There is a life after pro wrestling. And for some performers, a pretty successful one at that. Many WWE champions have gone on to shine on the big screen, while others have made a name for themselves in other sports. So, let’s take a look at 5 pro wrestlers who effectively turned their careers around.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

The Rock is not the first WWE champion to pursue an acting career. Long before he made it to the silver screen, the likes of Hulk Hogan and Jesse Ventura had paved the way. Yet, Dwayne Johnson outshone his illustrious predecessors to become a Hollywood household name.

It was no walk in the park, though, as Johnson’s first acting bits in The Mummy Returns and The Scorpion King spin-off made little impact. It took the iconic wrestler another ten years to land a breakthrough role in the seventh installment of the Fast and Furious franchise.

Since then, The Rock has successfully acted in and produced dozens of top-grossing blockbusters like Jumanji and Rampage, earning the right to be called the best wrestler turned actor.

Dave Bautista

Dave Bautista quickly grew into one of the most prolific WWE champions out there. A six-time world champion under the ring name Batista, he stepped out of the ring in 2010. The same year, Bautista appeared in the movie Wrong Side of Town. And despite his acting chops needing some polishing, Bautista “caught the bug” there and then.

The WWE champion subsequently guest-starred in several TV shows, including CW’s Smallville. But 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy definitely established him as an actor. While his physicality often played out on screen, Bautista surprised movie-goers and critics with his range.

His career took an increasingly prestigious turn as he acted under such visionary filmmakers as Denis Villeneuve and Zack Snyder. In yet another bold move, Bautista joined the cast of an M Night Shyamalan horror movie to hit theaters in 2023.

Dan Severn

Jumping from pro wrestling to pro MMA fighting may not seem much of a stretch. But it took one man to show the way and pave the road for his successors. Dan Severn is considered the first world-class performer to compete in the UFC.

Known to WWE fans as The Beast, Severn started pro wrestling in 1992 and entered the UFC two years later. The Beast would eventually be increasingly recognized as a fighter rather than a performer, claiming 101 wins in 124 matches.

Still, Severn managed to stay on top of the game in both the WWE and the UFC. An elite member of the UFC Hall of Fame, he continued wrestling well into his 50s.

Brock Lesnar

The American-Canadian performer has changed careers more times than one can count. Brock Lesnar made waves early as he set the record for the youngest wrestler to claim the WWE Championship.

Much to fans’ disappointment, however, Lesnar turned to football in 2004. He came close to achieving his long-time NFL dream with the Minnesota Vikings until a motorcycle accident and an opting out of the NFL Europa tour put an end to it all.

Lesnar then transitioned to MMA. Defeating Hall of Famer Randy Couture, he won the Heavyweight Title at UFC 91. A string of health issues pushed him toward premature retirement, which led in turn to even more blockbuster comebacks, including a much-anticipated return at the next WWE Crown Jewel in Saudi Arabia.

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Debra Miceli

Initially known as Madusa in wrestling circles, Debra Miceli started wrestling in the 1980s within the independent circuit. The Italian-born performer gradually built up her career before she joined the WWF in 1993.

Making the switch to the ring name Alundra Blayze, the three-time WWF Women’s champion became a Hall of Famer in 2015. A pioneer in women’s wrestling, Miceli eventually made her way to another male-dominated sport.

In 2000, she made her monster-truck driving debut. Four years later, Miceli proved a trailblazer still as she became the first female driver to claim the Monster Jam World Finals 5 Freestyle Championship.