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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

On Wrassling


I just saw The Wrestler (Mickey Rourke) the other day and I felt I had to write something about it. However, let me begin this entry by saying that, being a wrestling fan, I am absolutely moved by the film.

The Wrestler is hands down the best wrestling movie ever made. Screw Ready to Rumble and its hackneyed attempt to entertain and put the glamor of wrestling into the big screen because, to put it bluntly, there is nothing glamorous about the sport. It is gritty, bloody, messy, and puts everything on the line, things that were successfully shown in the movie.

Looking at the film into a more precise level, The Wrestler is perhaps the most evocative portrait of a person who has dedicated his life in the art of a harrowing sport that is almost akin to a freak show. Not that wrestlers are freaks, but the risks they have to take, trials they have to undergo, and tribulations they have to endure have forced some of them to lead a life similar to Randy "Ram" Robinson -- broken-down, suffering from multiple conditions, separated from his family and, most importantly, from reality. He tries to find light from what seemed to be the end of what he held dear in undergoing heart bypass after a wrestling match by finding romantic grounds with a stripper named Cassidy, who, like a wrestler, puts her body on the line every time she takes the stage, and trying to set things right with his estranged daughter.

For a moment, Randy seems to be adjusting to life after wrestling pretty well when his plans were pushing through. However, the pull of being "The Ram" prevents him from living a life he longed for. A scene where he took drugs, fucked with a complete stranger, and woke up the next morning in an unknown apartment is a telling sign that he still clings to his past as the Main Event guy who sold out arenas with his memorable matches. He parties hard, only to hit hard on reality when Cassidy treats him as nothing more than a customer, severing any mutual ties between them. Most importantly, Randy missed out on a dinner she was supposed to have with her daughter, which was the only chance of absolution for the mistakes he has done in the past to his family.

There was nothing else left for Randy to do but return to the ring and carry on with his match against Ayatollah, celebrating the 20th year since the historic match took place. Just as he was about to make his entrance to the ring, Cassidy appears and dissuades Randy from getting hurt out there and putting his life in danger once again. Randy replies by saying that the only place he gets hurt is out there, pointing to nowhere, to reality. Because he is a nobody without his tights, elbow pads, and boot. In the ring, he is someone everybody respects and loves. The ring is his home, and Cassidy leaving behind the curtain before delivering his patented Ram Jam off the top rope reiterates this fact. He soars, and the film slowly fades.

WWE owner Vince McMahon was given a special showing of the film and he didn't appreciate it one bit. I wouldn't say that he had his head up his ass, but the film does expose the risks involved in being a professional wrestler. The depressing ending can be seen that wrestling is a downward spiral towards an empty life outside the squared circle, which is not good for a business that thrived in putting its employee's asses on the line. Suffice to say, his negative feelings towards the film is warranted. However, since I don't own a wrestling company, I politely say, "Screw you, McMahon."

Another thing, the ending song of The Wrestler where Bruce Springsteen sings about one-trick ponies, referring to "The Ram," is downright offensive to those who those people involved in the business. First off, WRESTLERS ARE NOT ONE-TRICK PONIES! The great ones persevere and sustain the status they achieved during their heydays because the fans love them. The things they have done in the ring will be passed from generation to generation and their legacies will live on forever. So fuck one-trick ponies. 4-Non Blondes is a one-trick pony. James Frey is a one-trick pony/fraud. Up theirs.

Last, wrestling is lame. Yes, I said it. It is a sport where the moves are planned and the ending is pre-meditated. But the beauty about it is that it's realer than you think. The blood is real. The chance of failure is definitely high. An early death is never out of the question. Wrestlers are people, and they are real.

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