Summary: The unlikely ascension of an 18-year old in the world’s biggest wrestling promotion.
Come on, it’s a wrestling movie. You knew I’d go to see this.
Long story short: Back in the 2000’s we had a quick surge of women’s wrestling, maybe from 2002 to 2007, where the company had several women who were more than capable of handling themselves in the ring. Then they got ahead of themselves, hired a bunch of gorgeous model types and attempted to teach them how to wrestle (failed miserably) and women’s wrestling was mostly known for somewhat athletic women in revealing ring gear that were nicer to look at than to watch.
Then, in 2014, a 21-year old named Paige (real life name: Saraya Bevis) blew the door wide open and raised the bar for women and what was expected of them in the ring. Born and raised in a wrestling family that ran their own promotion, Bevis knew nothing else except wrestling. She was picked up out of Norwich and offered a developmental contract at the age of 18, one of those “discovery” stories that we sometimes hear about and quickly went on to be one of the most popular women. The company had so much faith in Bevis’ talent and ability that they pinned the championship on her in her television debut. Fast forward to now, the women in WWE are now considered their top tier talent.
Fighting with My Family is a fictionalized version of this, going from when Bevis got signed to that night she became the face of the women. It’s slightly fictionalized, but like the character of Paige feels when we watch her on TV, it feels very honest and true to who she is, particularly in the events with her family, her brother Zac, and her insecurity as a young woman in an extremely demanding environment for women.
Aside from its very straightforward presentation, I have slight issues with how the wrestling is skimmed which ties into where else I think I find lacking in the movie- it’s the same issue with Glow, where I think there’s not enough about wrestling that’s explained, particularly in the technique and how matches are called. (I do appreciate the explanations of some of the terms for the nonwrestling fans.) If I saw this as someone with no knowledge of sports entertainment, I’m not sure I’d walk away educated with how much works goes into it or how a match is constructed. That being said, this side of Bevis- her skill, her brain, her athleticism, and her overall natural ability- isn’t emphasized nearly enough. And that’s something that wrestling movies produced by wrestling companies will never reveal because it’s their product and they don’t want to give away their secrets or brand.
Back to the skill of Bevis, I get it- like the WWE right now, it’s a family friendly product and inspirational to young women, but as a woman who grew up longing to see different representations in the ring, it would have been so satisfying to see the hurdles in entertainment, the company, and overall the world’s view of women, overcome in order to get to where the women in sports entertainment are today. I want a documentary on this and the Women’s Revolution. I wish they had gone into just how good she really is and what she did for other women- and I hope this movie sparks further interest into what she offered and that she racks up a million views on Youtube. Thank you, Paige. Thank you, Saraya.