Saraya Jade Bevis—er, Brittany. No, sorry, Paige, screamed her way into the hearts of the WWE Universe in 2012, and she’s lived there ever since. Fighting with My Family is her story. Or, at least, it’s a Hollywood version of the beginning of it. Liberties aside, the film keeps things pretty close to honest. If you stay through the credits, you’ll even see some of the original clips that inspired scenes in the movie.
In following the story of Paige (Florence Pugh) and her brother Zak’s (Jack Lowden) journey to join the WWE, Fighting with My Family writes a love letter to the craft of wrestling. To the folks who just rolled their eyes and thought something along the lines of “Pfft, ‘craft’!? It’s fake!”, there’s more than a couple scenes to help illustrate that being scripted and being fake aren’t anywhere near mutually exclusive. We see you and your impassioned speech, Vince Vaughn.
While it’s unmistakably a movie for wrestling fans, Stephen Merchant made a film that doesn’t require viewers to have wrestling knowledge to have fun. There’s a cameo here and there that might not hit home if you’re not checking out Monday Night RAW or SmackDown Live every once in a while, but outside of that, it’s got a little something for everyone.
I’ve watched wrestling for over a decade now, but I didn’t start really watching until the Women’s Revolution kicked off back in 2016. To keep a long story as short as possible: WWE didn’t always treat its women great. It’s still learning, but the progress we’ve seen over the last three years has been astounding. In seeing the trailers, a part of me was a little worried that we were going to have the stereotypical outcast vs. blonde bitches story trope, but Fighting with My Family does the Women’s Evolution proud.
Paige does have a moment where she calls out the other girls, but it ends up being because of her bias, not theirs. When Paige joined the WWE (which, reminder, was not long ago), not a lot of the women they signed were wrestlers. The thing is, not growing up in a wrestling ring doesn’t make those women lesser Superstars, it just meant they had to work a lot harder. The Women’s Evolution happened because of all sorts of women of every shape, size, color and orientation. It’s wonderful to see the movie nod to that, and even better that it still matters to those who have never watched a WWE match in their lives.
Fighting with My Family has the jokes you expect out of a Stephen Merchant film, as well. There are more than a few laughs, and it pokes fun at the WWE and wrestling where appropriate. It’s an entertaining ride from start to finish (even for those of you who ugly cried a couple of times, like me), and it shows all of the heart behind something like wrestling. Folks will always laugh at the sport, and sometimes for good reason, but getting a good look at some of the people who dedicate their lives to it is lovely. The fact that it’s a pretty fun watch is even better.