It seems like we’ve heard about The Wrestler for over a year. Originally, we heard that Nicolas Cage was supposed to fill the role, but he was supposed to be Superman at one time a long time ago. Then, we heard the excitement that Ring of Honor and CZW were invovled in the project. The film opened in late December to critical fanfare, with words being trading about the film from many names in the business.
FINALLY, we have a widespread release of the film in the Pittsburgh region. So I called up the Silent Ninja and said “Brother. We’re going to see the Wrestler.” And he responded….well, he didn’t because he’s silent. So I just went over and he was waiting out front of the SN-Lair with a baseball bat in hand. I told him to put that back. He won’t need it where we’re going.
…So after some cheesy tots, we head into the movie. I was amazed at the people. The theater was moderately filled. And the audience ranged from the mooks behind us, who I’m sure were bored halfway through, to the senior citizens in front of us that I’m sure enjoyed the CZW and strip club scenes.
From a fan perspective, that movie was spot on with the business segments. The movie gave you a pretty good glimpse at what wrestling was. From the talks backstage, to showing how the main character prepares the blade for his in match cut. The next match we see is the infamous Combat Zone Wrestling with an Oscar worthy performance by one Necrobutcher. Yep. That guy. Let me tell you that nothing was exagerated in that match. I’ve seen matches in person (JCW at the Gathering of the Juggalos several years) where Necro and Pondo did all of the staples, tacks, tables, etc. At this point, I began to wonder how many of the people in the audience seeing this movie would believe that this was a real wrestling “style” right here in Pennsylvania? (CZW is based in Philedelphia). I had fun watching the matches in the movie. Not only did Mickey Rourke look like a pro wrestler, he performed like one. A lot of what you saw was him taking hits and bumps, and in one scene, jumping over the top rope. The only things that screamed some Hollywood magic were his top rope finisher (I can’t see that as an ’80’s era finisher aside from Superfly) and the Rourke’s side of the CZW match. But the latter is expected considering the barbaric nature of the match.
But then there’s an actual movie here too. Though it feels much like a documentary (and it could loosely be based on many wrestlers in the business) it really is story of a broken down man who longs for his glory days. This could have been about a football player, baseball player, or any rock legend movie you could see out there. It’s the mark of a good, award winning movie, it seems, if you get those moments that you become frustrated with the character’s decisions and downfalls. Or that there’s some uncomfortable character moment (like Rourke attempting to sing and dance to the 80’s rock in a bar with Marisa Tormei (who is utterly rediculous in her stripper scenes. Wow.)
Ready to Rumble, this is not. This is a reality based look at professional wrestling that we will be talking about for a long time.