On the heels of Mark Millar endorsing John Cena for the “Superior” live-action adaptation, we started thinking about who could make the jump from the superstar ring to the super-powered screen. Several have already have, of course, from Dave Bautista, who impressed as the ferocious yet innocently naive Drax in James Gunn’s “Guardians of the Galaxy,” Triple H in “Blade: Trinity” and Kevin Nash as a Russian thug in “The Punisher.” More recently, Cody Rhodes finally got to live his dream and face off against Oliver Queen in “Arrow.”
Of course, not many superstars can claim the success of the above, let alone achieve what The Rock has, both in the past and in his upcoming roles in “Doc Savage” and as Black Adam. Still, with the right role, any wrestler-turned-actor can command a great performance. With that in mind, here are a few picks we think would be great in the comic book movie world.
15. Glorious Godfrey: Paul Heyman
No one cuts a promo like Heyman. Whether he’s acting as an advocate for ECW, CM Punk or Brock Lesnar, he’s as majestic as he is vile. No matter how much you despise him, you’re stuck to the TV like glue when Heyman goes off on one of his speeches. He is magnetic, to say the least. That brings us to Godfrey. If Darkseid’s looking for that sock puppet to spew his word and basically become his public relations officer on Earth, preparing them for Apokolips Now, then he should look no further than the man whose mic-work can go toe-to-toe with the most eloquent of politicians. Godfrey needs that slithery yet palatable presence; one you may not like, but one you’ll respect (and even eventually buy into). Heyman has that magic to convert those against him and influence the blind. We’ve seen him tussle with some of the biggest and best when it comes to the mic, but when all’s said and done, his verbal sparring is not just animated but one that can leave you questioning your faith. PING!
14. Mojo: Vince McMahon
C’mon, are you really surprised? A major scumbag throwing together gladiators in an arena to duke it out to the death? That’s Vince’s calling card right there. Mojo isn’t just a slaver, he’s also a satirical parody of how network execs operate for ratings. If that’s not right up Vince’s alley, nothing is. Mojo’s run afoul of the X-Men quite a bit, and is one of the most quaint villains in the 616, encompassing so many of the lunatic idiosyncrasies we’ve seen with Vince. With a thirst for power to a compulsive drive to control everyone and everything, Mojo is just as into reality television as the WWE is at present. And like Mojo, now Vince even has his own station. Hell, he has his own “universe.” If ever there had to be a nerdy comparison of the WWE, the Mojoverse would fit the bill perfectly. It exploits the minds and bodies of its fighters, pinning their hopes, dreams and survival on the most savage of art forms, while the loud-mouthed, swaggering creatures at the top just get more and more swollen.
13. Bane: Brock Lesnar
No need to stick to the Spanish origins in Santa Prisca when it comes to Bane, because all we really need is his raw powerhouse presence. He is a monster. He is a born fighter. He is, dare we say, a beast incarnate. Sound familiar? Lesnar’s new shtick has seen him brawling, beating and yes breaking opponents mercilessly; left, right and center. Just ask John Cena, Randy Orton and of course, the man whose Wrestlemania streak he broke, The Undertaker. After seeing what Tom Hardy’s Bane did in “The Dark Knight Rises,” we’re looking at Lesnar because of a strength and size that would make even the Batman quake in his boots. Imagine the former UFC athlete fitted with the mask and stuck with Venom tubes. Not that he needs the latter when you look at his frame right now. An aberration of the highest order who invokes fear, if anyone is capable of being the conniving brute that DC deserves on-screen, it’s Lesnar.
12. Moon Knight: Randy Orton
“I hear voices in my head. They council me. They understand. They talk to me.” Orton’s theme song alone is is enough to channel the deranged heroics of the man known as Marc Spector, otherwise known as Moon Knight. Orton’s the perfect, tortured soul we’re looking at to portray the ivory-clad hero who walks the fine line of altruistic and addled. After being saved from death by the Egyptian moon good Khonshu, Spector became the deity’s avatar on Earth, brutally fighting crime in a manner that is brutal, putting him, indeed, as the apex predator of street crime. Often descending into madness, teams such as the Avengers have found use for his abilities as a soldier against evil but the instability and unhinged effect Khonshu has often leaves him a liability. Just like Spector, Randy Orton does not play well with others, and is often liable to snap at a moment’s notice, even when one of his personalities is slightly more altruistic. Orton’s already taken part in sequels to “The Condemned” and “12 Rounds,” so we think he can hold his schizophrenic own as the titular Moon Knight. After all, getting booted from the Marines at age 18 is as good enough application for Khonshu, so why not Orton?
