Here’s something no one could have predicted back in the 1980s: Two part-time professional wrestlers have movies simultaneously in the Top 5 at the Box Office.
And guess who’s at the top? It’s not The Rock. Former WWE Champion Dave Bautista stars in Guardians of the Galaxy, the No. 1 movie in America. At No. 4 is The Rock, or Dwyane Johnson, in Hercules.
America has come a long way since Hulk Hogan starred in Mr. Nanny. Many wrestlers have starred in movies. Many of them have performed well. “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, Jesse “The Body” Ventura and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin have done a tremendous job in mainstream movies, long before The Rock because a big-time movie star.
But forget The Rock, at least for this moment. This is Bautista’s moment to shine. It’s easy to root for a guy like Bautista, who was widely shunned in his return to the WWE early this year, and boo The Rock, a guy who rose to fame for insulting people in the WWE. And while it is possible that Guardians of the Galaxy may be Bautista’s only big moment at the Box Office, let’s hope it’s not.
In fact there are many reasons professional wrestling fans, and mainstream movie goers, may want to cheer for Bautista instead of The Rock. Here are 5 reasons why Bautista is a lot cooler, tougher and more genuine than The Rock.
5. Bautista Worked Harder For His Success
Yes, The Rock is funny. He’s cracked some hilarious jokes over the years at the expense of guys like John Cena, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and CM Punk. But the truth is he was handed WWE success on silver platter. His father, Rocky Johnson, and his grandfather, Peter Maivia, were big-time WWE stars. The Rock certainly had the charisma to make it on his own, but having those guys as his relatives ensured that no matter how many times he failed, the WWE would still find a spot of him. It’s too bad guys such as Dolph Ziggler, Kofi Kingston and Shelton Benjamin didn’t have legacy to give the big-time pushes because those guys can actually work. Bautista on the other hand rose to stardom as WWE champion largely because he worked hard for it and performed perfectly in a legendary feud with Triple H. Bautista was so good in that role, he supplanted Randy Orton, who was originally supposed to wrestle Triple H at WrestleMania 21.
Bautista was 31 years old when he started wrestling. He still made it big, and no one rolled out the red carpet for him.
4. Bautista’s WWE Character Isn’t Homophobic
Say what you want about the Rock’s humor, but he has made an awful lot of homophobic jobs on live TV. He’s made a living insinuating John Cena is gay, calling him everything from a Teletubby to asking the crowd to shout “Fruity Pebbles,” at Cena. He frequently talks about Cena’s “lady parts.” The Rock on WWE television is 100 percent frat boy who enjoys teasing, taunting and bullying his opponents for a cheap laugh. The Rock is probably not homophobic in real life; one of his mentors is Pat Patterson, the openly gay WWE former wrestler, but still when the Rock makes gay jokes on WWE television he gives a license to kids to do the same on the playground, which is absolutely not cool.
Bautista, however, is just brooding and all business. His character is less dimensional than The Rock’s, but at least he’s not making crude jokes for cheap laughs.
3. Bautista Is The Underdog
The truth is when Bautista debuted in the WWE he was envisioned by some as nothing more than a big bodyguard-type. No one expected him to become one of the sport’s most popular stars and break PPV records as a headliner at WrestleMania 21. That spot was supposed to be for Randy Orton, but the crowd reacted to Bautista and, much like what happened with Daniel Bryan, the WWE changed plans and Bautista in the main event. Bautista is a Filipino-American who rose from poverty to become a millionaire. Now to be fair Bautista has a reputation for being kind of a stick-to-himself kind of guy, even aloof at times, but his rise from almost nothing to six-time world heavyweight champion and star of a No. 1 Hollywood movie is remarkable.
2. Bautista Had The Guts To Enter The Cage
Bautista is 1-0 in MMA, which is one more MMA fight than The Rock has. Sure Bautista gassed like Butterbean in his sole MMA fight, and he beat a guy who looked like he needed another six weeks of camp to get into fight shape, but it was still a real fight nonetheless. Bautista showed guts and courage and hunger to step inside the cage. He could have been knocked out and forever embarrassed when he tried to go back to professional wrestling. We will Never, Ever see The Rock in an MMA fight. Bautista should probably never fight in MMA again because it’s a hard sport to master in your 40s, but we know he can do it, and he’s not afraid to leave it all inside the cage.
1. Bautista Knows What’s Right For WWE Business
Bautista returned earlier this year to the WWE and the plans were for him to win the title at WrestleMania. But Daniel Bryan got in the way. Bryan was hot with the WWE Universe and Bautista was not. It wasn’t so much that the fans rejected Bautista, it was that the fans badly wanted Bryan to win the WWE title and anyone else wasn’t good enough. Bautista signed a contract to return and headline WrestleMania, but it was quickly clear that the fans didn’t want him in the spot at that time. So Bautista entered WrestleMania in a triple threat match against Randy Orton and Daniel Bryan. Bautista could have grumbled and walked out, but instead he did what was right for business and let Bryan have the spotlight and the WWE fans were happy. Compare that to the year prior when The Rock returned to the WWE and ended CM Punk’s 434-day title reign as champion. As a part-time wrestler, The Rock decided that it was believable for him to beat the greatest worker in the business at the time for the championship. Clearly the WWE brass also wanted The Rock to win, but what was stopping The Rock from saying, “This isn’t right. I don’t need to beat Punk because Punk deserves to headline WrestleMania. I can wrestle John Cena in a rematch, but I don’t need the championship belt to do it.”
Instead The Rock defeated CM Punk, then went on to lose to Cena, while Punk lost to The Undertaker. The Rock is undoubtedly headed to the WWE Hall of Fame, as is Bautista, but it’s a good time to cheer for Bautista’s movie success, to serve The Rock a bit of humble pie.