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Don’t Call Yourself A True Wrestling Fan If You Haven’t Seen These 10 Movies

From cult classics to mainstream hits, Hollywood's always had a thing for professional wrestling

By Chris Phelan
Fighting With My Family screenshot

With the holiday season quickly approaching, nothing is better than getting in some quality movie-watching with family and friends — especially if you throw on a classic pro wrestling film! (It’s true; forget predictable Hallmark offerings and classic Christmas flicks, wrestling movies are where it’s at!)

Faithful readers of USA Insider have noticed us giving major buzz to the new Zac Efron film “The Iron Claw,” currently slated for a 2023 release, is set to tell the tale of the life and times of the legendary Von Erich wrestling family. Kevin Von Erich himself has gone on the record praising the work Efron has put in – which is absolutely great news seeing as how Efron is playing him in the film! That being said, we’re sure “The Iron Claw” will stake its claim as one of the all-time best wrestling movies ever made in due time, but for now it got us thinking: Just what are the best wrestling flicks ever? So we sat down, figured it out, and we think we nailed it.

In no particular order, here are the top 10 absolutely must-watch wrestling movies that every true fan should see at least once:

Fighting With My Family

Inspired by the true story of former WWE Superstar Paige, who wrestled for the company from 2011 to 2017, this movie is a story of fighting for your dreams — even if all odds are against you, family included. Paige overcame a lot of obstacles in her path to WWE stardom, and “Fighting With My Family” pulls no punches in this regard — pun intended.

Current members of the WWE Universe will appreciate The Rock and Zelina Vega appearing in guest-starring roles that help make this movie an easy “watch it with the family during the holidays” type of film.

The Wrestler

Until “The Wrestler” burst onto the scene in 2008, movies based on pro wrestling were more cartoony, lacking a certain seriousness. Well, thanks to this movie that all changed. Not only is this film credited for re-launching the career of Mickey Rourke, but it also served as a heartbreaking tale of tragedy and honesty that works as a character study, not just as a wrestling film.

Playing the role of an aging veteran valiantly clawing at any shot of relevancy after a fall from grace, Rourke portrays the titular character with a laser-focused vision that inspires viewers. What else is there to say about this movie? It was nominated for many awards and is at the top of many people’s “best ever” list, despite the fact that it’s a wrestling movie.

The Peanut Butter Falcon

The story of someone’s wrestling fandom can be an incredibly fascinating part of a larger picture, and this movie hits all those notes with perfection. It follows the story of Zak, a man with Down Syndrome who escapes his assisted-living facility and befriends a man who helps him in his journey to join a wrestling academy and fulfill his lifelong dream. This comedy/drama hybrid was released in 2019 and most notably stars Shia LeBeouf as Tyler, the man who Zak meets after his escape.

Call it sentimental, call it uplifting, call it the ultimate “indy movie” — it’s a great, thoughtful film that turned a lot of heads when it was released.

Rumble

It’s a computer-animated comedy with monster wrestlers. Need we say more? What if we told you that Will Arnett voices one of the lead characters? (If there’s anything life has taught us, it’s that Will Arnett was born to do voiceover work.) And if that doesn't do it for you, how about the guest starring roles for Roman Reigns and Becky Lynch?

At any rate, “Rumble” is a quintessential family-viewing experience. It’s a fun and smart film with Disney/Pixar-esque jokes that go right over the heads of the kids watching it, leaving mom and dad to exchange knowing glances at each other. It’s the opposite of “The Wrestler” in nearly every way imaginable, and we mean that as a compliment to both films!

Nacho Libre

Let’s be real, this is a straight-up classic comedy that happens to have a wrestling-themed storyline — and it’s fantastic.

Jack Black stars in this cult classic released in 2006, which sees him ditch the life of a monk in order to pursue his true calling as a Mexican luchador. The film is funny and off-beat, drawing comparisons at the time to the sleeper hit “Napoleon Dynamite” and is filled with some of the best quotable lines ever. What wrestling fan hasn’t yelled “we never win because you are fat!” at their best friend? If you haven’t already, do yourself a favor and watch “Nacho Libre” — it’s well worth it.

No Holds Barred

If you want to watch a snapshot that perfectly encapsulates garish 1980s WWE, then “No Holds Barred” needs to be at the top of your list. Starring Hulk Hogan during the absolute bonkers-peak of Hulkamania in the United States, this movie is the result of capturing the cultural zeitgeist at the perfect time.

Hulk Hogan essentially plays himself as the man trying to climb to the top of the WWE mountain, and if you don’t think this movie builds up to one gigantic climactic match by the end, well ... you don’t know wrestling at all. Any baby of the '80s owes it to themself to watch this movie — if only for the nonstop cameos by some of your all-time favorite Superstars.

Ready To Rumble

A wrestling movie starring David Arquette, Scott Caan, and Rose McGowan? Guest appearances by Superstars such as Sting, Goldberg, and Diamond Dallas Page? Is this the ultimate wrestling movie?

Well, yes and no. It’s a classic 2000-era slacker comedy full of dumb jokes and a barely-there plotline. But there are some bright moments, and it’s always good seeing your favorite wrestlers on the big screen interacting with some of the biggest up-and-coming stars of Hollywood! It’s so bad, it’s good — and that’s why it’s on this list. They don’t all have to be award-winning to be entertaining, right?

Hitman Hart: Wrestling With Shadows

This fascinating documentary is required viewing for any member of the WWE Universe who watched in the '90s and preferred Bret Hart over Shawn Michaels. Released in 1998 and composed of footage that followed Bret Hart throughout most of 1997, it is an unforgettable inside look at “The Hitman," with a heavy focus on the events that transpired on that one fateful night in Montreal! (Yes, the documentary cameras were rolling backstage even on that night.)

It is the definitive Bret Hart documentary, and a love letter of sorts to “the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be.”

Queens Of The Ring

Once you get used to the fact that this movie is French and subtitled, you’re going to be treated with an uplifting story of a mom who gets into the pro wrestling business as a means to be a better mother to her son. And there are plenty of laughs along the way too, which definitely makes it an easy thumbs-up for watching around the fire this holiday season. Released in 2013, the movie hits on all cylinders — yes, even the cameo that The Miz makes! (Sorry/not sorry, Miz.)

Beyond The Mat

As demonstrated by films such as “The Wrestler,” sometimes the world of professional wrestling can be blunt and raw, and this documentary was the first to open the eyes of fans who only knew wrestling as it is portrayed on television.

Released in 1999 at the height of the Attitude Era, this documentary focused on three separate stories: One followed up-and-coming independent wrestlers trying to catch their big break, one followed WWE legend Jake “The Snake” Roberts as he dealt with his addiction, and one followed Mick Foley navigating his way through his WWE career. All three parts of the documentary come together for an incredibly honest film — although be warned, the subject matter, much like “The Wrestler,” is as far away from the glitz and glamor of how professional wrestling is presented in the present day. Nevertheless, it’s a must-watch film for any fan.

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