While wrestling waned in popularity in the past decade, it’s experienced a slow comeback with the introduction of new wrestlers, new angles, and new federations like the AEW. The new Wrestlemania show premiered last weekend to mixed reaction from fans, meanwhile WWE has been making its mark on Netflix. They premiered the family sitcom “The Big Show” about the life of the former wrestler, and today released “The Main Event,” a kids’ sports comedy about a kid who enters a wrestling competition in the WWE to become the next superstar.
As an on again, off again fan of the sport since I was old enough to walk, I thought I’d list five great wrestling movies. These are of course fictional Wrestling films, as we have enough exploitative documentaries about the rise and fall of various superstars.
The original documentary “Fighting With My Family” was the stuff that underdog tales were made of, so when it was turned in to a feature film, it wasn’t too surprising. Stephen Merchant has a knack for creating very funny, human tales, and this adaptation does a good job of taking from the documentary and creating a very good adaptation of the story of Saraya, a young wrestling fanatic who would become Paige, one of the most influential female wrestlers and Superstars for the WWE.
As someone who grew up with a family that adored wrestling, I had a very good time learning about Paige and the down to Earth working classic family she grew up in. “Fighting With My Family” is the adaptation of the documentary that tells the tale of Paige and how she grew up working with her parents, both of whom built their own home grown wrestling federation. Paige, the most popular of her brood, eventually rose to become a WWE star, allowing for a great tale of the working class rising to fame. With some liberties taken Stephen Merchant’s “Fighting With My Family” is almost as good that also works as a tribute to the power of family.
As a list junkie and an old school fan of WWE, “The WWE Book of Top 10’s” is a great new compilation for fans of the sport that tackles all areas of the WWE for fans to debate about. Of course with all lists and books about lists, there is bound to be some anger and or controversy, but first and foremost DK publishing’s “The WWE Book of Top 10’s” is a book meant for fun and intended to evoke conversation among wrestling buffs that can appreciate the novelty of this kind of guide.
If you’re a fan of one of the most iconic wrestling stars of all time, you’re in for a big treat with “Hustle, Loyalty, Respect” from DK Books. It’s the literal encyclopedia of John Cena, chronicling everything from his early life, his childhood, and there’s even a look at the evolution of his character. Cena is one of the most dynamic and charismatic performers from the WWE, as well as one of the most charitable, and he garners a much deerved massive collectible book that provides everything you need to know about the man without marrying him. Delivered to fans in a hardcover book, fans are given a collectible wrist band with the book, and are allowed to read about everything Cena has been through in his entire sports career.
I would love to tell you that my first experience with Roddy Piper was with his time as a wrestler, but damn it, it was watching “They Live.” Yes, the movie that basically turned Piper in to a bonafide action star is the movie I knew Piper from, originally. I must have watched “They Live” a billion times on television when I was a child. As Nada, Roddy Piper was a force to be reckoned with, and it was an easy role to fit in to, mainly because Piper was a grade A entertainer who knew how to act. Sure he didn’t act on films or TV shows in his early days, but he played a character, and he was damn good at what he did.
In the eighties, Hulk Hogan was a titan who stood tall in influence and adoration alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger. In the age of the cold car, Hogan is the hero America wanted. He was blond, large, charismatic, heroic, and garnered a handlebar mustache that made him look like a buff trucker fighting for the country. “No Holds Barred” perfectly demonstrates why Hogan was such a force in the sports world, with a charismatic performance in an otherwise goofy movie.
It’s surprising how “The History of WWE” feels less like a documentary and more like a press kit for the WWE organization. There’s only about two hours of a film here, and most of the more important facets of the organization are completely glossed over. I really would have loved to learn more about the WWF, why and when it became the WWE, and for the filmmakers to feature many more wrestlers in their profile. Surely, Hulk Hogan helped revive the popularity of the WWE for the eighties, but there were also folks like Roddy Piper, Bret Hart, and Stone Cold, all of whom really helped bring the WWE in to the new generation.