So I just finished watching The Wrestler (I know this has nothing to do with anime, but I still like to talk about my western movies as people probably already know so please hear my out) on my cable services On Demand feature and I realize that I’m about a year too late for this, but this movie was so strong that I felt I still had to say a few words regardless. Here is what it basically all came down to for me in the end. Randy “The Ram”, while his career may be one of the most fake and showy of them all, comes across as one of the few honest people in this movie, while everyone else in the “real world” comes across as fake or unrelenting to an extent. I remember thinking early on in the movie as I saw The Ram and his opponents doing there thing in the ring that this profession is brutal and almost masochistic, but then I came to notice that after the match they were clearly all comrades and professionals who had nothing but the most honest and heartfelt respect for each other at the end of the day. They were able to leave the profession in the ring when they hit that dressing room and support each other and be the best of friends, but the people in the “real world” as we came to see refused to leave their work where it belonged and ended up being far more brutal on The Ram in his civilian life than anything he endured as a pro wrestler. Hard to believe, but consider this:
Once The Ram has his heart attack and is forced to step outside the ring and in to real life, he faces his toughest battle of all, something he has never prepared for since he has trained himself to resist physical punishment, but not the punishment of rejection and an emotional beating and rejection. He knows he’s past his prime, that he’s lived his best years, but he’s not ready for real life even though he might think he can take on anything. Thankfully the movie lets him down a little slow before delivering the pin. First he finds himself proven to be out of date and no longer cool by the kids in the park. He invites one of them in to play Nintendo (yes the original) and even plays a wrestling game that features himself in his prime, but is only greated with the fact that “this game is so old, ever hear of Call of Duty 4?” by the kid who he in fact manages to beat (but not really) at the game with his own signature move that he hasn’t done in ages. The Ram has no clue and wants to play with the kid more, but the kid doesn’t feel The Ram is worth his time and leaves him. This is nothing though compared to what’s to come.
The Ram then tries to forge a relationship with a stripper named Cassidy (played by Marisa Tomei) who he thinks he has something in common with, but she’s really just all about the profession and is only trying to play him into giving her more money. I came to loathe this character for her insincerity as The Ram was clearly going through the hardest time of his life and she was only interested in making him into a long term customer. Meanwhile The Ram realizing that this may be his last chance to spend time with his family tries to spend time with his daughter, but she wants none of it so he and Cassidy through a series of talks end up going to look for a present for her. Things looks pretty good as The Ram manages to get a job and even manges to give his daughter the present and get a little bit back on her goodside, and here I have to digress a little bit, because this is where the movies point really starts to hit home.
In a nutshell, I wanted so badly to reach through my screen and just slam that manager character into a wall. This guy is just the biggest possible jerk in a can middle management loser bully that you could possibly imagine as we are introduced to The Ram trying to get a job and him just being pointlessly nasty to him in return (who cares if he didn’t knock, you aren’t god, just let him in and give him his interview, it’s a supermarket!) and forcing him to work the Deli as his only option. Now I don’t know if any of you folks have ever worked the deli at a supermarket, but I have friends who have and I can safely say that from what they tell me (and I trust my friends word) it is pure hell. Imagine the worlds most hurried and impatient people as the movie portrays and that’s pretty much what it comes down too. The scene where he first approaches the entrance to the deli and you here all the people cheering him The Ram thinks he’s about to enter the ring to thunderous applause, but is only met with silence but for the demands of the customers is definitely the point where the viewer comes to realize that The Ram has just entered one of his toughest matches ever.
