The last month has been a wild time to be a professional wrestling fan, with a paradigm shift happening in the world of All Elite Wrestling (AEW) and WWE. Wrestling has long held a place in pop culture, but has only recently blown up again thanks to names like CM Punk, Adam Cole and Bryan Danielson. If you’re less familiar with wrestling, those names won’t mean much, but it’s fair to say wrestling is going through some big changes right now.
This Gizmodo Movie Night, we’re not going to recommend you watch every wrestling show (that would be impossible, frankly) — but we are going to recommend a bunch of TV shows and movies about wrestling you can dive into over the weekend.
From documentaries about the so-called ‘Monday Night Wars’ to fictional adaptations of wrestling’s history, here are all the best wrestling-themed movies and TV shows you should watch.
The Monday Night War: WWE vs. WCW
The Monday Night War: WWE vs. WCW is one of the most important (and relevant) documentaries ever created by WWE, in that it details exactly how the company rose to power and how it ended up ‘defeating’ every other wrestling promotion that threatened it in the 1990s. It’s fascinatingly told and very dense — so if you have even a passing interest in wrestling, it’s a great watch.
It is important to note this TV show is produced by WWE, which means there is some bias in the presentation and detailing of how events unfolded — but it’s still a very rare and entertaining glimpse into the wrestling culture of the 1990s and how it’s changed over the last few decades.
The Monday Night War: WWE vs. WCW is streaming on the WWE Network, a niche streaming service filled with WWE’s entire back catalogue of matches, documentaries and TV shows.
Fighting With My Family
Fighting With My Family is a biographical drama following the life of former WWE wrestler Paige, who went on to become one of the trail-blazing women of the modern WWE era. She’s played by Florence Pugh (Black Widow) in excellent fashion, in a film which features all the wild highs and lows of Paige’s life and her wrestling career.
Add in cameos from some of wrestling’s biggest stars, a story that’s genuinely inspirational and a whole cast putting in great performances, and you’ve got a real winning recipe. Fighting With My Family is a delight, and it tells one of wrestling’s best recent stories. Although Paige’s wrestling career was cut short by injuries, this film is a testament to her legacy and strength.
Fighting With My Family is currently available for purchase on Apple TV.
You Cannot Kill David Arquette
You Cannot Kill David Arquette is a documentary charting the rise and fall of actor David Arquette, who almost tanked his career in the 2000s when he appeared on wrestling promotion WCW and won a championship title. Arquette has a fascinating story, and this film deals with the dire ramifications of becoming one of the ‘most hated’ men in wrestling during a time when wrestling fans were angrier and more passionate than ever.
At its core, You Cannot Kill David Arquette is a brutal look at how wrestling fandom can go wrong, but there’s also a silver lining here, in that Arquette eventually earned the respect of fans by returning in the later 2010s to prove he could actually keep up with ‘the boys’.
You Cannot Kill David Arquette is currently streaming on Stan in Australia.
Heels began airing in August, so it’s one of the newest titles on this list — but it’s already proving to be very fun. In the series, wrestling serves as a backdrop for a sibling rivalry between Ace and Jack Spade, two brothers who grew up in the wrestling industry. It’s a little bit Friday Night Lights and a little bit CW drama, but it’s clearly created with love for the industry.
Even if you don’t like wrestling, Heels is still a great, entertaining show to fill your weekends.
There are also some great cameos, including from CM Punk, who’s having a fantastic time as veteran wrestler Ricky Rabies.
Heels currently airs every Sunday on Stan in Australia.
The Wrestler is a raw film that details the history of fictional wrestler Randy “The Ram” Robinson, who attempts to recapture his glory days in an industry that’s long left him behind. Beyond being a very real look at how wrestling can chew up and spit out older performers, The Wrestler is just an absolutely phenomenal film.
Mickey Rourke’s performance garnered him a heap of praise for good reason, and it almost single-handedly brought his acting career back from the brink. Like other wrestling films, it also features major cameos from indie and mainstream wrestling talent, but it’s the story and action that’ll really hook you.
It’s rare that wrestling is treated with such respect on the big screen, but The Wrestler is a real triumph on all fronts.
The Wrestler is currently streaming on Binge in Australia.
Gizmodo Movie Night is a themed, bi-weekly column recommending the best new films and TV shows for you to watch over the weekend. This week, we focused on wrestling. Stay tuned for what the next instalment will bring!