WWF Championship, WWF Intercontinental Championship, WWF Tag Team Championship (x2)

Synopsis:
An 18-year-old girl checks out of an asylum and is reunited with her freakish family. Terrorized by past traumas, she is unable to differentiate between her visions and reality.

Character:
Reverend Thomas

Trivia:
This is the first horror movie Kevin Nash is not alongside fellow pro-wrestlers, as seen in Monster Brawl (2011) and River of Darkness (2011).

5. El Santo – Santo vs. las Mujeres Vampiro / Samson vs. the Vampire Women (1962)

Career:
Rodolfo Huerta started wrestling professionally as a teenager in 1934. From 1942 onward, he became known as “El Santo” and sported a silver mask and cape. The luchador enmascarado wrestled for almost 50 years and spent the majority of his career at Empresa Mundial de Lucha Libre, with notable moments including his feud with Blue Demon and tag team run with Gory Guerrero as the undefeated La Pareja Atomica (The Atomic Pair). He was devoted to wearing his mask, even in private, and revealed his face only once in public to acknowledge his retirement and say goodbye to fans. He died a week later on February 5, 1984. In his 2005 autobiography, Cheating Death, Stealing Life, Eddie Guerrero referred to Santo as a “bigger (legend) than Hulk Hogan and ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin combined” in his heyday. Santo was inducted in the Hall of Fame’s ‘Legacy’ wing in 2018.

Title reigns: Mexican National Middleweight Championship (x4), Mexican National Welterweight Championship (x2), Mexican National Light Heavyweight Championship, Mexican National Tag Team Championship (x2), NWA World Middleweight Championship, NWA World Welterweight Championship (x2)

Synopsis:
A professional wrestler must save a professor’s daughter from vampire women desperate to make her their queen.

Character:
El Enmascarado de Plata

Trivia:
Santo starred in 52 films—over half of them being horror films. (Which is why it would be a disservice to not mention him on this list!)

4. Kane – See No Evil (2006)

Career: 
Glenn Jacobs debuted as the demented dentist “Dr. Isaac Yankem” in 1995. Although his first gimmick got him a feud with Bret Hart, the masked pyromaniac “Kane” became his claim to fame. He rivaled against The Undertaker—his storyline half-brother—and later formed an alliance with him to become The Brothers of Destruction. His unmasking in 2003 prompted his character to become more twisted and ruthless. Kane had multiple reigns as champion in the tag team division in his career with partners including: Mankind, X-Pac, The Undertaker, The Hurricane, Rob Van Dam, Big Show and Daniel Bryan. In 2010, Kane became the first wrestler to have won the WWE Championship, ECW Championship and World Heavyweight Championship. Since then, he has appeared remasked as “The Big Red Machine” as well as in a suit and tie as “Corporate Kane”. Considering his accomplishments and time spent in the business, it is likely we’ll see Kane get inducted into the Hall of Fame. 

Title reigns: WWF Championship, World Heavyweight Championship, ECW Championship, WWF Hardcore Championship, WWF/WWE Intercontinental Championship (x2), WWE 24/7 Championship, WWF/WWE/World Tag Team Championship (x9), WWE Tag Team Championship (x2), WCW Tag Team Championship

Synopsis:
A reclusive killer raises hell on a group of teenage delinquents ordered to clean the abandoned hotel he occupies.

Character:
Jacob Goodnight

Trivia: 
See No Evil was the first major production of WWE Studios. 

3. CM Punk – Girl on the Third Floor (2019)

Career:
Phil Brooks made his debut with long-time ring name, “CM Punk”, on ECW in 2006 and maintained a six-month undefeated streak as a single competitor. In 2007, he became the new ECW Champion after defeating John Morrison. Punk won the Money in the Bank ladder match back-to-back in 2008 and 2009—and is still the only wrestler to do so—and cashed in against Edge and Jeff Hardy to become a two-time World Heavyweight Champion. Following his reigns, Punk became the leader of two stables, The Straight Edge Society and The New Nexus. In the midst of a feud with John Cena in 2011, Punk cut a promo that became known as the infamous “Pipe Bomb” where he aired his grievances with WWE and Vince McMahon. He went on to defeat Cena and become the WWE Champion and left the company in storyline only to return a week later. Months later, Punk regained the WWE Championship and successfully defended it for 434 days—making it one of the longest reigns in history. 

