It’s easy to make fun of the guys in this movie who are making $20 a show struggling to matter as pro wrestlers, much less grapplers for God. Except, well, I know one of them. I trained at the Dory Funk Jr. dojo with Jason Jett, one of the main characters in this, and he’s a forthright guy who was a solid hand in the ring and good at putting a match together.
This movie makes me admit the real truth of wrestling. The biggest marks aren’t those in the seats, but in the ring. Most of never realize that we will never get anywhere. We’d never work this hard at any other job for this much money or this little respect.
So when I hear Rob Vaughn — the guy who is the top star and owner of the Christian Wrestling Federation — saying that changes are coming or hurdles need to be cleared but the big time is close, I’ve heard this same story with a slightly different script but the same overall meaning so many times that it kind of made my heart hurt a bit. That’s because I was only talked to about money and heart and how much better it was with the old crew and didn’t have to deal with the neverending war between the forces of Satan and God for my wrestling soul.
Seriously: everything bad that happens to the CWF is Satan’s fault. Trust me, Satan loves wrestling, even when guys that start off as untrained backyard wrestlers happen upon a great gimmick and start using God as the ultimate program.
There are some really interesting moments here, like where the wrestler Apocalpyse talks about his wife leaving him in the hospital as he lies there as a potential quadroplegic or when the others all discuss Rob’s indiscretions. I nearly wanted to yell at the scren that these moments deserved more of a follow-up than nearly all of the movie.
By the way, if you’re shocked by the amount of religious and diversity intolerance in this movie, let me remind you that this is a movie about religious pro wrestlers. That said, I’ve met all manner of guys in the wrestling game that have political and sexual affiliations all over the place. These would not be those people.
I used to wrestle on shows with a guy who was a preacher and he’d always yell at me about my gimmick, which is pretty much me being a1970’s occult bad guy from a horror movie. I patiently listened and then asked, “What good is having only good people in wrestling if there isn’t someone like me to give you a foil to glorify God against?”
He didn’t have an answer.