Movies and series about wrestling, whether it be professional or amateur, are few and far between. Even during the glory days when the WWE was the WWF and the WCW was the wrestling promotion challenging the WWF for television bucks and dominance, not many films about wrestling were produced. There have been some, though, and some have made a lasting impression.
We have cobbled together a list of the best wrestling films. Some are silly (and why not), some tell stories about amateur wrestling, and some tell horrific true stories. Take a look at our list and tell us your favorite wrestling movie.
Best Movies About Wrestling
Body Slam (1986)
Body Slam is one of the oldest films on our list and one that suffered at the box office because it never received a theatrical release, instead going direct-to-video.
It stars Dirk Benedict as M. Harry Smilac, a one-time successful music promoter. Looking for a way to make a buck to pay his ever-mounting bills, Harry somehow becomes a wrestling manager, gaining success by promoting wrestling alongside rock and roll music.
The film also stars then-wrestling superstars Rowdy Roddy Piper, Sam Fatu, Captain Lou Albano, Ric Flair, and Bruno Sammartino. It also starred non-wrestlers Tanya Roberts and Kellie Martin.
Ready to Rumble (2000)
Some say this film was the nail in the coffin for the wrestling promotion, WCW, but we say that there was no saving the WCW at that time. Be that as it may, Ready to Rumble is actually a fun film starring Scott Caan and David Arquette as two sanitation workers who are on a quest to rehabilitate their favorite wrestler, Jimmy King.
King has fallen into mass depression, turning to the bottle as his answer. The boys must first get Jimmy sober, then back in the ring, and then the top of the WCW. This film brought Arquette recognition inside the WCW ring as he somehow became the WCW World Champion. As we said, there was no saving the WCW.
The Peanut Butter Falcon (2019)
The Peanut Butter Falcon is a heartwarming comedy about a young man with Down syndrome who aspires to be a professional wrestler. Zack Gottsagen is Zak, a young man who escapes from a state-run care facility in an attempt to train with his hero, the Salt Water Redneck (Thomas Hayden Church).
Along the way, Zak meets up with Tyler (Shia LaBeouf), another man on the run. Together they track down the Salt Water Redneck and Zak begins his journey as a wrestler.
The movie also stars Dakota Johnson as the social worker searching for Zak, Jon Bernthal, Bruce Dern, and former professional wrestlers Jake “The Snake” Roberts and Mick Foley.
No Holds Barred (1989)
It has to be said – No Holds Barred is not a great movie by any stretch of the imagination, but it holds our number seven slot for one big (24-inch pythons big) reason – Hulk Hogan.
The story is simple enough, Hogan stars as Rip Thomas, the big-talking, big-walking professional wrestler whose rival wrestling promotions would love to have. After Rip rebuffs the advances of a rival network chief, Tom Brell (Kurt Fuller), Brell decides to get even.
When his first attempt fails, Brell decides to get at Thomas through intimidation and sets up a Battle of the Tough Guys where Rip must fight Zeus, a hulk of an ex-con. It’s not award-winning, but it is fun and is Hulk Hogan’s first starring role after he cameoed 7 years prior in Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky III.
Nacho Libre (2006)
What Jack Black did for rock in School of Rock, he does for lucha libre in Nacho Libre, a wrestling movie with heart and smiles. The film is based loosely on real-life Mexican Catholic priest, Sergio Gutiérrez Benítez, who wrestled for 23 years to help feed the children in his orphanage.
Black is Ignacio, a young monastery cook who is searching for ways to earn extra money to get better food for the kids at the orphanage. He comes up with the idea of wrestling, but the monastery forbids it as it is considered to be a sin of vanity.
But Ignacio feels it is his duty and calling, so he enlists the help of a street thief and the pair begin their moonlighting careers. Héctor Jiménez plays Nacho’s partner-in-crime, Esqueleto while Ana de la Reguera is Sister Encarnación.
Beyond the Mat (1999)
If you are looking for reality in the “professional” sporting world of wrestling, it doesn’t get any more real than Beyond the Mat. The documentary was made by Barry Blaustein, a self-professed huge wrestling fan, that focuses on the lives of three wrestlers at various stages of their careers.
Terry Funk, who is nearing retirement, Mick Foley, who is at the height of his popularity, and Jake Roberts who has fallen into the nightmare of being a crack cocaine addict.
Blaustein presents a fascinating look at the dark underbelly of wrestling fame and fortune and the sacrifices made by each wrestler. Give this one a look.
Fighting with My Family (2019)
Fighting with My Family tells the true (mostly) story of Paige, the WWE wrestler, and her rise to wrestling fame. Florence Pugh brilliantly plays Paige, whose real name is Saraya Bevis, a young woman who comes from a wrestling family and who is destined for big things.
Saraya and her brother Zak get a chance to try out for the WWE before an event at the O2 Arena in London, where Saraya adopts her wrestling name of Paige. She makes the cut, getting a chance to go to America to train for the WWE while her brother doesn’t get chosen.
The story then follows Paige as she struggles early on before finally making it big in the WWE. Lena Headey, Nick Frost, Vince Vaughn, and The Rock himself, Dwayne Johnson, also star.
Vision Quest (1985)
Vision Quest is the oldest movie of the bunch and one of the best on the list. It stars Mattew Modine as Louden Swain, a high school wrestler whose goal as a senior is to drop two weight classes so he can defeat the undefeated Brian Shute, a wrestler with impeccable skills.
Standing in Louden’s way is the drastic weight cut and Carla (Linda Fiorentino), an older woman who is a boarder at Louden’s home.
Steve Carell is brilliant as John du Pont, the billionaire heir to the du Pont family fortune, and the man responsible for Foxcatcher Farms, a place where wrestlers vying for the U.S. Olympic team could train.
He was also the man who shot and killed Olympic medalist Dave Schultz. The film follows wrestling enthusiast du Pont as he uses his fortune to ensure the U.S. team has the best training they could get. The film focuses on the Schultz brothers, Mark (Channing Tatum) and Dave (Mark Ruffalo), and their sometimes strained relationship with du Pont.
As time goes on, du Pont begins to exhibit increasingly strange behavior, culminating in his visit to Dave’s home, where he shoots Dave in the driveway.
The Wrestler (2008)
Mickey Rourke’s career has been filled with numerous off-screen troubles and on-screen questionable choices, but the one thing we can all agree on is that his performance in The Wrestler is probably the finest piece of work he’s done.
Rourke stars in this Darrin Aronofsky film as Randy “The Ram” Robinson, a now past-his-prime wrestler who is trying to hold on to his success from years prior. Randy’s health has become an issue and fame isn’t what it used to be.
Steroid use is Randy’s answer to looking fit, but when he suffers a heart attack after a hardcore match, Randy is forced to take stock in his life. This means mending fences with his estranged daughter and having a relationship with an aging stripper.
Evan Rachel Wood is Randy’s daughter while Marisa Tomei plays the aging stripper Candy.