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Anyone else had a chance to check this out?

 

I watched it tonight and what an uncomfortable movie to sit through. I never thought of the daily lives of washed-up 80s wrestlers until watching it but I would think this would be an extreme case of being down on your luck. I may be completely off the mark and this may be pretty typical. Anyone else care to comment?

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It did remind me of few guys I've known. Anyone remember former WCW jobber/territory guy Bart Sawyer? He was a friend of mine, and he was definitely on my mind during parts of this movie. He lived in a trailer; he did hardcore garbage matches he didn't need to; he had a stroke which he's still trying to recover from and still wrestle even though he's totally not in proper medical condition. The Wrestler might not be a good representation of the most common post-Big Time experience, but there are definitely examples out there which are similar to the movie character.

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Obviously not every 80s wrestler ended up like Randy the Ram, but when you have the biggest star of that era (possibly ever) working small indy shows it kind of illustrates what happens to guys after the business is done with them.

 

Think about the guys who were superstars in the WWF in the 80s, which is what Randy is clearly based on. How many of them went on to live lives either the same or not much better than his? The only ones who don't end up like him are mostly the guys who end up taking an office job with the company.

 

When you consider it's a career that doesn't offer any type of medical or pension coverage, and it all but guarantees a lifetime of pain and medical costs, the Ram's fate would be pretty hard to avoid.

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I wonder how many wrestling fans watched that movie and felt uncomfortable with the reality that the guys they cheer for will probably end up like that some day. I don't want to start another "club the heartless wrestling fan" debate, but it does seem like there's a large amount of cognitive dissonance involved in watching it. Most people (who are being honest with themselves) realize they are watching mostly horrible people in a tremendously scummy business, and that's ok as long as the matches are entertaining. There's always a subtext of "I don't care about you as a human being, entertain me you meat puppets" when it comes to being a fan I guess.

 

Watching the movie kind of made me remember what it was like to be a big Jake Roberts fan growing up and then finding out later about his horribly screwed up upbringing that led to his substance abuse issues and estrangement from his family.

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If you haven't had an opportunity to see it in a theater yet, you might not need to search any further than the merch table at an indy show. I went to a show last weekend that had not one, but TWO people selling bootlegs of the screener copy of The Wrestler. One guy - who is actually a "name" indy wrestler - was even playing it on a portable DVD player throughout the course of the show.

 

It opens here in Des Moines in two weeks and I'm pretty pumped to go see it in the theater. For those that have seen it - would taking my non-wrestling fan wife be a terrible idea?

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Eh, depends on what kind of movies she likes. Do remember that this is from the same director who made Requiem for a Dream, and while this one isn't THAT grim or depressing, it's still not exactly a fluffy goodtimes popcorn flick. But if she enjoys kinda-tragic character study type of dramas with good acting and isn't the type of woman who'll get mad that you made her watch a movie which contains female nudity, then I say go for it.

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isn't the type of woman who'll get mad that you made her watch a movie which contains female nudity, then I say go for it.

Ah, yes, Marisa Marisa Marisa. Not a bad little 40-something, is she? I wish those tattoos were real. . .

 

Okay, back to the substantive discussion. . .

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It's not that different from Don "The Rock" Muraco, for example.

 

If you want to start nitpicking some of the wrestling details, there's plenty of little mistakes here and there.

 

-Like, what the hell was the Ram Jam, anyway? It looked like it could've been anything from an elbow drop to a diving headbutt, and we only really saw him hit it once.

-Or, since when do guys trade thousands of dollars worth of steroids in the middle of the locker room? How would Randy have afforded all that shit, anyway?

-Don't most wrestling bookers just write out the card on a piece of paper and tape it to the wall, rather than listing it all out loud in a pre-show pep talk?

-Weren't all of Randy's matches awfully short, if you go back and timed them?

-How would a fading 80s relic get booked in all the Northeastern smark federations, anyway?

-How many guys who were in marquee matches at Wrestlemania III are still working the indies today?

-And to me the most notable mistake was the crowd noise. In all of Ram's matches, it was just too hyper and loud. Felt like it never had any of those moments where the crowd sat down and shut up, which happens in pretty much every match ever. Maybe that just stuck out to me since I was an announcer and thus have actually listened to more crowds during more matches at more shows than most people would even want to think about.

 

And there's probably more which I'm not remembering. But still, who cares? Practically every movie ever made has some kind of unrealistic moment or error of some kind which doesn't match up with real life. Stuff like Braveheart or Gladiator can take real-life historical figures and completely rewrite history in a totally fictional manner, and still win Academy Awards. So while there are lots of boo-boos you can point to, I think the stuff it got right (everything else) is more important.

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It's not that different from Don "The Rock" Muraco, for example.

 

If you want to start nitpicking some of the wrestling details, there's plenty of little mistakes here and there.

 

-Like, what the hell was the Ram Jam, anyway? It looked like it could've been anything from an elbow drop to a diving headbutt, and we only really saw him hit it once.

