Outside of the documentaries Hitman Hart: Wrestling with Shadows, The Unreal Story of Professional Wrestling and Beyond the Mat, it's taken years for a serious minded look behind the scenes at the art of professional wrestling to hit the silver screen. While the pre-planned storylines but very real contact sport of professional wrestling finally had it's day with Darren Aronofsky's hard and heavy drama The Wrestler, until that day wrestling fans and the performers themselves kept getting stuck with movies like the one I'm about to tell you about: Queens of the Ring. Billed as among the first officially WWE financed films to depict the training aspect of professional wrestling as opposed to only giving viewers the coup de grace per usual, this French (hastily redubbed in English) comedy concerning four women working in the local supermarket turned female wrestling sensations feels less like Vince McMahon and more like the bastard stepchild of Hallmark and Lifetime movies years past their shelf life. What could have been a charmingly funny behind-the-scenes gander at the Diva side of wrestling, replete with cameos by The Miz, CM Punk and Eve Torres, instead is a stillborn dud that is over before it even tries to get off the ground. Despite vain efforts to insert snippets of pop tunes on the soundtrack in between unfunny rom com gags that are as sexist as they are racist, not since the direct-to-video drama Louder Than Words have I laid eyes on a film this dead on arrival.
That's not to say you couldn't have made a solid, interesting and even funny movie about female wrestlers or shown the arduous training female wrestlers undergo behind closed doors. In fact I'm sure it can and will be made one day. Unfortunately, Queens of the Ring isn't just an insult to the art of professional wrestling but it even manages to talk down to average moviegoers looking for a story with something resembling a beginning, middle and end. The story of a mother with a violent past and estranged son trying to rekindle her relations with him by appealing to his penchant for wrestling has the groundwork for dramatic power, but Queens of the Ring rushes so fast through the broadly drawn stereotypes standing in for fully realized characters that you neither know nor care about what you're watching this movie. I can name a litany of some of the worst story threads in Vince McMahon's career that were far more compelling than this half-hearted junk. Despite being relatively well shot with okay acting for the most part, there's barely a story here populated by paper cut outs resembling flesh and blood human beings. Then there's the tasteless humor which dares to crack jokes such as the one where a redheaded wrestler muses how she never made it with a black guy when it isn't taking a dump on Mexicans by equating them with tacos. I also got the impression this film was aimed at juvenile audiences which made for a moment of the four wrestling trainees sharing the shower topless stick out like a sore thumb. Maybe things are different in Europe, but I'd be hard pressed to think this would have flown in America as family entertainment.
I've been an avid consumer of wrestling, wrestling films and films about wrestling since I was a teenager and I still enjoy it even now. No WWE Films aren't aiming for highbrow cinema or anything like that but generally they've been able to produce fairly entertaining check-your-brain-at-the-door theatrical features you can still enjoy with a group of friends and some brewskies. No Holds Barred is still ridiculous fun and I even recently picked up a copy of See No Evil featuring Kane. Queens of the Ring was so painfully boring, so unfunny and so devoid of an engaging story with characters you can remotely begin to care about that I kept checking my watch begging for this turgid and insipid thing to be over. Even watching in the original French language with English subtitles instead of that really awful English dub I could only take a few minutes of, Queens of the Ring is easily one of the worst "movies" this cinephile and admitted wrestling fanatic has seen since I began writing for The Movie Sleuth. While WWE Films might be among the many new film companies of our generation working from the impetus so infamously purported by Menahem Golan and Yorum Globus, Queens of the Ring is the kind of movie not even the Go-Go Boys would have wanted any part of.
- Andrew Kotwicki