Sunday, March 29, 2015

“Wrestling With Satan: The Rise, Fall, And Resurrection of the Christian Wrestling Federation” DVD (directors: Paul Aldridge and Tom Borden)

Odd fringe subculture

From the title, you might be tempted to see this as some kind of B-grade comedy, as something so bizarre and unlikely as a marriage between the brute spectacle of pro wrestling and organized religion seems so…very silly. And, to be honest, it is. Seriously. But this union does often have a similarly devoted audience, so a crossover isn’t necessarily so outlandish.

This is a documentary film, make no mistake, and there are a fair amount of genuine fans of this stuff. It’s all obviously a fringe emulation of mainstream pro wrestling, and these guys are capable of pulling off the same kind of stunts, body slams, and smack talking as the “big boys”. But there’s a message in this here rasslin’ — it’s putting Jesus back in the ring and defeating “Satan”. Yes, for their audiences (often in gymnasiums and lawn chairs), these wrestlers are role models for rural American youth, and the message they preach is to be strong with Jesus. I still don’t see much correlation between big sweaty cartoon-men putting on theatrical shows of brute force and the spreading of the gospel, but, apparently some do.

Yes, this is a weird one. I say, kudos to the filmmakers for showing another side of America’s hidden underbelly. These characters seem to mean well, and are sincere in their love of the wrestling “sport”, but that doesn’t mean I’d ever want to meet any of them. Hah! Enough said.

Morning Lamb Entertainment

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