In case you weren’t aware, it was Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s 50th birthday last week.
He went from being one of the biggest stars in the history of professional wrestling to being one of the biggest stars in the history of movies, and now, he is becoming one of the biggest stars in business today. Teremana tequila has been setting all sorts of sales records. ZOA energy drinks have been doing the same. Every single time he teams with Under Armour to release shoes and clothing, they seem to sell out within days. Young Rock has been a successful sitcom for NBC over two seasons. He appeared on rapper Tech N9ne’s track, “Face Off,” and delivered the single greatest verse in the history of music, breaking the tie between all three verses on “You’re Welcome” from the Moana movie soundtrack. Everything he touches seems to turn to gold.
I was scrolling through my various social media accounts, and I saw a lot of discussion about Rock’s movie career. He’s not going to be confused with Daniel Day-Lewis when it comes to acting ability, but what can’t be denied is how much money his films are bringing in. The movies he has participated in have made BILLIONS OF DOLLARS worldwide. Every time you search the man’s IMDb page, it seems like you’ll find one or two new huge movies that he is attached to. The last time Dwayne Johnson had less than two movies come out in a calendar year was 2014, when he only starred in Brett Ratner’s Hercules. However, you could forgive him for slowing down in 2014, considering that he was in FIVE movies in 2013, with those films bringing in $1.3 billion in the box office alone.
I’m getting slightly off-track here.
I got to thinking about Rock transitioning from wrestling to Hollywood, and that led me down the rabbit hole of all sorts of related topics. What intrigued me was thinking about the future. Not The Rock’s future, but the future of wrestlers who are turning to the world of movies.
Honestly, if you’re a pro wrestler that has a chance to do movies, you’d be a fool not to think long and hard about it. It was reported that Roman Reigns was the highest-paid full-time (third overall, behind Brock Lesnar and John Cena) wrestler in the business in 2021, making $5 million as a base salary. Compare that to Dwayne Johnson, who can bring in more than $20 million per movie, and that doesn’t count the checks he’s getting from everything else he does.
So… who could be the next wrestler that jumps to Hollywood and has themselves a successful movie career?
I know that there’s a very obvious choice for a lot of you.
Not only does he have a few movies on his filmography already, but he is on record saying that he wants to “dabble” in more things in Hollywood. At the end of a recent house show, Reigns told the crowd that he didn’t know if he would be back performing in their city because he was about to start a new phase in his life. Now, you’ve heard heels say similar things before. They’ll talk about how they can’t wait to get out of Insert City Name Here because of how ugly and smelly its residents are, and so on. This, however, was during an out-of-character post-show promo that Reigns was cutting. Folks, this is a man who already has his eyes set on a post-WWE career. There are plenty of unconfirmed rumors floating around that have Roman’s WWE contract expiring at some point in 2023. Some of the rumors say the contract expires at some point soon after WrestleMania, while others say things like July or August. Can you imagine if we’re less than a year away from Roman Reigns leaving WWE, even if it’s just to become a part-time performer such as people like The Rock and John Cena before him? Dave Meltzer is reporting that Reigns has actually signed a new contract, and the new deal will see Reigns working far less dates. That has done nothing to stop the speculation about Reigns doing movies, as his wrestling schedule can now allow him to do more outside projects.
This column isn’t about Roman Reigns, though. That can be a bridge I cross at a later point once we’ve gotten some concrete information, instead of just unconfirmed stories that some “smaller” sites have published.
I started thinking about others that could transition to movies. Someone like The Miz popped into my head, but that thought didn’t last. Miz has made himself a bit of a living doing direct-to-video movies like the last four Marine movies, Santa’s Little Helper, and doing voice work for Scooby-Doo films. However, I’m talking about big-time Hollywood movies. Ones that show up in theaters and bring in a shit ton of money. Say whatever you want about the acting ability of someone like Dwayne Johnson, but he’s motherfucking Sir Laurence Olivier compared to Miz, who has more ham in his acting than a beginner’s holiday charcuterie board.