The wrestlers were his buddies, but all these people want is meat, and even though The Ram tries to put on a jovial personality and have fun, the people won’t let him. The match goes worse as he finds out that Cassidy really has no interest in him beyond his profession. I loved how he dealt with it appropriately though IMO. If she doesn’t want to keep it real, then he’ll play it her way, and he offers to give her money for a dance, which of course results in a fight and him walking out. Hey though, he’s just done what he’s done the whole movie and kept it honest. However, he forgets the date with his daughter and instead ends up spending the night with another stripper to get what happened with Cassidy off his mind, and this is where The Ram suffers his most brutal beating of his entire life. Never mind the ring, but as we see him try to make it up to his daughter and she says she wants him out of his life, that is The Rams three count/submission/tap out/soul crushing defeat/whatever you want to call it, that he can’t recover from. The heartattack no longer means anything to him, he comes to realize that what we think of as life is far more brutal a match then he can handle, and so he does the only logical thing that he can with his limited ability and experience, he quits his job, puts it in the asshole managers face (YES!) and goes back to take on the promotion that he’d been offered by his oldest rival and true friend “The Ayatollah”.
They didn’t even really need to spell it out for us as Cassidy realize what she’s lost goes to his match to try get him back. The Ram in his honesty who has no reason to trust the outside world any longer just rejects it to go back to his proper place in the ring with someone he ironically can trust, “The Ayatollah”. Life is too much for a broken up old piece of meat, as he puts it in what can be interpreted as a bit of a stating of the obvious of the movies point.
I just want to say to you all tonight I’m very grateful to be here. A lot of people told me that I’d never wrestle again and that’s all I do. You know, if you live hard and play hard and you burn the candle at both ends, you pay the price for it. You know in this life you can loose everything you love, everything that loves you. Now I don’t hear as good as I used to and I forget stuff and I aint as pretty as I used to be but god damn it I’m still standing here and I’m The Ram. As times goes by, as times goes by, they say “he’s washed up”, “he’s finished” , “he’s a loser”, “he’s all through”. You know what? The only one that’s going to tell me when I’m through doing my thing is you people here.
And so the movie hits it’s climax as The Ram and The Ayatollah go at it one last time, and even as The Rams heart starts acting up and The Ayatollah wants to call it off and we the audience start to hopefully worry about his condition, we at the same time realize that this is what is best for him, and that as he climbs those ropes to pull of his signature move “Ram Jam”, that even as the movie cuts off, The Ram has done it whether he lives or dies, he has reclaimed the life that is right for him, and found his own personal solace in the ring once again.
The movie makes you think a little about what we sometimes take for granted and gives a little bit of a behind the scenes look at what the wrestlers of our day potentially could be facing. I think it points out what we really ought to try and recognize, that even though these wrestlers are showmen and look like animals as they take punishment for the sake of our entertainment, that there are still people behind the character, who still have families, who still have feelings, and who still deserve to be treated with some respect that extends beyond the ring cheers and jeers for their characters. Obviously we need to and in fact are given reason to recognize that The Ram isn’t perfect, and if the movie had shown it (which is the one thing I wish it had done a little) I’m sure we would have seen a bit of a jerk who wasn’t there to support his family in his prime during the 80’s and maybe he deserves a bit or more of what comes to him in his daughters final rejection, but IMO and as the movie makes me feel as well, people deserve a second or even third chance and it should be granted to them instead of them being forced to find an alternative that may not be in their best interests.
This movie was a tough watch, but still a great one, and I’d definitely recommend people watch it and try to form their own opinions on it. Man I love it when a movie lives up to the hype and praise for change.
Favourite Dialogue Line:
Randy ‘The Ram’ Robinson: Goddamn they don’t make em’ like they used to.
Cassidy: Fuckin’ 80’s man, best shit ever !
Randy ‘The Ram’ Robinson: Bet’chr ass man, Guns N’ Roses! Rules.
Randy ‘The Ram’ Robinson: Yeah!
Cassidy: Def Lep!
Randy ‘The Ram’ Robinson: Then that Cobain pussy had to come around & ruin it all.
Cassidy: Like theres something wrong with just wanting to have a good time?
Randy ‘The Ram’ Robinson: I’ll tell you somethin’, I hate the fuckin’ 90’s.
Cassidy: Fuckin’ 90’s sucked.
Randy ‘The Ram’ Robinson: Fuckin’ 90’s sucked.