Hot on the heels of the Netflix original series The Big Show Show, the streaming giant and WWE Studios have teamed up again for the release of The Main Event.
A family-friendly take on the tried and tested, and often bettered, Like Mike formula of a child finding a magic object and becoming good at a sport.
That’s the main point here though, it’s often bettered.
The story is based around 11-year-old Leo (Seth Carr), a WWE fanatic who holds aspirations of becoming the next, huge WWE Superstar while living with his father (Adam Pally) and grandmother (Tichina Arnold). We would talk about the reasoning behind the absent mother, but it seems to be glossed over as quickly as a WWE first name removal.
Leo, while running away from textbook school bullies, finds a magical luchador mask that grants those who are worthy magical powers, such as seriously increased strength and acrobatic prowess. Suddenly, he has the skills to make his dreams come true and decides to compete in a competition to become the next NXT Superstar!
Through the goofiness of the whole premise, there are a couple of underlying themes throughout the movie that tries to bring in a human side to the proceedings. On one hand, you have Leo gaining a new sense of confidence that develops into an ego trip that lasts all of 20 minutes of the film. He needs to come to terms with his newfound fame whilst not pushing away those close to him.
On the other side, you have Leo’s dad trying to ease him into life without his estranged mother and reestablishing what seem like the building blocks of a father-son relationship. These fundamental blocks of the heart of the movie are messy and don’t stick the landing. For this viewer, this was not the movie that needed to pull on the heartstrings of its audience.
Front and centre of the film though, the juggernaut of this film, is the WWE. There is not a scene where they are not focused on. From t-shirts, stickers on lockers, to Monday Night Raw on the TV (which I’m 99.5% sure was actually an episode of Smackdown), you cannot escape the company for a second. There are even sizable roles for several superstars.
The Miz plays himself as the host of the tournament in the most Miz-like way imaginable, whereas Keith Lee (who is undoubtedly the MVP of the film for me) stars as a mentor-type figure for young Leo. Others such as Mia Yim and Otis also appear, all playing different characters than we see on screen usually. By the way, can we point out that, although the action featured doesn’t overly resemble what we see on a week-by-week basis, it did give us an intergender match-up/ Okay for Netflix, but a no-no on WWE’s in-house programming.
One thing that the WWE prides itself on is the athletic talent of its roster, painting the men and women of the WWE as real-life superheroes. Well, this movie that’s that idea and not only runs with it but leaves a giant John Cena sized hole in a 10-foot concrete wall. And no, he’s not in this flick. Along with Leo’s newfound powers, we also get some interesting abilities from some other wrestlers.
We have Samson, the villain of the piece, showing unmatched strength and Otis’s character the inane ability of … smelly farts and terrible breath. In his ‘match’, the character lets go so much, we get a slow-motion shot of the smell waves knocking Leo in the air and most probably scarring the audience for years to come. If you were looking for decent action in this film on the lines with Fighting With My Family, then you have come to the wrong place.
I understand that they wanted to make this entertaining for the target audience, but if a child were to be pulled into the world of WWE due to this movie, they might be slightly disappointed in what they find in the actual thing.
At the heart of it though, this is fully a children’s movie. Sure, we the casual and hardcore fan might get a kick from seeing wrestlers on our screen, but this is a movie flirts with the idea that children these days will understand the themes mentioned earlier on. It just can’t seem to make up its mind about how to present itself, much like the WWE in recent times.
One moment we get superhuman action in the ring, next is the attempt of a serious estranged mother storyline. Either one or the other, otherwise you get the hot mess that this turns out to be at points. If you have children, then this is the perfect way for them to throw away 90 minutes of quarantine time, but for those of us able to read this article, maybe give this one a miss for the time being.
You can find me on Twitter @TDWalton. Thanks for reading.