There are plenty of other wrestlers who have acting credits in their lives. Whether it’s Edge, Randy Orton, Ronda Rousey, Sasha Banks, CM Punk, Miro, Paul Wight, and many others… there are numerous folks who have been seen in TV shows and movies in recent years. Then you have someone like Jade Cargill, who hasn’t done any acting outside of appearing on Cody and Brandi Rhodes’ reality show, but her fans SWEAR she has everything it takes to be a star in Hollywood. I can see it. She’s a beautiful woman with the body of a superhero, so seeing her in some sort of role like that isn’t exactly outside the realm of possibility. I just want to see more out of her personality in wrestling before I can fully make that type of decision.
The reason I’m writing this column is someone else with no movie or television credits in their past. Someone that is still, technically, in the early stages of their wrestling career. This person has gotten over in the business because of their heel work, but they’ve also proven they can do the face thing and be successful at it, showcasing the “range” they have.
Folks, I know I’m crazy for thinking this, but I’m throwing it out there… I think MJF could be a successful actor one day, should he decide he wants to do it.
Think about what I said. He was building a ton of buzz for his work as a heel even before AEW, back when he didn’t have a national television slot to use on a weekly basis. In all of wrestling, you’re not going to find someone who is as dedicated to their character as MJF is. Then, just when you think he’s going to be a hated heel for the rest of time, we got to witness something incredible during his recent feud with CM Punk… acting. If you watch AEW, you know what I’m talking about. This man, who gets booed for breathing, was able to go out in front of the diehard AEW fans and do some masterful work that got fans to feel for him. We got to see him almost play to the crowd, coming across as a real person and sharing his story with the world. That story… one of being bullied as a teenager and being able to find something like wrestling that he could turn to… is one that many people can relate to, in one way or another. He was able to pull fans in, and it wasn’t just with his words. His facial expressions were excellent as he talked, portraying the pain he was speaking about as he walked down memory lane and had to relive the worst times of his life. He was able to turn the tears on so easily and effortlessly. This might be the hardest time in the history of wrestling to “trick” fans. We’ve become so jaded through the years, but there we were, openly discussing what might be the best promo work that wrestling has seen in years. Then, just like that, he was able to flip the switch back again, revealing that it was all a ruse to get into Punk’s head.
He got us, and he got us good.
I know what I saw, though, and that was an actor. Not just an actor, but an actor. Someone that was able to take viewers on a ride, even one that was as brief as the one we got to be on.
Look, I’m not sitting here saying that MJF is going to be the next Dwayne Johnson, or even that he could be. It doesn’t take a genius to see that they would be in two entirely different lanes as actors. Could MJF do action roles where guns are fired, explosions are made, cars are crashed, and fist fights are had? Of course he could. Not every action star has to look like The Rock. If Hollywood can take Tom Cruise and Vin Diesel, who are both the same height as my three-and-a-half year old daughter, and turn them into action stars, it could do the same with MJF. I just think there could/should be more depth to the roles that MJF might get than what we’ve seen from a lot of wrestlers-turned-actors in the past, from Hulk Hogan to The Rock to “Stone Cold” Steve Austin to Bill Goldberg, and countless others.
It’s tough to really gauge MJF’s future. He’s only 26 years old. Usually, when we discuss pro wrestlers potentially jumping to Hollywood, we’re talking about people who are fully established World Champions and/or people who are coming up on the end of their in-ring careers. MJF is going to be a World Champion one day, and probably one day much sooner than later. That’s not a wild statement to make. In character, he has continued to make reference to his AEW contract expiring in January 2024, and how he knows there’s going to be a huge bidding war for his services at that time. The reality is that his contract does, in fact, expire at that point, and you know good and well that WWE is going to be sniffing around to see if they can bring him over. This makes any predictions of him turning his sights to Hollywood, even for a movie or two, a major stretch. Even if he does decide acting is something he wants to do, it could be years… well over a decade, potentially… until he tests those waters.
I already said that I know I’m crazy for thinking that about MJF, but now it’s your turn to tell me just how crazy I am, ReaderLand. What do you think about MJF as a movie star at some point? Other than Roman Reigns, is there any other wrestler you think could/should become the sport’s next major acting star, whether I mentioned them in this column or not? As always, drop me a line in the comments section below, or on Twitter (@HustleTheSavage), and let me know what’s on your mind.
