The Best Wrestling Movies of All Time

Wrestling movies are an admittedly niche variety of film, the genre having only a handful of truly remarkable entries in its entirety. However, it’s worth noting just how many of these few movies are utterly fantastic in their own right, as seen with critically praised movies like The Wrestler, The Peanut Butter Falcon, or Fighting with My Family.

From stirring dramas based on true stories from the industry to documentaries detailing the hardships many wrestlers face in the course of their career, here are some of the greatest wrestling movies of all time, ranked from best to worst.

The Wrestler

Mickey Rourke The Wrestler
Image Credit: Searchlight Pictures.

Facing serious health issues, a washed-up pro wrestler who hit his peak in the ‘80s (Mickey Rourke) decides to hang up his boots, using the opportunity to reconnect with his estranged daughter (Evan Rachel Wood).

Easily the greatest wrestling movie to date, The Wrestler presents the professional industry in its most straightforward, unromanticized form. An ideal follow-up to the similarly haunting Beyond the Mat (see below), Darren Aronofsky underscores the grim reality so many former wrestlers have to face as they get older. Burdened with financial issues, worsening health, estranged relationships, yet still maintaining a desire to compete, these once-iconic performers search for meaning in their lives in the only place they’re familiar with: inside the ring.

The Peanut Butter Falcon

The Peanut Butter Falcon Shia LaBeouf
Image Credit: Roadside Attractions and Armory Films.

Hoping to pursue his dream of becoming a professional wrestler, a young man with Downs syndrome (Zack Gottsagen) escapes from an assisted living facility, going on the run with the help of a recently unemployed fisherman (Shia LaBeouf).

A contemporary take on The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Peanut Butter Falcon may only marginally deal with wrestling, but its emotional story and the meaningful bond that forms between its two main characters make the film a crowd-pleasing comedy drama.

Fighting with my Family

Florence Pugh Movie

Trained to become a professional wrestler since she was a child, aspiring wrestler Paige (Florence Pugh) is granted the opportunity of a lifetime when she signs with the WWE.

In the mid 2010s, Paige was looked upon as the single best female performer on WWE’s roster. Experiencing a meteoric rise to the top of the company, her momentous time in WWE was cut short after a serious neck injury in 2017, forcing her to retire at the age of 25 (although she’s since returned to the ring in AEW). Dramatizing Paige’s background and initial training period, Fighting with my Family is an excellent biographical film focused on Paige’s earliest days in the company, complete with some excellent performances from Pugh, Vince Vaughn, and Dwayne Johnson.

Beyond the Mat

Beyond the Mat
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

A number of documentaries have been released over the years examining the world of pro wrestling. For as many films have come out, though, the most fascinating (and downright depressing) among them has to be 1999’s Beyond the Mat.

Split into three sections, Beyond the Mat follows the lives of three prominent wrestlers (Mick Foley, Terry Funk, and Jake Roberts) who have dedicated their lives to pro wrestling, at the cost of their physical and mental health. Confronted with repeated injuries, strained relationships with family members, and an almost unhealthy addiction to competing, it’s a sobering reminder of just how dangerous wrestling can be for an otherwise “staged” sport.


Steve Carell in Foxcatcher
Photo Credit: Sony Pictures Classics.

In the late 1980s, Olympic wrestlers Mark (Channing Tatum) and his brother David Schultz (Mark Ruffalo) join the prestigious Team Foxcatcher, run by the enigmatic (and possibly dangerous) multi-millionaire, John du Pont (Steve Carrell).

While not a movie steeped in professional wrestling in the same way as The Wrestler or Fighting with my Family, Foxcatcher is nevertheless an excellent sports drama that presents the unique case of du Pont and his relationship with the Schultz brothers. As you might expect judging from the cast listing, the acting in the film is utterly phenomenal, with Carrell single-handedly reinventing his career as a dramatic actor after years of being typecast as a lovable comedic oaf.

André the Giant

Andre the Giant
Image Credit: HBO

Even if you’ve never seen a single pro wrestling match, you’re sure to know the name André the Giant. Between his impressive height, his wrestling career, his legendary eating and drinking habits, and his crowd-pleasing roles in prominent films like The Princess Bride, André without a doubt remains among the most well-known wrestlers of his generation.

Examining André’s life, his struggles with gigantism, and both his professional wrestling and acting careers, André the Giant is a splendidly well-done documentary that does a judicious job exploring André’s larger-than-life influence, especially in terms of his famously warm personality.

