The Main Event (2020)
Once again, I’ve decided to review a movie that I am not exactly the key demographic for. Not only am I, regrettably, not a child anymore, but I also have very little experience or interest in wrestling. I’ve seen Max Landis’ Wrestling Isn’t Wrestling (2015) and I’ve watched two wrestling matches. In one, which was a heavyweight championship, a random wrestling fan ran into the ring while the two wrestlers were at their weakest, and knocked them both down. Then they ran away with the championship. It was wild. I get the appeal. I still don’t have the energy to watch it.
If I learnt anything from Wrestling Isn’t Wrestling (2015) it’s that wrestling isn’t wrestling… Funny that… So when I saw the trailer for The Main Event (2020) and saw that it’s about a boy who finds a magical Mexican wrestling mask that grants him all of the powers of a professional wrestler, I was super confused. Like, even if it gave you super speed and super strength, wrestling is more like a dance, where they use choreographed moves and guide each other to achieve death defying stunts. It took me a while to realise that the movie isn’t based in our world; it’s based in the fictional world of professional wrestling, where professional wrestling is a real athletic sport, rather than a melodramatic show about a fictional sport.
Pictured: It took a fart shockwave to make me understand.
What we get instead is what would genuinely be a hilarious story in a real wrestling show. A masked child comes out, and no one acts like it’s weird that it’s a child; they just accept that yeah, that is a child and he’s going to go up against this mountain. Makes sense... And then this child is doing sick moves and kicking arse, only for him to remove his mask in the final match to reveal that, shock horror, he is a child! This isn’t allowed! But once a match is started, it must go on! So now a mountain has to completely destroy an 11-year-old boy, or the 11-year-old boy has to outsmart him, win the championship, and then admit that he can’t sign on to WWE because he’s a Goddamn child. I would watch the hell out that!
If it was in wrestling.
As a movie, eh… it’s kinda bland. It’s like every 80s movie where they need to do some dumb thing to earn the exact amount of money to save the whatever needs saving, and at the same time, they let the success go to their head and ignore the ones that helped them get there in the first place. You’ve seen it before. We’ve all seen it before.
Both WWE and Netflix are known for their relatively low budget original movies, so when you put the two together, you’ll be damned sure that it’s gonna look twice as low budget as any of their previous work.
I don’t think anyone was expecting amazing artistic work, but even with low expectations, it came off very lacklustre. It looks very made-for-tv-esque, which, personally, is the worst kind of bad. It does feature possibly the worst version of the Quicksilver scene from X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014), which is so bad that it took me a while to even realise whether it was super speed or not.
Most of the adult actors are just having fun, and they’re not distracting. Adam Pally is always great, even when he’s playing an emotionally stunted distant father. Tichina Arnold plays a wrestling-loving grandma who is a delight, if not a little bit forced. Ken Marino is Ken Marino and why else would you get him, really?
I hate the punch down, but all of the child actors seem off. It could be the script, or it could be pre-pubescence, but none of them are convincing. If it weren’t for already seeing great acting from shows like Stranger Things, I would say it’s just the age... but we’ve seen that age act like real people, so I dunno.
On the other hand, the wrestling really is great. It's generally very short and frankly, everything in GLOW (2017- ) is better, but it’s still very impressive and entertaining. The stuff with Kid Chaos is obviously CGI at times, but there were at least three moments when I was genuinely impressed.
So they just drop the fact that his mum left his dad for another man and straight up, whoosh, went to New York and never called. They literally drop it on you, halfway through the movie. I thought she was dead, but they’re like, “nope, and the kid is never gonna know,” which in itself means they never officially divorced. It’s crazy! And her mum is the one looking after him for the most part, because Adam Pally now has to work as a #Lyft driver and a mechanic and is never sleeping and doesn’t have time to watch wrestling with his son anymore. It sucks that they never actually let the kid know, but it’s still some heavy stuff to unpack in a kids movie. Like Andy in Toy Story (1995). His dad definitely left, right? But they never tell you, they just let nerds on the internet obsess over details and realise that he’s missing a father figure and that’s why he’s so attached to such hyper-masculine toys. They don't just drop it in your lap and hope you can deal with Adam Pally's emotional trauma before he can.
Pictured: The confused face of a child of divorce
Also, you know, standard kids' movie affair: don’t let fame go to your head. It’s all real standard. Also, he joins the sport, wrestling, at the end... but that's not Wrestling. What's the lesson there?
Again, I am not the target audience, so I feel bad dunking on this movie, but it’s not great. I genuinely think they should have just done this sort of thing in a storyline on WWE, but I totally understand that they needed CGI to sell his super powers. There are a few jokes that hit pretty well, even if my favourite joke undercut a nice poignant moment.
If you’ve got kids who like wrestling, this is not a bad film to sit them in front of because it’s weird when the WWE on television has no crowds. Wrestling is a pop-culture blindspot for me, so meh. I know there were a lot of references that went completely over my head, but only because I caught a few of them from my other pop-culture circles. I don’t know why this 11-year-old kid has seen They Live (1988) with famous wrestler Rowdy Roddy Piper to know the line, "I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass...and I'm all out of bubblegum,” but I’m glad he did so that I had something to understand.