Title reigns: WWE Championship (x2), World Heavyweight Championship (x3), ECW Championship, WWE Intercontinental Championship, World Tag Team Championship

Synopsis:
A husband and soon-to-be father buys a run-down mansion with plans to renovate it for his family, but its disturbing history proves it’s beyond repair.

Character:
Don Koch

Trivia:
Girl on the Third Floor is Punk’s feature film debut.

2. The Rock – Doom (2005)

Career:
WWF’s first third-generation superstar, Dwayne Johnson, was “Rocky Maivia” when he debuted in 1996. In his first match, he victored as the sole survivor at Survivor Series. He defeated Hunter Hearst Helmsley in February 1997 to become the (at the time) youngest Intercontinental Champion in history. His push turned fans against him, so when he returned later that year, he joined the Nation of Domination (Faarooq, D’Lo Brown and Kama Mustafa) and took on a new persona as “The Rock”. It was then he became known for his catchphrases and eyebrow raises. His feuds with names like Stone Cold Steve Austin, Mankind, Triple H and Kurt Angle made the Attitude Era—and made The Rock a multiple time WWE and WCW Champion. Following the Attitude Era, The Rock rivaled against “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin, The Hurricane (yes, really) and Goldberg. In 2003, he started his comedic Rock Concert segments, where he played guitar and sang songs dissing the crowd or other superstars. The Rock took a hiatus starting in 2004 to pursue acting and returned part-time in 2011. He feuded with John Cena and defeated CM Punk to become WWE Champion before resuming his regular schedule in 2013. He has made special appearances since. The Rock remains “the most electrifying man in sports entertainment” history.

Title reigns: WWE Championship (x8), WCW Championship (x2), WWF Intercontinental Championship (x2), WWF Tag Team Championship (x5) 

Synopsis:
A team of space marines travel to Mars to investigate a reported security breach at a research facility and come face-to-face with genetically altered monsters.

Character:
Sarge

Trivia:
The Rock picked the role of Sarge over the lead role of John Grimm because he was drawn to the character, whom he felt was more interesting due to his darker persona.

1. “Rowdy” Roddy Piper – They Live (1988)

Career:
Roderick Toombs carried over his ring name as “Rowdy” Roddy Piper to WWF in his 1984 debut as a manager for “Dr. D” David Schultz. He wrestled full-time later that year and was known for donning a kilt and coming out to bagpipe entrance music. The charismatic, quick-tempered villain nicknamed “Hot Rod” put his mic skills and fighting spirit to good use on his segment—Piper’s Pit—where he interviewed main eventers, talked a bunch of trash and even used a coconut as a weapon. His famous rivalries include: Hulk Hogan, “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka, Adrian Adonis, Bad News Brown, Mr. T and Goldust. After a four month absence in 1986, Piper’s return storyline with Adonis had the fans cheering for him rather than booing him. (It would remain that way for the rest of his career.) He became the Intercontinental Heavyweight Champion in 1992 and lost the title to Bret Hart months later. From that point on, he primarily worked for the company on and off in non-wrestling roles. “Hot Rod” briefly returned after his 2005 Hall of Fame induction to feud with his former bodyguard “Cowboy” Bob Orton and Randy Orton, hold a few episodes of Piper’s Pit and win the World Tag Team Championship with Ric Flair. Piper made multiple appearances and cameos until late 2014. He passed away on July 31, 2015. WWE paid tribute to Piper and his career on the Monday following his passing, and in 2019, unveiled a statue dedicated to the legend at WrestleMania Axxess. He is remembered as one of the greatest, most iconic professional wrestlers of all time. 

Titles: WWF Intercontinental Heavyweight Championship, World Tag Team Championship

Synopsis:
A vagabond stumbles upon sunglasses that expose subliminal messages in the media—and the fact that many of the people around him are actually aliens.

Character:
John Nada 

Trivia:
The famous five minute (and mostly, real) fight between Nada and Frank was originally meant to be just 20 seconds long.

Well, there you have it—10 professional wrestlers who played essential roles in horror movies! (And don’t even get us started on the ones who did stunt work in our favorite scary flicks…)

What do you think?

Comments

Leave a Reply

Loading…

0

Written by Yvonne Villasenor

blank - AMC Releases Trailer, Key Art & Image Gallery for NOS4A2 Season 2

AMC Releases Trailer, Key Art & Image Gallery for NOS4A2 Season 2

blank - Trailer: HAVE A GOOD TRIP Explores the Highs & Terrifying Lows of Psychedelics

Trailer: HAVE A GOOD TRIP Explores the Highs & Terrifying Lows of Psychedelics