World Wrestling Entertainment, better known as WWE, is the top name in professional wrestling and sports entertainment. The company earns the E in their name not only with jaw dropping matches but charismatic stars, some of who have even transitioned into acting and become big time names in Hollywood. John Cena has proven to be a great comedian. Dave Bautista gets rave reviews for his work in both the Guardians of the Galaxy films and Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery. Then there’s Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who, despite the mixed response to Black Adam, is the biggest star on the planet.

The E doesn’t only stand for entertaining matches and wrestlers though. WWE has aimed bigger than simply being just a professional wrestling company. Since 2002, they’ve even had their own film company, called WWE Studios. They’ve put out some duds over the years, but a lot of well received films as well. Some were box office leaders, and a few even helped to launch the careers of Hollywood’s biggest successes. Here’s eleven of WWE Studios best releases over the last two decades.

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The Scorpion King (2002)

Dwayne Johnson as The Scorpion King in The Scorpion King (2002)
Image via Universal Pictures

WWE Studio’s first feature film was an important one. In 2002, The Rock was the biggest name in wrestling and The Mummy franchise was huge business. It was a risk to make a wrestler the star of a spinoff to something that had been so profitable, but it worked, thanks partially to introducing his character in The Mummy Returns the year before. It wasn’t as good as The Mummy films, but it was a fun movie, and The Rock showed why he had been entrusted with such a huge endeavor. Many made jokes about a wrestling company producing their own Hollywood movie, but the end result showed that, while it wasn’t perfect, the film was the perfect starting point for The Great One, and showed how serious WWE was with their goals.

The Rundown (2003)

Dwayne Johnson as Beck arguing with Seann William Scott as Travis Walker in The Rundown (2003)
Image via Universal Pictures

Over a year later, WWE Studios produced another vehicle for The Rock. Here he got to be an action star, complete with a cameo from the king of action movies, Arnold Schwarzenegger, where he briefly appeared in a passing of the torch moment. While this couldn’t live up to some of Arnold’s best films, it works thanks to the great chemistry between The Rock and Sean William Scott. This was an above average buddy action flick, with big names like Christopher Walken and Rosario Dawson in supporting roles. It’s nothing you haven’t seen before, with a cool hero, witty one-liners, and thrilling fights, but it hits all of its marks and gives audiences what they came for.

Walking Tall (2004)

Dwayne Johnson as Chris Vaughn Jr. leaning against a Sheriff truck in Walking Tall (2004)
Image via MGM

WWE Studios completed their trio of films starring The Rock with this remake of the 1973 cult favorite of the same name. It follows a lot of the same formulas of The Rundown. You’ve got a charismatic and cool badass in the lead, now with Johnny Knoxville in the supporting buddy role. The story of an Army veteran as a Sheriff cleaning up crime in his town runs a little thin, but it makes up for it again in the chemistry between The Rock and Knoxville, competent action scenes, and the complete awareness that the lead was so great at pulling in the viewer, that there wasn’t anything he couldn’t do. The only problem might be that they relied on The Rock too much to carry the movie.

See No Evil (2006)

Glenn Jacobs as Jacob Goodnight in See No Evil (2006)
Image via Lionsgate

For their next film, WWE Studios took a big gamble. The Rock wasn’t there this time to draw in moviegoers and woo them with his natural charm. Instead, they turned to a wrestler named Kane (Glenn Jacobs), a man who was popular in wrestling fandom, but not a household name. He didn’t need to be. He was the opposite of The Rock, for here, in this slasher film, he was the villain, similar to the walking seven-foot-tall nightmare he was on WWE TV. It’s your standard slasher, with thin characters, but fun kills, and manages to work thanks to its unique villain. As Jacob Goodnight, an ax wielding, religious zealot maniac, Kane showed how scary he could be without the mask he’d worn for so many years. He made enough of a memorable impact that a sequel was made eight years later.

The Marine (2006)

John Cena as Sergeant John Triton in The Marine (2006)
Image via 20th Century Fox

The same year, WWE turned to the next face of their company, a young John Cena, in his film debut. This one tries hard to be the ultimate action flick, with Cena as the muscled up tough guy Marine who is back home and has to fight for his life when he finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time with your stereotypical bad guys. It’s a bit cheesy and over-the-top, but Cena is a presence you can’t look away from. This may not be Die Hard, but you can see a star being born, and he’s helped along the way with the usual top-notch work of Robert Patrick as the villain. The film would be popular enough to lead to five direct-to-video sequels over the years starring several other WWE wrestlers.

