While it is becoming commonplace for wrestlers to leap from the squared circle to the silver screen these days, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is the man responsible for creating the blueprint. Wrestlers before him like Hulk Hogan and Roddy Piper had brief big screen stints, but The Rock stands as the first to successfully sustain a Hollywood career. After dedicating the 2000s to smaller productions like The Scorpion King and Tooth Fairy, The Rock began to boom following roles in blockbuster action franchises like G.I. Joe and Fast & Furious. Since then, fellow wrestlers like Batista and John Cena have transitioned into the film industry, finding immediate success within the worlds of Marvel and DC.
Even though Rock carved out the path, it is far from guaranteed success. Cena himself revealed that The Rock helped guide him in the right direction upon one of his earliest big roles.
"He is one of the reasons I have life outside the WWE. He gave me some of the best advice I've ever been given. I remember I got an audition for a small part in a movie called Trainwreck," Cena said during Comic-Con Wales. "There was a pretty thorough audition process, and I was very nervous. Because I've never been through that before."
Cena was cast in Trainwreck in March 2014, in the middle of one of his final full-time years in WWE. Considering he was still wrestling on a weekly basis, this was a massive part for Cena, as he had yet to put all his chips in his Hollywood career.
Those nerves were immediately calmed by The Rock, who emphasized that all the 16-time world champion had to do was be exactly who everyone already knows him as.
"I was able to ask him, 'Hey man, do you have any advice?' He said, 'They asked you there for a reason dude, just be yourself,'" Cena revealed. "He, in that one sentence, allowed me to calm down. Allowed me to be myself, which I'm really a goofball. And they allowed me to do that on screen. Naked. He's the reason I'm here."
Since the July 2015 release of Trainwreck, Cena's cinematic stock has skyrocketed. Big Match John has had starring roles in the Transformers franchise, played a superhero in The Suicide Squad, received a subsequent spin-off series, and joined the Fast & Furious family. Cena currently has five films in development, and Peacemaker Season 2 is set for a 2023 production.