Movie Review - Fighting With My Family

Hailing from a small town in eastern, England; Norwich born Saraya Bevis (Florence Pugh) was born into a family of wrestlers. Known in the ring as Saraya Knight, along with her brother Zak "Zodiac" Knight (Jack Lowden); the "Knight" family of wrestlers run the World Association of Wrestling (WAW) promotion, which has seen some local success. It's also a much need refuge for local youths who train at the WAW wrestling school. Things change dramatically for the Knight family when international wrestling juggernaut, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) comes to nearby London; which includes a series of tryouts for local talent. Saraya and Zak attend the WWE tryouts putting them both within a beat of life changing super stardom. It's a bittersweet moment for the Knight family as Saraya (later known as Paige in WWE) gets invited to the next round of development in Orlando, Florida; while Zak, along with the rest of the participants don't make the cut. Saraya, alone moves on to Florida to work her way up the ladder of WWE developmental hell, known as NXT. Meanwhile, Zak has a new set of life challenges as well of the burden of seeing his sister love his lifelong dream.

I'm a pretty big wrestling fan and remember vividly, the night Paige debuted on WWE's flagship show 'Monday Night Raw', the night after Wrestlemania 30 in 2014. As a wrestling fan, Fighting With My Family has an unacceptable level of revisionist history to endure. Based on the 2012 documentary The Wrestlers: Fighting With My Family, the 2019 comedy/drama, portrays Saraya's stay in NXT as a grueling series of training exercises that inexplicably lead to wrestling matches. The mental and physical toll of working hundreds of events a year, was truncated into a few progress indicating montages. As WWE is currently in the middle of it's "Women's Revolution" which features women's matches in more prominent positions on tv, Saraya (as Paige) in WWE spearheaded a lot of the momentum for women back in NXT. In reality, Paige managed to do something the movie doesn't seem to grasp about wrestling, however, the fight for equality in WWE is a constant battle against the status quo.

In a way, Fighting With My Family does what it needed to do in crafting a compelling family drama, set in the landscape of pro wrestling. There are a lot of cameos from Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and a few from current WWE superstars, which is a nice surprise. Overall, Fighting With My Family is an inspiring tale of perseverance and great resolve, distorting the harsh realities one faces as a full time wrestler. The film doesn't break any new ground as a sports drama but, like Paige, the film is endearing and with just enough charm that could pique the interest of a non wrestling fan.

Verdict: B+

Rated: PG-13 @ 108 mins

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