This Week: Queens Of The Ring (2013)
Tagline: “Cashiers By Day. Divas By Night.”
WWE Superstars: CM Punk, the Miz, Eve Torres
Also Starring: Marilou Berry, Nathalie Baye, Audrey Fleurot
Synopsis: In a desperate attempt to reconnect with her estranged son who is a passionate WWE fan, Rose grabs his attention by joining a rigorous training program to learn to wrestle like a legitimate WWE Diva. She convinces her bored fellow cashiers at the local supermarket to join her challenging new adventure and together they become the “Queens of the Ring.” (via IMDB)
Watch It: Netflix (currently unavailable) / Amazon / YouTube
The entire business of professional wrestling is built on the ability to dupe the audience. Things that don’t hurt have to look like they hurt; things that do hurt frequently have to look like they don’t; pre-determined winners have to do their best to sew seeds of doubt about their victory. Those are all relatively understood by wrestling fans, though, to be part of their suspension of disbelief. Where pro wrestling gets sketchier is the bait-and-switch, when the promoter promises one thing and then delivers something else entirely. It’s pretty much why the phrase “card subject to change” exists.
Which brings us to 2013’s Queens Of The Ring, a little-known entry in WWE Studios’ catalog. It’s one of only three WWE Studios-branded titles to not actually be produced or co-produced by WWE Studios — they only distributed the film. But WWE came on board more than a year before its theatrical release and promised the film would include “WWE trademarks, footage, consumer products and incorporate cameos by some of WWE’s biggest stars including WWE Superstars CM Punk, The Miz and Eve [Torres].” The DVD box art doubles down on this promise, listing CM Punk, Miz and Eve Torres’ names across the top of the cover. Given the film is about the journey of four women from grocery store cashiers to professional wrestlers, it doesn’t seem out of line to expect at least a few lines from each Superstar, right?
Let me be the first to say: Bullsh*t. The “cameos” turn out to be nothing more than some footage of the Miz at a press conference playing on a TV and some random in-ring clips of Eve (and, oddly, Kelly Kelly) the main characters watch in the break room of the supermarket where they work. As for CM Punk? I literally only saw his face once in the entire course of the movie, and it was on a kid’s T-shirt. Card subject to change, indeed.
The film itself is actually titled Les Reines Du Ring, rebranded Queens Of The Ring for U.S. audiences. As you may have just figured out, the movie is actually in French, though the DVD version contains poorly dubbed English audio (as well as optional English subtitles if you’d rather read badly translated dialogue than hear it). The basic story is about a woman named Rose (Marilou Berry) who, after a five-year stint behind bars, tries to win over her estranged son by becoming a professional wrestler, because the first time she sees him after she gets out of prison, he’s wearing a Triple H shirt. Lady, listen: If he’s a Triple H fan, he’s not someone you wanna get to know better anyway.
Anyway, she recruits some of her fellow supermarket cashiers to come train with her by showing them an Eve Torres highlight reel. Then she completely exposes the business by saying, “It’s all just a show.” (Kayfabe is dead.) Her crew consists of middle-aged housewife Colette (Nathalie Baye), whose husband may or may not be cheating on her; the crude redhead Jessica (Audrey Fleurot), who spends most of the film saying and doing things that frequently made me type “WHAT THE F*CK, JESS” in my notes; and gangly goth Viviane (Corinne Masiero), who is the market’s butcher and knows her way around a blade. She is the film’s best character in a walk.
They train with an old pro wrestler-turned-gym owner named Richard The Lionheart (Andre Dussollier), who brings in a trio of Mae Youngs to help whip them into shape. If you’re expecting anything even remotely resembling a training montage, look elsewhere.
What we do get is a post-training shower scene featuring all seven women, including some unexpected nudity. Then, we get the first messed-up moment, when Jessica singles out an attractive boxer in the gym, heads into the men’s locker room to ask him out and proclaims, “I’m racist, I only like blacks.” Uh, what the f*ck, Jess. Said boxer (who is black) says he won’t go out with her because he a doctor at a nearby hospital and has to work. Seems reasonable.
Shortly thereafter, Jessica begins working on her wrestling persona, first deciding to dress up as a sexy firefighter. Unfortunately, as she walks down the street, people mistake her as an actual firefighter, and she is enlisted to rescue a man’s dog from a burning building. She instead lets the dog jump out the window to his death. What the f*ck, Jess.
Shortly after that, Jessica heads to the hospital where her crush works wearing nothing but a hospital gown, demands to see her crush, physically tackles him as soon as he walks in and then says she will cry rape if he refuses to go out with her. He refuses. She literally cries out, “RAPE! RAPE!” Uh, what the f*cking f*ck, Jess. There’s still an hour of the movie left at this point. F*ck me.
The ladies go out to a nightclub to cut loose, and the end up getting in a fight with some drunk idiots, which gets recorded and slapped on YouTube for maximum virality. This builds buzz for the Queens Of The Ring, as they’ve been labeled, and their upcoming match against a handful of Mexican luchadoras.
The local community starts rallying behind the women and turn out for an exhibition match to cheer them on against one another as they refine their characters, but it’s revealed that Rose wasn’t in prison for stealing, as she had told her friends earlier. She was actually in prison because she killed a guy in a barfight. Colette feels betrayed by her lie and tells everyone else what she did, which leads to Rose shooting on her in the ring, right as Rose’s estranged son walks in. He storms out because he only wants to see his mom fake-fight, not real-fight, and the Queens lose their upcoming wrestling match due to the bad look. Luckily, Richard gets them back on the card by — and I am not making this up whatsoever — pissing on a seagull. Sorry, PETA.
Jessica, after finally convincing the doctor to take her out, spies Colette’s husband out with another woman, confirming his cheating ways. The pair get high together. That’s gotta be a wellness policy violation. Regardless, it helps reunite most of the Queens, except for Rose, who goes MIA the night of the big match. Richard runs out of the arena to locate her and conveniently, the one random stranger walking when he runs out just happens to know who Rose is and where she has gone. Now that’s storytelling!
As Richard heads off to find his star, the remaining Queens begin wrestling against the luchadoras, and many taco and burrito jokes are made by the commentators. This movie is nothing if not super culturally insensitive. It’s not clear at all just how this match works, because Jessica scores a pin early on, but then everyone just keeps wrestling anyway.
Eventually, Richard returns with Rose after guilting her into competing (like any good wrestling promoter), and he gives Rose his dead wife’s old costume to wrestle in, because that is not creepy at all. Rose makes a spectacular entrance and fights off two plus-sized luchadoras for quite some time before eventually getting squashed by a frog splash and gets pinned, ending the mayhem. But even in defeat, the crowd still applauds the Queens, and a bunch of friends and family members hit the ring to celebrate a la the ending of WWF Canadian Stampede 1997.
One of the commentators signs off with the brilliant line, “Yesterday they were just checkout girls. Tonight, they checked in straight to our hearts.” Roll credits. Woof.
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? If you like mildly racist French comedies, sure. Otherwise, no thanks.
2. Are The WWE Superstars Any Good In It? Not f*cking applicable.
3. Would I Be Embarrassed To Have A Friend Find A Copy In My Blu-Ray Collection? Yes, mainly because the title of this movie is waaaay too close to Chyna’s first porno film, and I don’t want any of that baggage near my DVDs.
Next Week: I watch That’s What I Am, starring Randy Orton and Ed Harris. Don’t expect any high-flying from either man.