“This is my house” is the catchphrase that introduced Paige to the WWE Universe. Fighting With My Family is the biopic that introduced her to the rest of the world. Produced by legendary WWE Superstar, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, the sports-comedy biopic follows the life of Saraya “Paige” Bevis and her journey from a wrestling family to winning the WWE Divas Championship in 2014. The film is directed and written by The Office co-creator Stephen Merchant, and stars Florence Pugh, Jack Lowden, Vince Vaughn, Nick Frost, Lena Headey, and Dwayne Johnson.
Going into this one I wasn’t sure of what to expect. As someone who doesn’t really care for The Office but has watched wrasslin’ (wrestling) over the years, I wasn’t sure if Stephen Merchant would be able to pull this one off. Luckily, the Englishman came through with a solid job at telling a true story in a humorous way. The direction is smooth and early on there’s a lot of camera movement that intertwines with the film’s theme.
Saraya “Paige” Bevis (Florence Pugh) was raised in a wrestling family. Her parents, Patrick “Rowdy Ricky Knight” Bevis (Nick Frost) and Julia “Sweet Saraya” Bevis (Lena Headey) were wrestlers and they were living the gimmick so to speak. I mean Paige’s actual first name is Saraya, the same name as her mother’s ring name. Paige’s brothers are also wrestlers, Zak “Zodiac” Bevis and her half-brother Roy Knight (James Burrows). The relationship that Paige has with her family members is what makes Fighting With My Family one of the best wrestling movies to hit the big screen in a while. Paige is the only member of her family to make it to the grandest stage of them all in the WWE, and watching how members of her family dealt with that created a compelling film.
The Bevis family is filled with interesting details that make you interested in their roles in the film. Ricky Bevis is the patriarch of the family. Along with his wife, they founded the World Association Wrestling promotion after his stint in jail. There’s a powerful line in the film where Ricky states that most people find God in jail but he found wrestling. The dedication to the sport didn’t stop there. His eldest son is Roy Knight and after spending time in jail he also wrestled and later formed a tag team with Zak. The dynamic between Zak and Paige is where the movie’s storytelling is at its best. Zak is a couple of years older than Paige and his dream was to become a WWE Superstar; unfortunately when he and his sister have a tryout, WWE scout Hutch Morgan (Vince Vaughn) chooses Paige, and Zak is left to stay behind in Greenwich, Norfolk.
The writing and the acting in the film is superb. Florence Pugh does a stellar job as Paige. She brings the charm, the wit, and the attitude that Paige is known for throughout her short WWE career. Nick Frost and Lena Headey were hilarious as Paige’s parents. Early on we recognised that Paige’s mom was somewhat of a wildcard. Paige even had to ask if her mom had tried heroin, cocaine and crack combined after she made a facetious statement. Dwayne Johnson plays himself and he’s hilarious. If you were a fan of The Rock growing up then I would recommend checking this film out because he Layeth the Smackethdown every scene he is in. Vince Vaughn, who I haven’t seen in anything in years, was fine as Hutch Morgan. He pretty much played Vince Vaughn. Thea “Zelina Vega” Trinidad did her best AJ Lee impression when Paige beat her for the Divas championship. They recreated the match and it nearly made a perfect duplicate, sans the ring gear on both women.
For wrestling fans, there’s a lot of Easter eggs this film has in it that I enjoyed. When Paige and her brother met The Rock they told him that they were fans of his back when he had hair. Jeri-Lyn is the name of one of the girls in NXT that is somewhat of a rival to Paige. During a scene in NXT where one of the competitors keeps botching her moves, Paige gives her a receipt. Vince Vaughn’s Hutch Morgan is known as a journeyman, who is more commonly known in wrestling jargon as a jabroni or a jobber. The Rock calls him Sextape. Paige asked why did he call Hutch Morgan Sextape? The Rock replies because Hutch can make anyone famous. For those that do not know, Paige was hacked a couple of years ago and her sextape was leaked, so that reference could’ve been left on the cutting room floor. Outside of Zelina Vega, other WWE Superstars that make a cameo include The Miz, Sheamus and The Big Show. Tessa Blanchard did some of the in-ring stunts for Florence Pugh. There’s a bootleg Pete Dunne featured at Paige and her brother’s tryout.
Fighting With My Family is one of the best movies about pro-wrestling that has hit the big screen in a decade. It’s a shame that Paige had to retire at such a young age because she’s charismatic and was a star. By the time she was 20 she accomplished more than most, and now at the age of 26 she already has a film based upon her life which is even more impressive. Salute to Dwayne Johnson for producing this film and getting it told on the big screen. The cast was perfect and elevated the story to create an engaging experience. Like the subject of the film, Florence Pugh is young and after her performance in this film she might be in contention next award season. Fighting With My Family is a good film overall and if you’re looking to watch a fun family comedy this weekend then check this one out.
[All Mames Wey]
Fighting with My Family was released in theaters February 14, 2019.
Bonus: Below is the 2012 documentary that inspired the film.