-Or, since when do guys trade thousands of dollars worth of steroids in the middle of the locker room? How would Randy have afforded all that shit, anyway?

-Don't most wrestling bookers just write out the card on a piece of paper and tape it to the wall, rather than listing it all out loud in a pre-show pep talk?

-Weren't all of Randy's matches awfully short, if you go back and timed them?

-How would a fading 80s relic get booked in all the Northeastern smark federations, anyway?

-How many guys who were in marquee matches at Wrestlemania III are still working the indies today?

-And to me the most notable mistake was the crowd noise. In all of Ram's matches, it was just too hyper and loud. Felt like it never had any of those moments where the crowd sat down and shut up, which happens in pretty much every match ever. Maybe that just stuck out to me since I was an announcer and thus have actually listened to more crowds during more matches at more shows than most people would even want to think about.

 

And there's probably more which I'm not remembering. But still, who cares? Practically every movie ever made has some kind of unrealistic moment or error of some kind which doesn't match up with real life. Stuff like Braveheart or Gladiator can take real-life historical figures and completely rewrite history in a totally fictional manner, and still win Academy Awards. So while there are lots of boo-boos you can point to, I think the stuff it got right (everything else) is more important.

 

None of what you list could be determed a "mistake" though. I know as far as "How would a fading 80s relic get booked in all the Northeastern smark federations" goes, the scenes with Randy doing hardcore matches reminded me a lot of Terry Funk in ECW. Also Randy's big historical match was told as being in 1989 and there's a lot of guys from that time period puttering around on the indies now. What strikes me the most is that of all the wrestlers who've posted their reviews on the internet so far, the only thing most of them take issue with is the open drug dealing, which seemed to be more of the director showing the audience that drug use is common rather than something intended to be an accurate portrayal of the wrestling drug scene.

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Anyone else had a chance to check this out?

 

I watched it tonight and what an uncomfortable movie to sit through. I never thought of the daily lives of washed-up 80s wrestlers until watching it but I would think this would be an extreme case of being down on your luck. I may be completely off the mark and this may be pretty typical. Anyone else care to comment?

I'm guessing a lot of people see it as a parallel of Mickey Rourke's own life, and considering the movie industry can be just as fucked up as the wrestling business, I'm guessing Aronofsky was aware of that subtext.

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Guest LShunter

I saw this the other day and really enjoyed it. Rourke's performance really sucked me in, it was excellent. The only distraction I had during the whole movie was hearing one guy in the theatre say "WHASSUP" when Ron Killings appeared.

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  • 3 months later...
Guest secondcoming

I admittedly marked for Ernest Miller...

 

 

also, I think this movie was pretty damn accurate...

 

I am thinking Jake "The Snake" Roberts, or Greg "The Hammer" Valentine...seems to fit their post-stardom days to every detail.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I never told my current long-term girlfriend about how I bled so much during my days as an indy wrestler here in Cali. When she saw Randy cut and tape the blade her first thought was that he was going to kill his opponent. Then I told her to just keep watching. About five minutes later she realized just how I got so much color, then just kept staring at my forehead.

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  • 5 months later...

Finally saw the movie this weekend.

 

I really liked Rourke's performance. Ditto for Tormei. Both of their characters were believable and they seemed to have good chemistry with each other.

 

I dug the storyline in which Randy finds that Pam is the one person who will truly listen to him. That plot point works pretty well... how the honest talk with Pam seems to convince Randy to change and get away from the wrestling business... and how Pam at first brushing him off when Randy makes it clear he wants to spend the rest of his life with her is what leads to Randy coming apart again.

 

But then my problems with the movie start to rise... I didn't really feel sympathetic for Randy's daughter, nor did I think of her as this "cold hearted bitch." She was just kind of there. Not a whole lot was done to explain what makes her tick, other than the fact her father wasn't around often as a kid. And what happened to the mother, anyway?

 

The scene where Randy ends up quitting his job at the grocery store is overdone... and really, what boss is going to tell you to "quit bleeding in front of the customers" even if you cut your thumb because of your own anger/carelessness? Seriously, why would anyone want to work for a boss like that?

 

It would have been nice if we had delved just a little bit into the "behind the scenes" relationship between Randy and The Ayatollah... we basically just get Ayatollah asking Randy during the match if he's OK and telling him to "just send it home." But what about what became of Randy's biggest rival over the years? Might have been interesting to go a little bit into Ayatollah the human being and his concern for Randy's health.

 

Rourke certainly deserved his Oscar nomination, but the film was a bit unsatisfying for me in some respects. Certainly it's a storyline we are all too familiar with in pro wrestling, but I don't think enough was done from the story standpoint to make me feel sympathetic for Randy.

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The general point of the grocery store stuff was to show Randy's struggle to work outside of wrestling. The general question being "when you're finished doing the thing you're best at, what do you do?" Ayatollah fits into that well. You get some conversation before the match about him selling real estate in Arizona/New Mexico. He found the life he needed outside of wrestling, which Randy hadn't.

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