Marvel Studios Guardians of the Galaxy, starring WWE’s Dave Bautista, opened to the tune of $94 million (projected) at the box office this past weekend. This puts Bautista, who goes by the ring name of simply “Batista,” right behind Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson – Fast & Furious 6 scored $97.3 million in its opening weekend last spring – when it comes to the greatest opening weekends for a pro wrestler of all-time.
When it comes to Batista, it isn’t just the huge opening weekend that has fans on the WWE sides of things talking; it’s that he actually nailed his role as Drax the Destroyer, a well-known Marvel character that debuted all the way back in 1973. The former six-time world champion worked seamlessly with the ensemble cast of Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper, Lee Pace, Vin Diesel and others to create this instant classic.
To celebrate Batista’s big weekend we’ll take a look below at some of the other major pro wrestling stars who garnered attention for their contributions to the big screen.
• While he didn’t really find much success at the box office, Terry “Hulk Hogan” Bollea certainly made his mark. Although he only logged a handful of minutes on-screen as “Thunderlips,” this is probably Hogan’s best role because he barely had to speak. Sylvester Stallone was so impressed by Hogan’s performance against Andre the Giant in their “Showdown at Shea” match that he would offer him the opportunity to play this Mountain of Molten Lust” in his third Rocky offering.
The match between Thunderlips and Balboa added a nice little change of pace to what still stands today as arguably the greatest sports film series of all-time.
“The Hulkster” would be tapped for a lead role in New Line Cinema’s No Holds Barred, a film that produced a whopping $4.9 million in its opening weekend back in June of 1989. Hogan would go on to feud with Zeus, who was played by his co-star, Tommy ‘Tiny’ Lister, in the WWF after the film was released. If I told you that I kept a straight face while typing all of this and reliving this whole piece of pro-wrestling history in my head I’d be lying.
Many will argue that Hogan was the most overrated wrestler of the 1980’s. However, you cannot argue that he had a huge hand in making pro-wrestling the big time phenomenon it is today due to his ability to entertain. Somehow that skill got lost in translation when he moved to the big screen, as he would only find himself in small time cameos following No Holds Barred. To his credit, his voice work as Terrafirminator F.O. in Gnomeo and Juliet” added some humor to Disney’s 2011 hit 3-D computer animated film.
• “Diamond” Dallas Page and Danny “Machete” Trejo made magic as “The Unholy Two” in Rob Zombie’s The Devil’s Rejects.
• Many thought we’d see plenty more of Paul Levesque (Triple H) in moving pictures after his inclusion in the third and final film of the ultra popular Blade series, Blade: Trinity.
• Detroit, Michigan’s Kevin Nash has found moderate success in the world of film with roles in feature films like The Punisher, The Longest Yard, and most recently as a male stripper in the hit Steven Soderbergh film Magic Mike. We will spare you a clip from that film and instead hit you with a clip from Nash’s portrayal as Super Shredder in TMNT 2: The Secret of the Ooze.
• Before he was the Governor of Minnesota, and after his stint as a professional wrestler, Jesse “The Body” Ventura had a great year in 1987 alongside Arnold Schwarzengger in Predator and The Running Man. Like Schwarzenngger, the former Navy SEAL officer and conspiracy theorist continues to live up to his “no time to bleed” persona.
• The most legendary big man of all-time, Andre the Giant, will also forever be remembered for his role in one of the most charming films of all-time – The Princess Bride. “Anybody want a peanut?”
• While this pro-wrestling super heel may never have found major success on the big screen, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper continues to appear at Horror conventions around the States to sign autographs on copies of They Live DVD’s and VHS tapes. The film only cost $3 million to make and earned $13 in its time on the big screen. If you find yourself reading a top ten cult film’s of all-time list and this one isn’t included in it then I would immediately dismiss that list. Piper and Keith David’s fight scene in the film remains as one of the greatest screen fights of all-time as well.
• No one from the world of professional wrestling has found more success in Hollywood than “The People’s Champion” himself – Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. His films have made nearly $2 billion total worldwide with eleven of them surpassing the $100 million marker. “The Rock” has become a go to leading man for films in every genre. He’s also helped already successful franchises like The Mummy and Fast and Furious continue their success.
Johnson’s most recent major motion picture release, Hercules, had a slightly disappointing opening last weekend finding itself in the number two spot behind Luc Besson’s Lucy. Johnson will reprise his role as DSS federal agent Luke Hobbs in Fast and Furious 7. That film is currently set to be released on April 3rd of 2015. The most electrifying man in all of Sports Entertainment has also been rumored to be the latest addition to the Marvel film universe as Luke Cage.