11. Guy Gardner: AJ Styles
Fans of New Japan Pro Wrestling and the indie circuit in general are loving seeing so many of their favorites rock the ring in the WWE and NXT. Styles’ rise to the WWE World Heavyweight Championship is one of those crowning moments; and even though he’s a heel, he’s still treated with the same phenomenal reaction he received when he showed up at the 2016 Royal Rumble. In the Green Lantern Corps, we agree that Hal Jordan is “the face that runs the place,” but Gardner, whether red or green, has shown grit and a lot of determination in getting the job done and grasping that brass (or green) ring for himself. Couple that with arrogance, jealousy and generally brash decisions, and we think Styles represents a lot of what makes Guy so great. Sure, both men are misunderstood at times and have way too big an ego at others, but amid all their rage, condescension and bluster, they both share an unapolagetically iron will that is enough to get the job done. They may also inspire ire, but both AJ and Guy also get their respective corps and clubs pumped, and more often than not lead both to victory.
10. Green Arrow: Seth Rollins
High-flyer? Check. Someone who doesn’t care for authority? Check. Someone who’ll bend the rules for his own advantage? That’s all you, Seth Rollins. You too, Oliver Queen! After dismantling the Shield and climbing his way to the top of the WWE, Seth has become one of the most opinionated yet cavalier superstars the WWE has ever seen. He is bold, daring, ambitious, agile and arguably the most skillful natural athlete in a field populated by supermen and monsters. Ollie’s trajectory follows a similar path and spirit, albeit grounded in a slightly more heroic verve. Seth’s recent face turn, however, shows a tempering similar to Green Arrow‘s own softening acerbic wit and attitude. We’re already seeing Rollins’ courageous side (flawed though it may be) emerge to win back fans and fellow wrestlers, and he has made up as much ground as Oliver in his time beneath the (ahem) lime-light. Even not counting their strikingly similar physical statures, if any superstar could step into Green Arrow’s boots and make his competition truly quiver, it’s definitely Seth Rollins.
9. Cheetah: Charlotte
When it comes to being a heel, you can’t ask for anyone better than the daughter of ring legend Ric Flair. Of course, Charlotte is not one to teeter on the pedestal of legacy, and is more than willing to stomp and spit on her own family to get to the top and hold gold. This manipulative yet assertive superstar has the brains, the brawn and the bang, just like Wonder Woman‘s most fearsome nemesis, Cheetah. Cheetah is a villain who is just as conniving as Charlotte, never holding back on her savage intentions, especially when it comes to eliminating her Amazonian competitors. Of course, neither Cheetah nor Charlotte are above finding a way to win, no matter how nefarious or underhanded. It is that shared attitude that puts them both on the A-list of all-time greats in their respective fields, and what makes them the perfect match. So if you’re aiming to find someone who’s a mental competitor and has the physical stature to match, then Charlotte would fit into the Cheetah role like a clawed glove.
8. Wonder Man: The Miz
Simon Williams has always danced between beloved and bemoaned, even when he’s putting on a heroic face. He’s smug, condescending and a huge diva at the best of times, wanting to hog the spotlight as he overcompensates for attention. No matter how much Marvel has pushed him as a hero, Wonder Man is a guy that will always ruffle your feathers, even when he’s saving the day. It’s that riling nature that makes him such a great character… just like The Miz. Tell us that when Wonder Man is in full-on ionic jerk-mode, he doesn’t reek of Miz-ness! The Miz has come a long way since his MTV reality days as a star on “The Real World,” and for all the bad words we just hurled at him, he works the WWE mic with rare charisma and intensity. More recently in his career, he has also taken on a starring role as one of their best in the ring. As an Avenger and a WWE World Champion respectively, both Wonder Man and The Miz have achieved greatness in their chosen fields; and they each do it with a certain flair for the dramatic.
7. Jason Blood/Etrigan: Finn Balor
Behold the Demon King! Or should we say, the Demon Kings? When it comes to naming the pound-for-pound best performer inside the squared circle, Finn Balor’s name gets tossed around a lot. In fact, he is often associated with some of the best in sports entertainment history. But despite how fluid he is in the ring — like a lick of fiery napalm — it is Balor’s Demon persona that truly makes his character come to life. The same could be said for DC Comics’ Jason Blood, who also hides behind his mild-mannered demeanor a terrifyingly hellish beast. Fused with the demon Etrigan, Jason is a slick sorcerer who knows when to turn up the heat and win the day, just like Balor. They both exude an aura that is as mysterious as it is alluring, making them incredible receptacles to cage a big bad demon. Perhaps nowhere else on this list do our choices so perfectly merge with one another; a deliciously disconcerting thought should they bond for an appearance in an upcoming film!
6. Squirrel Girl: Bayley
WWE and NXT fans have been drawn for a while now to the funk and spunk of the gal they call Bayley. What’s not to love? Her energy and in-ring presence is so endearing and her talent so arresting that she is perhaps the WWE’s most incredible performers. She is quirky yet strong, boisterous yet heroic and more than anyone else we can think of — inside the WWE or not — she would be the perfect Squirrel Girl! Just like Bayley, Doreen Green may not be the first name you call to arms in a bout of fisticuffs, but when stuff goes down, you will be pleasantly surprised that she’s there fighting the good fight. These two are both powered by inner positivity and a boundless will to win that has seen them overcome even the fiercest odds. Both Squirrel Girl and Bayley started their careers as underdogs, smiling all the way as they became something more than themselves and garnered fiercely loyal followings. Having both been recently called up the the big-leagues — Doreen as an Avenger and Bayley as a WWE superstar — this be a truly positive pairing on screen.
