This Week: Countdown (2016)
Tagline: “The Race To Save A Life Begins Now.”
WWE Superstars: Dolph Ziggler, Kane
Also Starring: Katharine Isabelle, Josh Blacker, Alexander Kalugin
Synopsis: When a madman kidnaps a young boy and rigs him with explosives, Ray defies his captain and takes matter into his own hands. Now he must beat the clock and save the innocent child. (via IMDB)
Watch It: Netflix / Amazon / YouTube
Hello, and welcome back to Pro Wrestling Movie Club! I hope you all had a lovely 4th of July holiday; I spent it camping in Canada, doing my best to get away from the pyro and ballyhoo that comes with Independence Day. However, after taking a week off from PWMC, I was champing at the bit to get into a new flick, which just so happens to be one of the most recent WWE Studios films: Countdown.
Now, you might remember this movie as the “Rusev-with-a-gun movie,” and you’d be correct. Sadly, Handsome Rusev only makes a brief appearance in this straight-to-DVD action flick; the bulk of the acting is carried by WWE Superstars (and Fox Business talking heads) Dolph Ziggler and Kane. In fact, despite having been with WWE since 2004, Countdown is the first time Dolph Ziggler ended up in a WWE Studios production. Think about that: Brodus Clay, David Otunga, Mr. Kennedy and Ted DiBiase Jr. all got movies before him. Ted DiBiase Jr. If that doesn’t make you worry about your place on the card, what will?
Countdown opens with Ray Thompson (Ziggler), an undercover cop working for Seattle’s police department, trying to bring down a Russian gun-running operation. To prove he’s not a cop to the bad guy, Nikolai, Ray shoots his goddamn partner square in the heart to keep the buy alive, which works — he manages to get Nikolai to sell him guns, then has him arrested on the spot. Of course, his partner is wearing a bulletproof vest, and he was also none-too-happy about being shot.
This lands Ray in the office of Lieutenant Cronin (Kane), who is clearly too old for this shit. As he begins to chew Ray out for burning through yet another partner, in walks Hannibal‘s Katharine Isabelle as Lieutenant Julia Baker, in charge of internal affairs. Dolph Ziggler sexualizes her immediately and promptly gets put in his place, getting suspended for 30 days, forced to turn in his badge and his gun. Bummer, dude.
As he clears out his desk, we see Dolph staring at a photo of a woman and child — presumably his wife and son. He then takes a suspicious-looking package addressed to him to the crime lab. I wonder if that’s a very important part of this movie’s plotline? We’ll have to wait and see!
Next, we meet Dolph’s wife, as she cleans up all the empty beer bottles he left behind that night. His son is nowhere to be seen, however. She finds him alone in a darkened corner of the house and tells him he can’t keep coming around anymore. Apparently they’re separated? Divorced? Actually brother and sister? We’re never told, but there is a super-heavy-handed musical cue in this scene designed for maximum sadness.
Ziggler falls asleep in his clothes, then is awakened by Kane texting him and telling him to get back to headquarters ASAP. Apparently that suspicious envelope was only the latest in many from the same mystery man, only this one includes a password-protected IP address. Dolph correctly guesses the password is MIKEY, his (presumably dead?) kid. A live video immediately pops up of another kid, who has apparently been kidnapped and has a bomb strapped to his chest. The mystery man demands a very specific ransom of $2,000,112.35 and says it needs to be handed off at a WWE live event in Seattle that day. Oh sh*t, Rusev with a gun. Let’s do this, fam.
We get a montage of WWE taking over this arena, from the stage being built to a bunch of wrestlers warming up, including glimpses of Roman Reigns, Daniel Bryan and the Big Show. Even though he’s currently suspended from the force, Dolph arrives at the arena as the bag man at the request of the kidnapper, scheduled to drop off the $2 million and bounce. Ziggler makes his way through a sea of 8-year-olds in John Cena T-shirts as what appears to be a New Day vs. the Ascension vs. the Lucha Dragons triple threat tag team match beginning. (What a weird match.) This was filmed at a legitimate house show in Seattle, but the clock on Ziggler’s hidden lapel camera says it’s 10:13, which makes no sense, whether or not it’s a.m. or p.m., because it’s daylight outside and WWE sure as hell ain’t running morning events anymore. Whatever, who needs continuity, amirite?
Dolph makes the drop and the mysterious kidnapper picks it up. Seattle PD tries to take him down, but he straight-up shoots another cop on the arena concourse in front of a little kid in a Ryback tee. Gnarly. Then as Dolph pursues the now-murderer, the guy shoots a WWE security guard and runs by Rusev casually lifting weights. Oh my god here we goooooo. Ziggler follows him with a gun drawn, and Rusev sees him, rightfully assumes he was the shooter and takes him down, disarming him in the process and picking up the gun. Rusev with a gun, y’all. We did it! When Rusev smartly asks Dolph to show his badge (as he’s claiming he’s a cop), Dolph superkicks him and runs off. Heel move. I recommend watching the above movie clip for the full impact.
