The wrestling world is one that attracts some fans in droves, as much for the colorful personalities as for the in-ring work. While the action between the ropes is one thing, there’s nothing like watching a real-life story of personal triumph.
These stories translate well to the big screen, so it should come as no surprise that WWE’s Paige fit well in the spotlight. Paige, whose real name is Saraya-Jade Bevis, had a movie based on her life and upbringing in the wrestling business.
The film was a partial product of WWE Studios and was directed by wrestler-turned-actor The Rock. It currently holds a 92% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Warning – this review will contain spoilers.
The film opens up in Norwich, England in the year 2000, with siblings Saraya and Zak fighting – over the TV remote. Zak tries to watch WWE (then WWF) King of the Ring, but Saraya wants to watch her favorite show, Charmed. While Saraya is reluctant to join in the wrestling business with her parents and siblings, she ultimately goes along with it.
Years later, the 18-year-old “Britani Knight” along with her brother “Zak Zodiac” work at their parents’ wrestling promotion to help bring in fans and train new talent. Their parents, Rick and Julia, are struggling financially but catch a break – Saraya and Zak earn their chance at a WWE tryout. The only condition is there is already a Brittany in the group, so Saraya is asked to pick a new name.
Upon arriving at their tryout, the siblings are advised by the Rock himself – who urges them to be themselves. Saraya also officially changes her wrestling name to Paige, after a character from Charmed. WWE trainer Hutch Morgan puts the group to the test, but ultimately Paige is the only one chosen to move forward to the NXT training center. Despite pleading for her brother to come with her, she’s the lone selection.
Zak continues to wrestle on the independent circuit in the UK while training more recruits and raising his newborn son. However, his being passed over clearly affects him – even causing him to slack at training the recruits and teeter on the edge of alcoholism. Meanwhile, Paige has trouble fitting in with the other NXT trainees and continues to clash with the head trainer.
When Paige returns to her family, she confesses to her brother she’s giving up on WWE. This confession leads to a heated clash, and ultimately she decides to return. With a newfound sense of motivation and a better attitude, she earns the respect of her colleagues and trainer. Ultimately, she gets invited to attend WrestleMania with the other trainees.
It’s there she learns she’ll be making her main roster debut the next night, defeating AJ Lee for the Diva’s Championship.
The story is one that shows the value in pursuing a dream, and how even the most successful people struggle. It’s also a strong directorial debut for The Rock, who may have similar roles in future films.