The Resurrection of Jake the Snake

The Resurrection of Jake the Snake
Image Credit: Slamdance Presents.

For those who don’t know, Jake “the Snake” Roberts was one of the most instantly recognizable wrestlers of the 1980s. Known for speaking in a hushed Southern voice, quoting philosophers and scholars in his promos, and bringing snakes down to the ring to distract his opponents, Roberts was among the most popular wrestlers of his era.

Unfortunately, like so many wrestlers of his day, Roberts’ career was marred by severe personal issues, including repeated instances of substance abuse that nearly cost him his life. Ultimately seeking help for these issues, Roberts made a miraculous recovery, beating his addiction and improving his overall health with the help of his close friend/former wrestler, Diamond Dallas Page.

Roberts’ transformation forms the basis for the 2015 documentary, The Resurrection of Jake the Snake. In addition to examining Roberts’ undeniable influence in the industry, it’s also the inspirational journey of a man who went from crippling addiction to being inducted into WWE’s Hall of Fame within the span of two years.

Nacho Libre

Jack Black in Nacho Libre (2006)
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Mistreated by everyone around him, the chef of a Mexican monastery (Jack Black) pursues a career as a masked professional wrestler, assuming the luchador identity of “Nacho.”

As with most comedians and their work, you either love Jack Black, are indifferent towards him, or downright can’t stand him. If you’re a fan, you’ll likely enjoy his hilarious antics in Nacho Libre, a fairly decent movie made all the better by Black’s charismatic lead performance as monk-turned-luchador, Ignacio.

Paradise Alley

Sylvester Stallone and Armand Assante in Paradise Alley (1978).
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Looking to escape their impoverished upbringing in 1940s New York, three brothers (Sylvester Stallone, Lee Canalito, and Armand Assante) try to break into the wrestling industry.

Two years after his breakthrough Rocky won over audience members’ hearts, Sylvester Stallone turned his attention away from the sport of professional boxing to take on pro wrestling. Writing, starring in, and making his directorial debut with Paradise Alley, it’s an overall decent film that has plenty of flaws, but more than a few avid fans (including none other than Quentin Tarantino, who writes about it extensively in his new book, Cinema Speculation).

Kayfabe: A Fake Real Movie About A Fake Real Sport

Kayfabe (2007)
Image Credit: Kayfabe Entertainment.

With their indie promotion set to close, a group of professional wrestlers do their best to wow the crowd, giving it their all in the hopes of making it to more prominent wrestling promotions.

A better than average indie film, Kayfabe: A Fake Real Movie About A Fake Real Sport is a humorous mockumentary that does for pro wrestling what This Is Spinal Tap did for hard rock and metal music. Portraying the daily lives of average wrestlers – each with their own distinct, colorful characters – it’s a generally amusing movie centered around the indie wrestling circuit and the struggle to gain more recognition in the business.

Ready to Rumble

David Arquette and Scott Caan in Ready to Rumble (2000).
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

Witnessing their favorite wrestler (Oliver Platt) get cheated out of his world title by WCW wrestlers Diamond Dallas Page and his promoter (Joe Pantoliano), two absent-minded best friends (David Arquette and Scott Caan) set out to help their idol win back his championship.

Perhaps the best reason to watch Ready to Rumble has to be the number of wrestling personalities featured in main or supporting roles in the film. With DDP as the main antagonist and appearances from Goldberg, Sting, Booker T, and Randy Savage, it’s a who’s who of WCW talent back when the company was at its peak – more than making up for the movie’s weak jokes and thin plot.

No Holds Barred

Tom Lister Jr. in No Holds Barred (1989).
Image Credit:New Line Cinema.

Facing pressure from an unscrupulous TV executive (Kurt Fuller), WWF Heavyweight Champion Rip Thomas (Hulk Hogan) is booked in a match against an enigmatic new wrestler known as Zeus (Tiny Lister).

One of the most infamously atrocious wrestling movies there is, No Holds Barred veers more towards the “it’s-so-bad-it’s-actually-kind-of-good” genre of film. A poorly-acted, over-the-top, cartoonish mess made when wrestling was still dedicated to kayfabe (the belief that the sport wasn’t staged), it’s a car wreck of a movie that you can’t look away from, even if you wanted to.

Richard Chachowski is a freelance writer based in New Jersey. He loves reading, his dog Tootsie, and pretty much every movie to ever exist (especially Star Wars).