Dolph corners the kidnapper on the arena catwalk, but before he can detonate the bomb from his cellphone, Ziggler shoots him square between the eyes. Of course, now no one knows where this little kid is, and the bomb is still on a timer that’s set to go off in a few hours. Ziggler snaps a few photos of the dead body, rotten.com style, then heads off to a seedy tattoo parlor with Lieutenant Baker in tow. There, one of the tattoo artists IDs the dead guy’s tattoos as Russian gang related, and we learn that Ziggler busted a Russian gang a year ago and they’re out for revenge. It’s always the Russians, isn’t it?
Ziggler heads to the mansion of Nikolai (who somehow got out of prison even though the police caught him red-handed selling assault rifles) to shake him down for more info, while Lieutenant Baker heads to a heavily Russian part of Seattle, which seems far fetched, but after doing some research, it turns out more than 10,000 Russians currently live in Seattle. Who knew? Anyway, she tracks down people who recognize the little kid and ends up finding his dad, Boris. (Of course his name is Boris. Of course.) It turns out his upstairs neighbor is the dead kidnapper in question, so they break into his apartment and learn that he was applying for political asylum and was obsessed with Dolph because question mark question mark question mark. Then, randomly, we find out Dolph’s pickup truck was stolen, never to be seen again for the rest of the movie. Glad we included that scene in the final cut, guys.
Shortly thereafter, Ziggler’s old partner catches up with him and tells him Kane wants to see him at HQ right away. Ziggler refuses, so his ex-partner maces him in the face and it is hilarious. He ends up in an interrogation room at the police station, because they think Dolph is actually behind this entire kidnapping/bomb plot. The reason? Ziggler’s son Mikey was killed in a drunk driving accident by another cop, so Dolph sued the city and won a cool $2 million. I still don’t understand his motivation to try and murder an innocent child, but okay, whatevs.
Then Dolph knocks out his ex-partner and tries to escape from headquarters, beating up plenty of officers in the process. Kane and Dolph square off, and we get the second-best part of the movie, as Kane goes to chokeslam him but Ziggler delivers a forearm to his crotch to free himself. Great balls of fire!
Ziggler manages to get away after getting pelted with beanbags fired out of a shotgun and gets picked up by Lieutenant Baker, who tells him he had previously arrested the kidnapper’s brother and had him deported back to Russia — and once he got there, he was hanged. Why? Who cares, the movie’s almost over! Also, it turns out there was $112.35 in the guy’s pocket when Ziggler booked him, which explains the odd ransom amount. Great. They follow a lead to a junkyard where the kidnapper used to work, but it’s a dead end, and the kid is nowhere to be found. But who does appear but Nikolai with two SUVs full of Russian gangsters, who capture the good guys but manage to get themselves all killed pretty easily (including a hilarious scene where Nikolai pulls out a grenade out of the glove compartment of his SUV, pulls the pin and then accidentally drops it, detonating his whip and sealing his own fate).
So it turns out the kid was hidden inside the police department HQ the whole time. Swerve! The pair race back to headquarters where Dolph manages to get the kid out of the bomb jacket with about five seconds to go. This kid must’ve been on Xanax or something, because he doesn’t say or do anything, just stares vacantly through Dolph, like so many members of the WWE Universe in 2017. He rushes out of the building right as the bomb goes off, drops the kid off with Kane, slugs his ex-partner one last time then walks off into the distance, as some awful butt-rock song plays behind him. A more perfect summary of Dolph Ziggler’s career could not be created.
So! We’ve reached the end. In Pro Wrestling Movie Club, we have three specific questions that must be asked at the conclusion of each film:
1. Is The Movie Objectively Any Good? It’s not terrible, and Katharine Isabelle’s character is actually pretty awesome as a take-no-sh*t, give-no-f*cks female police officer, but I can’t imagine ever watching this again.
2. Are The WWE Superstars Any Good In It? I mean, Handsome Rusev was perfect. Dolph and Kane did their best, too, and honestly, neither looked too out of place onscreen, whereas in so many of these movies the featured Superstars stick out like the sorest of thumbs.
3. Would I Be Embarrassed To Have A Friend Find A Copy In My Blu-Ray Collection? Hell no: Rusev with a gun in 1080p? Sign me up.
Next Week: I watch Interrogation, starring Edge and Lana (minus the Russian accent, probably).