Nacho Libre is a hilarious movie, but is it one of the greatest pro-wrestling films of all time?

Netflix has just released a new 7-episode docuseries called Wrestlers. As a lifelong wrestling fan myself, naturally, I set it at number 1 on my weekend watchlist. But in the meantime, it’s also got me itching to watch some of the best wrestling movies of all time! As if I needed a reason, but still.

Featuring an eclectic class of pro-wrestling trainees led by longtime vet Al Snow, Wrestlers chronicles the various struggles of Ohio Valley Wrestling. These issues range from potential financial collapse, to explosively emotional turmoil between the trainees.

This current iteration of the small promotion is certainly a far cry from the OVW of old. Once known as the gatekeeper for wrestlers aspiring to WWE level prominence, OVW is where many of the biggest crossover stars got their start. Notable OVW alums include Brock Lesnar, Dave Bautista, and John Cena, all three of whom have catapulted themselves into mainstream fame and prestige.

To see a once thriving promotion reduced to what you see in Wrestlers can be a bit disheartening. But if there’s one thing fans of wrestling and storytelling in general love, it’s an underdog story. And Wrestlers seems to be scratching that itch for many. One of my friends who isn’t even a pro-wrestling fan started it yesterday, and he was surprised by how much he’s enjoyed it. And he’s not the only one. Many mainstream publications are praising the show, with Variety dubbing it a “(body) slam dunk.”

Wrestlers looks to be a tale full of emotional hills and valleys, with characters whose struggles most everyone can relate to. If you fall in love with this series and are clamoring for more wrestling media to consume, well look no further! Here’s a list of some of my favorite wrestling movies of all time, in no particular order.

EDIT: After having now seen The Iron Claw in theaters, I feel I’d be doing a disservice to my fellow wrestling fans if I didn’t include such a worthy addition to this list.

  • Honorable mention: Foxcatcher (2014)

     

    I’m giving Foxcatcher an honorable mention since, while it’s more centered around “real” mat-based wrestling, it’s still an emotionally gripping film and features a stacked cast including Mark Ruffalo, Channing Tatum and Steve Carell.  All three actors put on absolutely incredible performances, with Ruffalo and Carell earning Oscar noms for their portrayal of rivals Dave Schultz and John du Pont. This movie is a tragic retelling of real life events that you’ll need to see to believe.

  • Fighting With My Family (2019)

     

    Fighting With My Family recounts the early life and career of real-life wrestler Saraya Bevis, better known by WWE fans as Paige. Florence Pugh plays the role of the rebellious and unorthodox wrestler with wrestler with scary precision, bringing Saraya’s real life charisma and magnetism to the big screen. This movie will certainly make you laugh, cry, and maybe even put your brother in a headlock.

  • Nacho Libre (2006)

     

    I’m not exaggerating at all when I say I’ve seen this movie hundreds of times. Even if you’re not a wrestling fan you will love Nacho Libre. Come on, it’s Jack Black running around in spandex as a masked luchador. How can you say no to that? Nacho Libre is also insanely quotable so you and your friends will have inside jokes for days after watching it. You’d be surprised how many times in a day I randomly exclaim, “GET THAT CORN OUTTA MY FACE!”

  • The Resurrection of Jake the Snake (2015)

     

    Warning: this documentary is extremely visceral and not for those with weak dispositions.

    Jake “The Snake” Roberts has been through Hell and back to get his life back on track since his glory days in WWE. This long and grueling process was laid out in horrifically graphic detail in this 2015 indie doc. With the help of lifelong friends, including fellow wrestling legend Diamond Dallas Page, Roberts learns to come to peace with his past and put his alcoholism down for the 1-2-3. The Resurrection of Jake the Snake, while downright tough to look at at times, is a tale of improbably triumph that will inspire you to lead a better life.

  • The Peanut Butter Falcon (2019)

     

    This movie is criminally slept on in my opinion. Peanut Butter Falcon is just as hilarious as it is moving, with a generous smattering of profundity snuck into the more absurd moments. It’s been described as a modern day Huckleberry Finn story, with the squared circle serving as a perfect centerpiece fueling the film’s message. Definitely check this one out for a feel-good viewing experience.

  • The Wrestler (2008)

     

    Widely regarded as the best pro-wrestling movie in history, The Wrestler is an emotional gut punch from start to finish. Mickey Rourke plays the fictional Randy “The Ram” Robinson, a middle aged wrestling veteran whose body and personal life have been equally marred by decades on the road. With his body beaten and his relationships severed – possibly for good – Randy fights both in and out of the ring to find himself now that his glory days are far behind him.

    The Wrestler is beloved by critics, wrestling fans, and even wrestlers alike. Legends like Ric Flair, Mick Foley and Bret Hart have said on record that Rourke’s portrayal of an aging wrestler past his prime hits so close to home. It makes sense that he was nominated for Best Actor at the Oscars that year. If you only watch one single movie from this list, please make it this one…

    Or Nacho Libre. NACHOOOOOOO!

  • The Iron Claw (2023)

    As a fairly seasoned radio host who routinely runs his mouth for a living, I rarely ever find myself at a loss for words. But that’s exactly what happened after sitting in the theater as the closing credits rolled for The Iron Claw.

    Based on the tragically true story of one of the most legendary families in the history of wrestling, The Iron Claw pulls absolutely zero punches in its depiction of the Von Erichs. Zac Efron puts on a truly career-defining performance as Kevin Von Erich, who has to fight through unimaginable pain and loss to discover something more valuable than championship gold: peace of mind.

    The Iron Claw stands as one of the most moving, resonant experiences I’ve ever had with a film of any genre. Bravo to everyone involved in this film, and if Efron doesn’t win an Oscar for this I’m slapping the Claw on the entire academy.

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