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Everyone's Talking About The Time Dave Bautista Took A Huge Shot At Dwayne Johnson

WWE superstars are no strangers to performing, and some of sports entertainment's best and brightest have been known to leap from the squared circle to the silver screen. As anyone who's seen "Rowdy" Roddy Piper's 1988 cult classic They Live or Hulk Hogan's turn as Thunderlips in Rocky III can attest, this isn't a new phenomenon. However, few have been able to turn their wrestling fame to Hollywood success as well as Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Dave Bautista. The two literal giants of the entertainment industry once held WWE championship belts, and today, they hold something that's arguably even more valuable: The ability to sell movie tickets.

Johnson broke through in Hollywood as the villainous Scorpion King in 2001's The Mummy Returns and its prologue-slash-spin-off The Scorpion King. This established him as a fine action-adventure leading man, setting him on a path that he's walked ever since. Meanwhile, Bautista's first major movie role was a slightly less successful action turn in the direct-to-DVD feature Wrong Side of Town, released in 2010. As he worked through villain roles in movies like The Man with the Iron Fists and, as luck would have it, The Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption, Bautista realized how difficult it was to transition from a WWE wrestler to an actor. He soon hired an agent, who helped him score an audition for the role of Drax the Destroyer in 2014's Guardians of the Galaxy. The rest, as they say, is history.

One might expect these two successful veterans of the ring and the movie set to have nothing but respect for one another. While that's mostly true, Bautista actually once took a huge shot at Johnson.

Dave Bautista once said he doesn't think Dwayne Johnson is a particularly good actor

It's true that Bautista and Johnson both come from a wrestling background, but this doesn't necessarily mean that they're on the same page when it comes to the art of acting. Speaking to The Tampa Bay Times in February 2019, Bautista shared that he and Johnson have some significant differences when it comes to their thespian careers and, specifically, their level of talent. In fact, it appears Bautista sees Johnson as a just blockbuster movie star as opposed to a true actor. 

"[Johnson and fellow wrestler-turned-actor John Cena] are wrestlers who became movie stars," Bautista stated at the time. "I'm something else. I was a wrestler. Now, I'm an actor."    

To be fair, Bautista did share that Johnson has a certain star quality that justifies his A-list status. "There is something about him that's really special," he said. "I'd never take that away from him." However, when it comes to sheer acting talent, the Guardians of the Galaxy star didn't mince words: "Would I consider him a great actor? F*** no." 


Two former wrestlers, two different career paths

Weighing up who's the "better" of two stars is always a dangerous game, even when the people in question aren't towering mountains of muscle. Still, it's worth mentioning that despite their outward similarities, Johnson and Bautista have indeed embraced different paths in their film careers. 

The former has spent the majority of his movie career embracing his movie superstar qualities with roles like Luke Hobbs in the Fast & Furious film series and Dr. Xander "Smolder" Bravestone in the rebooted Jumanji franchise. Over the years, many have pointed out that Johnson tends to play more or less the same role, just in different projects. However, Johnson's not afraid to venture outside the confines of the straightforward action movie genre, as his starring roles on HBO's sports comedy-drama Ballers and in the Disney animated movie Moana prove. 

Meanwhile, Bautista's strength lies in character acting. Combined with his hulking physique, he has a true talent for portraying complex characters, and his ability to depict nuance and emotion on screen is incredibly effective — even if his roles are rather small. In fact, his turn as Sapper Morton in Blade Runner 2049 has been heralded one of the best one-scene performances of all time

Apart from Johnson, Bautista also took a shot at John Cena, whose Hollywood star has been on the rise for a while now. Incidentally, Cena seems to be following both Bautista's and Johnson's career paths. In his role as the "douchey Captain America" character Peacemaker in the upcoming film The Suicide Squad, he appears to take a page from Bautista's playbook by playing a goofy superhero in a James Gunn-directed blockbuster based on a comic book universe. Cena's evidently also following Johnson's footprints by joining the Fast & Furious franchise as Jakob Toretto, the possible villain of the upcoming Fast & Furious 9. It'll be interesting to see which man's career path Cena ultimately goes for. 

Some fans prefer Dave Bautista, others prefer Dwayne Johnson

Bautista's comments about Johnson suddenly re-entered the digital dialogue in September 2020, and fans quickly found themselves in a tizzy, taking to social media to weigh in on the situation well over a year after the interview took place.

One Twitter user directly addressed Bautista and came to the defense of both Johnson and Cena. They wrote, "You disrepected [sic] not only Dwayne Johnson but all those actors and individulas [sic] male and female who worked hard on those F&F and Bumblebee movies only to star in movies like My Spy & Stuber. Jughead idiot."

Another kept a more level tone in sharing their thoughts on the matter, tweeting that they feel Johnson is a better performer than Bautista. "I completely disagree with @DaveBautista on this one. @TheRock is a far better actor than credited. Great acting is more than just period dramas, indie movies & worthy Shakespearean theatre!" wrote Twitterer @JayShareefUK. "Dwayne's energy is infectious and his comic timing IMPECCABLE!!"

In pondering the question of who's a better actor, Johnson or Bautista, Twitter user @KryptoKommie was Team Bautista — but admitted the Rock has star power: "For real? Rock is more of a movie star, but Bautista is more of an actor. I gotchoo, @DaveBautista."

Someone else disagreed with that argument, tweeting, "So apparently @DaveBautista is talking trash about @TheRock and his movies. Must be lonely down at the bottom huh Dave? Rock has more talent in his pinky toe than you do." And other user in the Twitter-sphere felt differently than that person, writing, "HELL YEAH I AGREE WITH BAUTISTA! He's a better actor in more ways than Rock & Cena. Rock is all about the money & does the same S*** over & over again."

Clearly, there will be no unanimous agreement as to which man is more of a "true" actor than the other, but there's little denying that both have enough magnetism to spur their fans to vouch for them so passionately — even so long after Bautista made his harsh remarks.