This Week: Fighting With My Family
So as the kids say, “it’s been a minute” since I was a fan of professional wrestling. I’ve seen a few pay-per-views over the past few years. I saw SummerSlam with Stephen Amell a few years ago, and then after that I watched a few pay-per-views with my friends, but that’s about it. I’d say from about 1998-2001 I was a big fan of the WWF, back when it was still sharing web searches with the World Wildlife Foundation. After I got into football, Pro Wrestling just seemed too predictable. Monday Night Raw lost the fight with Monday Night Football and I never really looked back.
So as a result, I wasn’t very familiar with Paige and the Women’s Revolution. However, when trailers for this movie started coming out, I decided to invest a little research. I saw the debut fight between AJ Lee and Paige and did a brief review of Paige’s history in the WWE. I didn’t research much more because I wanted to let the movie tell me the story.
Honestly, it’s a pretty good story. I’ll concede it isn’t much different than your standard poverty to stardom underdog story that you see in most sport biopics. However, those stories are inherently intriguing, so that’s why they keep popping up. All the actors are just top notch. Every actor disappears into his or her role.
A few problems with the film mainly come from it being a biopic of a story that is almost 10 years old. For example, 13 year-old Paige/Saraya makes a cardboard WWE Diva’s Championship belt. The problem is the Diva Championship belt was created in 2008, 3 years after Paige/Saraya made her belt. In 2011, Paige’s dad makes a Hunger Games reference. Which is fine if he is referencing the book, but the first Hunger Games film didn’t come out until 2012, so it wouldn’t be a good pop-culture reference at the time. A slightly bigger issue is how they sort of gloss over Paige’s NXT career and Paige’s WWE debut.
The movie kind of makes it seem like Paige got tapped for her debut out of nowhere. NXT in the film seems less like a buildup federation and more like boot camp training. So there is very little focus on her competing in the NXT and is mostly just a training montage. Then boom, she gets inexplicably chosen to wrestle the Diva’s Champion on Raw. She goes up and freezes when she has the mic and then they have a 5-10 minute fight where Paige starts out briefly getting beat up, then starts laying a but whooping on AJ Lee before countering AJ Lee’s submission hold into a slam called the “Paige Turner.” After Paige wins [Spoiler], she then stands tall in the ring, grabs the mic and gives her speech that she could not make before the fight.
Anyone who watched Paige’s ACTUAL debut knows it went quite differently. Paige was already NXT Women’s Champion when she debuted on Raw. So it wasn’t out of the blue, she was likely already a fan favorite in NXT and it just made sense to jump up to the WWE. Then in her debut on Raw, she does do some talking on the mic and although starting out sounding like she was going to make a tough challenge, just decides to congratulate AJ Lee and say she wasn’t ready to fight. AJ Lee then decided to make it a match and it is only about 2 minutes long. AJ Lee beats down Paige for a little bit then locks in a submission hold, that Paige Counters into a slam, and pins her for the win. Paige then runs for her life as AJ Lee’s bodyguard comes in to beat Paige’s ass. Paige is shocked she won and leaves with the belt.
So they drastically change how the fight goes and even went with completely different outfits than what Paige and AJ Lee were wearing in the actual fight. I get they did the other changes for dramatic story telling and current references, but changing costumes for the final fight just seems unnecessary to me. Whatever, standard biopic fare.
In the end, the trailers should be a good barometer of whether you will enjoy this film. If you liked the trailers, you’ll probably enjoy this film. If you are not a fan of Pro Wrestling or underdog sport stories, then this might not be your cup of tea (they’re British, it works).
I just don’t recommend going to the 11:30pm showing when you have work the next morning because you won’t get enough sleep.
Next Week: Captain Marvel.