Weekly Power Rankings
- William Regal’s Blackpool Combat Club Vignette: If I’m going to be honest, this was one of the best promos or promo-like media I’ve seen in years. William Regal was on fire here, coming across as one of the most menacing and dastardly men in the business. He would talk about how the Blackpool Combat Club want to torture their opponents and inflict as much pain as physically possible. It helped to make his group stand out, especially on a roster that is full of wrestlers who want to look as flashy as can be. Meanwhile, you have Bryan Danielson, Jon Moxley, Wheeler Yuta, and William Regal, who will watch you do your flips and dives, and will then look to break every bone in your body. Amazing, amazing work.
- Drew McIntyre & RK-Bro vs The Bloodline: As I said in my Running Diary, this started off as a good house show main event type of match, and then it escalated into something great. I’m still a little disappointed we got a match with no real stakes on the line, but this was a really fun six-man tag that I enjoyed from bell-to-bell.
- Charlotte Flair vs Ronda Rousey: I wasn’t a fan of their match at WrestleMania, but the rematch was so much better. A very physical brawl.
- Ace Austin vs Trey Miguel: Ace Austin is on a huge roll right now. The X-Division, in general, is on a huge roll right now. So much excitement and “wow” moments. It’s still a shame that it isn’t happening in front of more fans, both in person and as far as television viewers are concerned. A lot of people are missing out.
- Cody Rhodes vs Seth Rollins: Seth Rollins continues to be one of the best in-ring performers of this generation, able to have great match after great match against an incredibly varied group of opponents. No matter who you are, what your wrestling style is, and where you are on the card… if you step in the ring with Rollins, you’re going to be involved in something entertaining. He has been a great choice for Cody’s first feud back with WWE.
- Josh Alexander vs Tomohiro Ishii: If you know Ishii’s work, you know you’re going to see a brutal, stiff battle that is going to take a ton out of both him and his opponent. This was no different. Josh Alexander continues to be putting out great work, showing that he deserves this rise to the top of the Impact Wrestling mountain. It was just the type of match that Alexander needed to continue boosting his profile.
- AJ Styles vs Edge: Another really good match between these two. It was another match that didn’t quite reach Match Of The Year contender, but not every match needs to be there. It worked well, especially to help build the Judgment Day stable. Damian Priest did his thing, and now, Rhea Ripley is in the mix. This could potentially be huge for her. There has been buzz that Tommaso Ciampa could be the next member of the group, which would create one helluva lineup.
- Konosuke Takeshita vs Jay Lethal: New Japan gets the huge chunk of the attention when it comes to puroresu in Japan, and for good reason. There is a ton of greatness outside of New Japan, though, and DDT Pro’s Konosuke Takeshita is in that category. Admittedly, I’ve only been watching his stuff for the last few months, so I’m a little late to the party, but better late than never. Takeshita has worked a few matches with AEW, but this one was so much fun. He looked like a million bucks, and kudos to Jay Lethal for his part in that. I’m not saying Takeshita SHOULD be competing for the AEW World Title soon, but I’m saying that he looked like he COULD do so.
- Dante Martin vs Rey Fenix: One of them is superhuman, capable of pulling off feats of aerial wizardry that shouldn’t be possible. The other is superhuman, capable of pulling off feats of aerial wizardry that shouldn’t be possible. When you put these two in the ring together, you know exactly what you’re going to get. Sure enough, we got exactly what we thought we would get here, but in no way is that a bad thing.
- Theory vs Cody Rhodes: Theory continues to be underrated, as he keeps having really good matches on a near-weekly basis, but people bash him because they don’t like the “Vince McMahon’s Golden Boy” stuff. Years ago, I said he was going to be the next John Cena, and he still looks like he could be on that trajectory when it comes to what Vince loves and what Vince wants to see out of his top performers.
- Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods vs Sheamus & Ridge Holland: The whole Butch thing is still weird, and I still wish it was just Pete Dunne teaming with Sheamus and Ridge Holland, but this was a good’n. Maybe the two teams should move on, though.
- Batista’s 20th Anniversary: It wasn’t quite the same as Randy Orton’s recent 20th anniversary, as Batista was only around as an active performer for about nine of those 20 years, but there is no denying the mark he has left on the industry. His rise to the top of WWE was great, with his face turn as he left Evolution being one of the absolute best star-making stories in the history of the business. “The Animal” shined as a face and as a heel, as a singles star and in tag teams. Now, he’s a star in Hollywood. He deserves the success he’s been having.
