Forget music and politics, the weird and wacky world of professional-wrestling should be a prime source of material for Hollywood. A realm filled with larger-than-life characters and true-life stories of incredible triumph, daily sacrifice and unthinkable tragedy.
Ahead of the release of Fighting With My Family, Close-up Culture have picked out 10 pro-wrestling biopics we’d like to see in the coming years.
1. Gorgeous George
Gorgeous George was the man who helped give impetus to Bob Dylan’s career and directly inspired the flamboyant antics of Muhammad Ali and James Brown.
A stylish filmmaker and talented costume designer would be required to do justice to this transcendent professional-wrestling figure.
2. Bret Hart
Bret Hart is undoubtedly one of the greatest professional wrestlers to have ever lived, but his career will always be under the shadow of tragedy and controversy.
Born into a wrestling family, Bret overcame a size disadvantage to become a multiple time WWF (World Wrestling Federation, now the WWE) champion and a beloved Canadian hero. An inspirational underdog story that would be turned into a nightmare by the infamous ‘Montreal Screwjob’ and the untimely death of his brother Owen.
Although a number of documentaries have already told Bret’s story, the Calgary-born wrestler’s life has all the emotional beats for a compelling biopic.
3. Bobo Brazil
With a career spanning four decades, Bobo Brazil is one of the pioneering African American performers in professional-wrestling.
Breaking into the industry in 1951, Brazil (real name Houston Harris) climbed his way up the professional wrestling ladder to earn matches against stars such as The Sheik, Killer Kowalski and Bruno Sammartino. It was a remarkable and crowd-pleasing run that would make for an inspirational biopic.
4. Dynamite Kid
Dynamite Kid, a peer of Bret Hart, should be on the radar of any British filmmaker looking for a complex biopic subject.
An incredible athlete and innovator of his craft, Dynamite Kid rose from working-class Wigan to wow audiences across the world despite being considered ‘small’ by industry standards. Most notably, he is remembered for a legendary series of matches with Tiger Mask in Japan and a popular tag team with fellow-Brit Davey Boy Smith.
Yet for all of Dynamite’s achievements, his attitude and behaviour outside of the ring made him a real-life villain. Cruel pranks, drug abuse and mean spiritedness that ultimately meant many figures in the industry had little sympathy for Dynamite when his body began to fail him.
Dynamite Kid (real name Tom Billington) is an under-appreciated British entertainer whose story needs to be told on the big-screen.
5. Mildred Burke
From office stenographer to formidable wrestler, Mildred Burke’s story is nothing short of remarkable.
The Kansas-born performer wrestled over 200 men in the 1930s – only losing to one – and held the NWA (National Wrestling Alliance) for nearly two decades. Yet despite her dominance, Burke still had to endure discrimination and bitter disputes with womanising ex-husband Billy Wolfe.
Burke has one of the most empowering stories in all of sports and entertainment. It would be bordering upon irresponsible not to share it with wider audiences on the big-screen.
6. Ric Flair
This limousine-ridin’, jet-flyin’, kiss stealin’, wheelin’ dealin’, son-of-a-gun has lived a life that would rival the excesses found in The Wolf Of Wall Street.
Ric Flair’s incredible wrestling career, wild partying and later life tragedies would make for a rollercoaster experience. It would, however, be difficult to find an actor capable of capturing the Nature Boy’s charisma.
7. Hulk Hogan
The Hulk Hogan story has taken a dark turn in recent years. Divorce, high-profile lawsuits and deeply troubling racist marks have put a new tint on this once-beloved American iconic.
Any biopic about the ‘Hulkster’ would now be about his fall from giant-slamming heights to tarnished caricature lows. It could be an interesting study of public personas and American heroes.
8. Chris Benoit
Chris Benoit, who heavily drew inspiration from the Dynamite Kid, is the most taboo figure in the industry.
The Canadian-born performer rose to prominence with his intense work-rate and hard-hitting style, eventually earning a contract with the WWE in 2000. Benoit, nicknamed ‘The Rabid Wolverine’ in WWE, would then go on to defy all expectations and lift the World Heavyweight title at WrestleMania XX.
Sadly, there would be a horrifically tragic ending to Benoit’s career and life. Suffering from severe brain trauma and a multitude of other issues, Benoit killed his wife, Nancy, and their 7-year-old son, Daniel, before committing suicide.
Benoit’s story will surely be told in the coming years. A brave filmmaker will be needed to handle this disturbing subject matter, but there are a lot of important questions to be brought forward if the biopic is done correctly.
9. Bruno Sammartino
Bruno Sammartino did not have the shirt-ripping charisma of Hogan or the wild lifestyle of Flair, but that does not diminish his awe-inspiring life story in any way.
While growing up in Italy during World War II, Bruno’s mother hid him and his siblings from German soldiers in the mountain of Valla Rocca. By 1950, Bruno and his family had immigrated to the US where the youngster took up bodybuilding to combat bullies at school. A choice that would one day help lead Bruno to pro-wrestling.
Bruno went on to become a record-breaking WWWF (World Wide Wrestling Federation) champion and the most respected figure in the industry. A legend of pro-wrestling who stands tall as an incredible immigrant success story.
10. Vince McMahon
With the number of Trump biopics sure to hit the big-screen in the coming years, a savvy filmmaker might take interest in WWE’s boss Vince McMahon instead.
The successes, defeats and controversies of McMahon’s reign are too long to list and might even warrant a multiple season TV show. Even still, an unflinching biopic about the most influential figure in the history of pro-wrestling could be something special.