Untapped Potential: Why Pro-Wrestling Biopics Are So Hard to Pull Off [OPINION]

The story of World Wrestling Entertainment’s (WWE) Paige, become a rare exception in the world of professional wrestling that it showed authenticity and achieved what it wanted with hardly any filtering.

Lack of Dramatization

When you look at another acclaimed film in Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler where the protagonist in Randy “The Ram” Robinson (Mickey Rourke) going his life the only way he knows how in professional wrestling, but his lifestyle in and outside of the ring ruined his interpersonal relationships with family. It offered a rare and sympathetic look at what many wrestlers go through to suffer for their sport. WWE took an opportunity to take advantage of the publicity and put him in a program with Chris Jericho.

Untapped Stories: Why It’s Hard to Film Pro-Wrestling Biopics [OPINION]
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How often do we get a raw look into the life of a wrestler? Much of the existing content come in the form of documentaries or Netflix’s GLOW, a fictional dramatization of a real organization. Whether if it’s Viceland’s Darkside of the Ring or documentary Wrestling with Shadows, there’s not much open material readily made available to tell the full story outside of WWE with its massive library.

Existing Projects

What if we want to bring the story to light in a feature film? That’s where the can of worms comes in. Pandemomium, the story of WWE founder Vince McMahon hasn’t generated any movement other than Bradley Cooper offered the role to play him. Glenn Ficarra and John Requa are the directors with Craig A. Williams attached to write the screenplay. Given McMahon’s self-consciousness about his own image and how it reflects on his company, how can anyone expect an honest and faithful presentation of the man’s life and not butchered sanitation?

credit//WWE

That’s the problem with a company like WWE having so much control about the world of professional wrestling. Take another film of a controversial topic internally with Crossface, which hasn’t received an update since 2016 other than Punisher: War Zone director Lexi Alexander was attached. Crossface is about former champion Chris Benoit, who was one out of many who suffered for his sport. Years of bombardment with repeated blows to the head led to his  murder-suicide and post-humous CTE diagnosis.

What about the story of Bret “The Hitman” Hart? His life is full of triumphs going through the ranks to head up top of the professional wrestling world. He, too suffered for his lifestyle when an errant kick to the head during a televised matched caused the concussion that forced his retirement. It also ultimately led to the strokes he’s suffered. He’s also suffered from losses of his friends, brothers and in-laws with the premature deaths of Davey Boy Smith, Owen Hart, and Brian Pillman. As much as the relationship as the Hart family’s had with the McMahons, there’s tons of silver-lining that won’t get told in a WWE-produced project/film.

WWE

Even if WWE approves of these kinds of stories, how much authenticity can we expect? In Concussion (2015), Will Smith played Dr. Bennet Omalu, who helped bring national attention of CTE from repeated trauma to the head of former football players., Given how much media influence the NFL had, it’s not surprising that authenticity was one of the film’s biggest criticisms with key NFL figures left out or marginalized.

It’s important the story gets told, right? The NFL started taking measures to address the problems it neglected in the CTE studies before Concussion came out. WWE also took similar measures creating a more strict policy to ban chair shots to the head during matches. The company’s also provided some background on what happens behind-the-scenes with their interview programming on WWE Network for wrestlers to tell “a version” of their side of the story.

What would be a compelling biopic right off the bat? How about André the Giant? A celebrated global figure, he dealt with persistent pain from the sport that game him fame. He traveled around the world when the world for the most part, couldn’t accommodate him. Beds were too small or airplanes didn’t have sufficient comfortable seating for him. He suffered greatly for his sport and the fans. The life he’s lived should be put on the screen from his beginnings in France, his rise to fame among the wrestling ranks, and his time shooting The Princess Bride. With all the existing documentary footage, the content has potential for being Oscar-worthy.

What wrestling stories would you like to see on the big screen?

About Tom Chang

I'm a gamer, sci-fi and fantasy fan. film and TV snob. I love to write and read the classics. Anything you want to talk about, I'm here to entertain or at least pretend to be interested.

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