- Adam Page’s “Heel” Promo: I have no idea if he’s actually going to turn heel, but he sure as hell came across as a heel in this promo, selling his upcoming AEW World Title defense against CM Punk. Page has been one of the most beloved members of the AEW roster, so it was really strange to see him acting like a heel out of nowhere, but, oddly, it worked.
- Alexa Bliss: She’s back! Again. Will she stick around this time? We shall see.
- AEW Stars Getting More Mainstream Appearances: Adam Cole and Britt Baker are going to be appearing on Bar Rescue. Orange Cassidy, Chuck Taylor and Kris Statlander are going to be appearing on Floor Is Lava. Are those two of the biggest shows around? No. However, it’s good to see AEW wrestlers getting more chances to be on mainstream shows. WWE stars are always involved in television and movies, and it can only benefit AEW to have their wrestlers popping up here and there. Anything that could potentially get more eyeballs on the AEW product should be praised.
- Deonna Purrazzo vs Mercedes Martinez: So far, the synergy between AEW and Ring Of Honor has been pretty decent. I think it’s pretty obvious that it will only grow as time goes on, but I like seeing the dabbling of seeing them working together. Yes, I’m aware Tony Khan runs both companies. I’m just saying that seeing these new wrestlers and new matches on AEW programming is possibly helping to grow the RoH “brand” right now.
- A Hookhausen Tease: We thought Hook would destroy Danhausen. What we might be getting is Hook and Danhausen becoming the Odd Couple that many of us didn’t know we needed. Let’s do it. Right now, there’s not much better that can be done for either man, so we might as well. It will allow Hook to show a lot more than what he’s been doing to this point.
- W. Morrisey: With Impact not exactly being the biggest wrestling promotion around, a lot of wrestling fans haven’t really seen Morrisey since his Big Cass days in WWE. It must’ve been a pretty big surprise to see the shape that he’s in now. He looks so much better than he did when he was Big Cass. Sure, he was only in AEW to put Wardlow over, but he looked good enough in doing so that WWE was impressed by his performance and have been digging around to see when he might be contractually able to return to the company.
- Ruby Soho & Toni Storm vs Britt Baker & Jamie Hayter: Social media is focused on Toni Storm and Jamie Hayter’s battle of the backsides. That’s great and all, but I like the work they’ve been doing. Hayter is really putting on some good matches, and has been getting a lot better. Storm, of course, is phenomenal, and should be competing for the AEW Women’s Title or the TBS Title soon.
- Enjoying When Things Don’t Mean Anything: Personally, I love it when things mean something. Other people love it when nothing matters. Those people are probably loving what is happening with Lacey Evans. We got to see weeks of vignettes that helped to paint Lacey Evans in a very positive light, making her look like an actual living breathing human being instead of an insanely outdated dumbass cartoon character. So, after weeks of vignettes on Smackdown that got Lacey Evans cheered, what is going to happen? Well, according to reports, she’s randomly being sent to Raw, where she will be a heel again. What the fuck is the point?
This Week’s Playlist: “The Heart Part 5” by Kendrick Lamar… “Young Harleezy” by Jack Harlow… “First Class” by Jack Harlow… “Dua Lipa” by Jack Harlow… “Parent Trap” by Jack Harlow & Justin Timberlake… “Nail Tech” by Jack Harlow… “Neverita” by Bad Bunny… “Callaita” by Bad Bunny… “Therapy Music” by Logic & Russ… “Step Back” by Juicy J & Duke Deuce… “A Cloak Woven Of Stars” by Lacrimas Profundere… “RAINING BLOOD” by Jeris Johnson & ZillaKami… “The Light” by Seventh Wonder… “Neva Eva” by Trillville, Lil Scrappy & Lil Jon… “Head Bussa” by Lil Scrappy & Lil Jon… “The Truth” by Beanie Sigel… “Often” by The Weeknd… “The Hills (Remix)” by The Weeknd & Eminem… “Want You Bad” by The Offspring… “Brain Stew” by Green Day… “Nightbird” by Kalapana… “The Hurt” by Kalapana… “You Ku’uipo” by Willie K… “Good Morning” by Willie K… “You Don’t Write” by Ka’au Crater Boys