Legendary (2010)

John Cena as Mike Chetley wrestling Devon Graye as Cal Chetley in Legendary (2010)
Image via WWE Studios

WWE Studios made a series of standard action flicks for the next few years before trying something different with this one. John Cena was back, but he wasn’t wielding a gun and taking out bad guys. Here he got to show off his dramatic acting chops alongside proven veterans Patricia Clarkson and Danny Glover. Cena plays the brother of a teenager (Devon Graye), a nerdy bullied kid who tries to join the wrestling team. Cena is his opposite, the hard one who has been in a lot of trouble. The film shows their struggles and achievements. Yeah, it’s melodramatic and formulaic, but WWE aimed to make you feel something that wasn’t the standard adrenaline rush they were known for. In that, they succeeded.

That’s What I Am (2011)

That's What I Am (2011)
Image via WWE Studios

WWE Studios really aimed to be different this time, for here there is no wrestler starring, outside of Randy Orton in a small role. Instead, they landed Academy Award nominated actor Ed Harris in this admittedly hokey but effective drama. Set in a middle school with Harris as a principal outed for being gay, the movie deserves credit for addressing serious topics like bullying and acceptance. It’s a sad film at times with a lot of hard truths, and sometimes it gets bogged down under its own weight, but for a wrestling company to produce a coming-of-age film with such big topics is quite impressive.

The Call (2013)

Halle Berry as Jordan Turner in The Call (2013)
Image via Sony Pictures Releasing

This one was a surprise hit for WWE Studios. It’s easy to see why, with a megastar like Halle Berry in the lead, and a skilled director behind the camera in Brad Anderson, the man who gave us Session 9 and Christian Bale in The Machinist. When Abigail Breslin’s character is kidnaped, Berry shines as a 9-1-1 operator who takes matters into her own hands to save the teen. While critics were mixed in their reviews, theatergoers turned out to give Berry her first hit in years. It works by taking a unique premise and finding new ways throughout to amp up the tension. Though the last act kind of squanders that uniqueness, we look past it for giving us such thrilling twists and turns and helping to reinvigorate Halle Berry’s career.

Scooby-Doo! WrestleMania Mystery (2013)

scooby doo wrestlemania
Image via Warner Bros.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that a wrestling company producing a direct-to-video animated film based on a beloved cartoon was destined to be a flop. Sure, there’s a WWE tie-in with Scooby and the gang solving a mystery that occurs at WrestleMania, but it’s a cute and clever film, surprisingly smart and funny, with crisp animation and great voice work from the likes of a returning Matthew Lillard as Shaggy and the appearance of many WWE wrestlers such as Cena, Kane, Vince McMahon, and Triple H playing themselves. Kids will love it. Old school Scooby-Doo fans will enjoy it. And wrestling fans will get a kick out of it as well. It truly is a film for the whole family.

Oculus (2013)

Karen Gillan as Kaylie and Brenton Thwaites as Tim in Oculus (2014)
Image via Relativity Media

If you’ve seen this one, chances are you never even knew it was a WWE Studios film unless you happened to catch its name in the credits. While the studio had done horror before, it was cheesy, typical slasher material used to promote one of their talents. Here we get zero wrestlers turned actors for a movie that is absolutely not typical. Directed by the now unstoppable Mike Flanagan, this film was only his second feature and the one that propelled him to stardom. Based on his own short film about a possessed mirror, it’s also credited for starting the mainstream career of its lead, Karen Gillan. It’s a terrifying psychological feature, and proof that a wrestling company knew good entertainment when they saw it.

Fighting With My Family (2019)

Florence Pugh as Paige and Dwayne Johnson as himself in Fighting With My Family (2019)
Image via MGM

WWE Studio’s latest success is a coming-of-age tale about the rise of ex WWE women’s wrestler Paige, as she battles coming up through developmental to winning the championship on her first night on Raw. The Rock was a producer who helped get the film off the ground (he has a cameo as well). We get a feisty heroine in Paige, along with her at times crazy but passionate and close family. It put Florence Pugh on the map in the lead role to tell a true story about failure and perseverance. It might be a wrestling movie, but there’s something bigger going on than that. Its heart and great characters made it a big hit with critics and audiences alike, turning it perhaps into WWE Studios’ best film.