If you have seen The Wrestler, you may have left the movie theater with many questions about the wrestling scenes. This FAQ about the wrestling scenes in the movie are in the order that the relevant scenes n the movie take place.
1. Is Randy “The Ram” Based on a Real Wrestler?All of the photos at the beginning of the movie showing Randy in his prime are actually doctored photos of Lex Luger. Lex is known to non-wrestling fans for being with Miss Elizabeth when she suffered a fatal overdose in 2003. If you thought that Randy “The Ram” had it tough, the last few years of Lex’s life have been harder. Since then, Lex has served time in jail and is currently recovering from a stroke.
2. What Were the Wrestlers Saying in the Locker Room?Prior to Randy’s first match in the movie, we see Randy talk to his opponent in the locker room. Throughout the movie, there are several scenes like this where the wrestlers speak in a strange language to each other. I have created a glossary of wrestling terms that should make what the wrestlers were saying to each other make some sense.
3. Who Was in the First Match?In his first match of the movie, Randy battles Tommy Noxious. In real life, Noxious is a wrestler on the indy circuit known as Tommy Suede. He was one of the men that trained Mickey Rourke for the movie. The training was overseen by WWE Hall of Famer Wild Samoan Afa and that match took place in his WXW Wrestling Organization.
4. Is That How Wrestlers Bleed?The first match is most famous for the scene where Randy uses a blade to cut his forehead. That is the most common way for wrestlers to bleed. Contrary to popular rumor, the blood on wrestler's faces is real and does not come from ketchup packages.
5. Do Wrestlers Use Drugs?While Randy the Ram couldn’t afford his rent, he had plenty of money for his drugs. Sadly, drug use is/was pretty rampant in the wrestling world. Because of the excess drug usage, plenty of famous wrestlers have died at a young age. On the independent wrestling scene, where Randy was fighting, there are no drug tests. According to Congressional reports, when the WWE implement their Wellness Policy in 2006, 40% of the WWE wrestlers tested positive for steroids and other drugs. In 2008, TNA wrestlers (the second largest company in America) also had over 40% of the roster failing their tests. It is worth noting that the Ram also bought HGH, a drug that currently can not be tested for.
6. Who Was in the Second Match?The brutal second match of the movie featured a wrestler known as the Necro Butcher. Necro is the King of a style of wrestling known as ultraviolent death matches. The match took place at an actual Combat Zone Wrestling event. That company is the biggest company that specializes in that style of match. Wrestling fans will be interested to know that the match was filmed at what was once known as the ECW Arena.
7. They don’t use Staple Guns. Do They?Sadly, the staple gun is a common weapon in the ultraviolent deathmatch genre. Fluorescent tubes, thumbtacks, and barbed wire are also common weapons. If you felt that this scene of the movie was particularly gruesome, just be glad that the Necro Butcher didn’t pull out a weed whacker. In case you are wondering, the staple gun is not gimmicked and the reason that the Necro Butcher had money stapled to his face was to prove that there are really staples in the gun and that it works.
8. Who Was in the Final Match?The final match featured Randy “The Ram” battle his old nemesis, the Ayatollah. While the ‘80s featured several wrestlers that had a Middle Eastern gimmick, the most famous and the only one to sell out Madison Square Garden was former WWE Champion the Iron Sheik. The Iron Sheik is most famous to the current generation for his YouTube and Howard Stern rants about wanting to break the backs of other men and then “humbling” them in the old-school way.
As far as the wrestler that portrayed the Ayatollah, he is known to wrestling fans as Ernest “The Cat” Miller. He is most famous for his stint in World Championship Wrestling, the organization that was owned by Ted Turner, as a wrestler with a James Brown gimmick.
9. Where Was the Final Match Held?The match took place at a Ring of Honor event held at the Baker Theater in Dover, NJ. Ring of Honor is the third-largest wrestling company in America. I recently had a chance to speak to Cary Silkin, the owner of the company. In the interview, he explained to me some details about the filming of the movie and named the mega A-List celebrity that was at one of their shows because he was originally cast as Randy “The Ram”.
10. What Happens When a Wrestler is Really Hurt?During that final match, the Ayatollah talks to Randy when it appears that Randy is in real trouble. If real trouble happens in the ring, it is very rare that a match just stops. The wrestlers communicate with each other and the referee. In televised wrestling matches, the referee is in communication with people in the back. Just as the Ayatollah suggests, usually the match ends pretty quickly and they try to end the match without further aggravating the injury.
Perhaps the best example of a wrestler that has a history of finishing matches despite severe injuries is Triple H. On two separate occasions, he continued wrestling and finished his match despite having a torn quad muscle that required surgery.