With Fighting with my Family in the cinema now, I decided to have a look at six alternative wrestling movies, as it seems like the genre of wrestling just doesn’t get covered as often as you might think.
First Match was one of the biggest surprises of 2018, going straight to Netflix. The film follows Mo, a teenage girl that has been through the foster system in Brooklyn. She is heading down the troublemaker route, until she joins the high school boys’ wrestling team, beating them all on the way to getting on the team. Her brighter future comes into doubt when her father (played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, recently seen in Aquaman) tries to push her into the underground street fighting scene, to make extra money. First Match puts a teenage girl in one of the most difficult moments of her life, finally finding a sport that could help her focus her frustrations and get back on track through school, or a life of crime, like her father.
Foxcatcher looks at the events around the Schultz brothers, the US Olympic wrestling champions who are trained by multi-millionaire John du Pont leading up to the South Korea Olympics. This is one of the more shocking sports movies you will see if you don’t know the true story; I didn’t, and couldn’t believe what happened by the end of the film. Foxcatcher has a wonderful cast in Steve Carell being truly disturbing in an Oscar-nominated role, Mark Ruffalo also getting an Oscar nod is great to see, and Channing Tatum is also in involved a breakaway from the characters we have seen him play before, showing he can be a serious actor.
Ready to Rumble
Ready to Rumble follows two slackers, Gordie and Sean, who are devasted that their hero Jimmy King loses his WCW title. They decide to help Jimmy get his career back on track, getting the rematch against Diamond Dallas Page, even if it means going over the head of Evil WCW owner Titus Sinclair. Ready to Rumble was released in 2000, during the same time the Attitude Era and when the war between WWE and WCW was at its peak, when both promotions had to put together over-the-top storylines. This story could easily have come from either of the companies and works if you are a sports entertainment wrestling fan. It can be considered silly in places, but to see the icons of the time including Goldberg, Sting and DDP front and center of a movie, it just clicked.
Legendary brings us back to high school wrestling, as we follow a book-smart teenager, Cal, who joins the team, forcing his estranged college legend brother Mike (played by wrestling superstar John Cena) to train him, to help bring his family back together after the death of his father. Legendary might be a glossier coming-of-age movie, it does still have a strong message about family and learning to become your own legend, even if you must fight harder than the people you are following.
Nacho Libre is one of the silliest wrestling films you will see; it follows a monk who wants to follow his dreams and becomes a masked Luchador (Mexican wrestler) even if his family wants nothing to do with him being a wrestler. The meaning behind this film is to follow your dreams, no matter what people say. It might be told with silly comedy that doesn’t always come off, but if you don’t go in looking for something serious you will find a little piece of enjoyment here.
The Wrestler put the spotlight on Randy ‘The Ram’ Robinson, who is an aging wrestler touring the independent scene trying to keep his fame relevant only to learn that his health isn’t as good as it should be, with wrestling taking its toll on his body. Randy is also trying to make up with his daughter that he wasn’t around for when she grew up. The Wrestler shows the life of a once famous wrestler that left the fame behind, only for him to still appeal to the fans out there who want to see him compete in high school gyms. This is a powerful if not the most powerful one on my list, but one everybody will expect to see included on the list.