5. Maestro: Bray Wyatt
The eater of worlds, he calls himself; the one who haunts dreams and evokes fear. Galactus and The Scarecrow, respectively, came to mind when designating a character for Bray, but when all’s said and done, the leader of the Wyatt family simply wants the whole world in his hands. That’s where Maestro comes in. He’s a version of the Hulk from an alternate future that possesses Bruce Banner’s intelligence and the Hulk’s more malevolent personality traits. If you’re looking for a genius manipulator with the power to break worlds, Maestro is the template. What we love about this pick is that Maestro tries to appeal to your emotions and a sense of empathy as opposed to just going for the jugular. What better pick for these kinds of theatrics than Bray? If you’re a fan who loves “following the buzzards,” then rest assured, as a man who always has a plan, Bray is exactly what the Doctor (Banner) ordered in an on-screen adaptation.
4. The Spectre: The Undertaker
Murdered detective Jim Corrigan returned from the afterlife with an entity attached to him; one who rattles the scales of justice with a vengeful skeletal fist and near-infinite otherworldly power. The Spectre, as it came to be known, is one of the most powerful enigmas in DC Comics. Tied to a similarly dark and supernatural sensibility is the perfect complement to the Spectre’s ghostly vengeance: the Dead Man of the WWE, The Undertaker. Having dragged many a soul to hell and back, Undertaker is revered as the biggest phenom in the history of the company. If you want The Spectre to be done right, then you need to attach him to someone who has already walked the bowels of hades and lavished his enemies in hellfire, brimstone and piledrivers. In his prime, ‘Taker was a major force to be reckoned with and remains ready to go the full mile to exact pain on his enemies today. In this and in their intimidatingly ghoulish appearances, we think The Spectre and The Undertaker are truly kindred spirits and would make for a striking on-screen phenomenon.
3. Black Cat: Sasha Banks
What do Sasha Banks and Felicia Hardy have in common, apart from their shared ability to rock black leather? In a word: attitude. Both women skim the tight rope between hero and heel; a good mixture that often means bad luck for any who dare oppose them. In the Black Cat‘s case, you just have to ask Peter Parker, who is trapped time and time again as the Cat builds her empire through raw talent and unapologetic underhandedness. Sasha Banks has made a similar statement since her introduction to the WWE; a badass Boss who has clawed her way to the top and deserves every bit of the gold she’s earned. Like Felicia is in the Marvel Universe, Banks is one of the strongest performers in the ring, with a presence that is as arresting as it is intimidating. As a woman who has already made being bad look good, Sasha wouldn’t just set the bar as Black Cat… she would break the bank.
2. Grey Hulk: Kevin Owens
Whether you call him the Hulk, Mr. Fixit or just Joe, the Grey Hulk is one of the more intellectual personas in Bruce Banner’s subconscious; and definitely one of his most vicious. Superior to most others in strength and more calculating than savage, this version of the Hulk became a morally ambiguous enforcer and Vegas tough guy who knew exactly how to push his opponents’ buttons to his advantage. Many Marvel fans came to think of this iteration as a big bully, a description that fits him as well as one of his well-tailored suits. In the WWE universe, there is no better person who exemplifies Fixit’s acerbic wit, ruthless aggression and sheer brute power than Kevin Owens. Like Joe, “KO” is a bullying bruiser, with a dark charisma that has made him a lasting fan favorite, even when he’s being his universe’s biggest jerk. Owens is also light on his feet for someone his size, dangerously conniving and knows how to innovate violence in a way that has taken him to multiple big wins. With his beady eyes peering through a gruesome, gamma-given pallor, Kevin Owens wouldn’t just crush the role of Grey Hulk. He’d smash it.
1. The Warriors Three: The New Day
We’re going on record here as saying that, as much as we love what Marvel Studios has done with the three Asgardian warriors known as The Warriors Three, if Thor had Big E, Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods as his allies, well… his heroism would be all the more booty-ful. Comic relief? They’ve got you covered. Ready to kick ass in the ring? They’ve got that as well. But don’t mistake their candor and levity for weakness; these are three bad men, just like their comic book counterparts. Xavier’s cavalier swagger makes him a perfect fit for Fandral, while Kofi’s keen focus and athleticism would make for an incredible Hogun. To cap it off, Big E’s big-time mass and lovable sass make him the ideal choice for Volstagg. Of the entire list so far, this is the one that makes the most sense to us. Having these three majestic mystical creatures (they are unicorns, after all) step into the boots of Asgard’s most triumphant mythical trio is what you call a match made in heaven… or Valhalla, as the case may be.
Which WWE superstars would you cast as superheroes or villains? Let us know in the comments!
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