Ladies and Gentlemen, Children of all ages, Blessed of Kong be thee.
The Lord of the Monkeys is here tonight to speak to you about a new film he has just seen. That film is “The Wrestler”, starring Mickey Rourke.
Now, perhaps some background is needed to understand my perspective in this article. The Lord of the Monkeys… well, when he was growing up, wrestling was the common link between himself and his grandfather. We’d go through the TV Guide every week, highlighting every single WWF (and eventually WCW as well, when we moved away from NYC, where Vince McMahon had a stranglehold on the media) event per week, and make sure we planned to watch them. It was how I bonded with him. And later, when I grew older, it was how he bonded with my younger brother. And today, almost ten years after he passed away… it’s how I bond with my brother. Together, we watch wrestling every Monday night, and discuss a wide variety of ideas, and booking scenarios, and every time we do so… neither one of us will ever admit it publicly, but we both know our grandfather is listening with a smile on his face.
Now, on to the topic at hand. Darren Aronofsky’s “The Wrestler”. Mickey Rourke plays Randy “The Ram” Robinson, a man who once upon a time was on top of the wrestling world. Sadly, as is ineveitable, time has marched on. Wrestling’s greatest star is now headlining shows in high school gymnasiums. He hasn’t spoken to his daughter in many many years, and in fact, his closest human contact these days is a stripper he flirts with (Marissa Tomei), and the children who live in his trailer park!
Randy, like many of us do, stumbles through the wake-a-day world, fumbling and groping for some semblance of life. But it is only in the fleeting weekend experiences, the part time shows when he still performs in front of a crowd, when he truly feels alive.
Watching the film, it’s not hard to pick out specific wrestlers the character is based on. There’s a definite Hulk Hogan vibe, as he remembers his first great victory over the Ayatollah, paralleling Hogan’s first WWF title win over the Iron Sheik in 1981. There’s a very strong sense of Terry Funk, in that Randy is willing to keep on going, even past the point where it makes any SENSE for him, if he wants to live a bearable life. It’s very obvious that Randy has what WWF Hall Of Famer Rowdy Roddy Piper has termed “The Sickness”: That being, the allure of the crowd gets into your blood, and you can never walk away, no matter what it means to your health or wellbeing.
But most obviously, there is one man this move struck me as reminiscent of. Some of you may have seen the documentary “BEYOND THE MAT”. If you did, you know where I’m going with this. “The Wrestler” is the single best telling of “The Jake The Snake Roberts Story” I’ve ever even considered. It’s masterful, it’s honest, and it pulls no punches.
“The Wrestler” is not the greatest film of the year. It’s not even the greatest film of the last four months. But it IS a great film, and one which should be seen by anyone who’se ever felt that life passed them by.