At Odds with Wrestling Homework – Ready to Rumble

Does everyone know the routine by now? Each and every week without a major wrestling event, the hosts of the At Odds with Wrestling podcast assign each other some sort of wrestling related programming from the past. This week we all watched the classic wrestling film, Ready to Rumble. 

This movie never played in my hometown and I couldn’t convince anyone to drive me an hour away for the limited run in another city. When the movie was finally released on home video (on VHS and DVD) I picked it up day one. I remember sitting down with the evening free so I could enjoy this film multiple times. My first thought upon finally watching after months of anticipation is that I would consider this the worst movie I’ve ever watched if not for the wrestling connection. Bad everything but I enjoy wrestling so much I tried my best to look past all of that. Watching it now over 20 years later, it’s still a bad movie but I know it’s a bad movie. I can be entertained by just how odd everything is about this flick. 

The movie opens with bloody faces and classic wrestling magazine covers. I missed if there was a credit to the Apter magazines but there should be one. The greatest wrestlers of all time are named, including George “the Animal” Steele. Not sure how that one got in there. There are a lot of things in the movie that felt like wrestling inside jokes and this is possibly the first of them. 

Our two leads, Gordy and Sean, are loitering outside of the local convenience store. Sean is telling kids how great Jimmy the King is as a professional wrestler. Ahmet Zappa as the store cashier comes out and yells at them saying “wrestling is for retards”. I want to say this is a product of its time but we knew better in 2000, right? Sean says something about King conquering death and one of the kids asks, “can he raise the dead because my dog Skipper is buried under my sandbox.” This line is so unexpectedly dark and I laughed way too hard. Gordie (David Arquette) is in a sugar high dream state and imagines himself going into the store to get another Freeze (or whatever the hell the iced color dyed sugar flavored drink is called here), but he’s a penny short. He and Zappa start cutting promos on each other and this turns into a wrestling match inside the store. Zappa goes for a tag and the Macho Man Randy Savage with Gorgeous George appears. Now Jimmy the King shows up as Gordie’s partner. Foreshadowing? The floor of the store is now a wrestling mat and the ground gives with all of the shelves and product still on top. For no reason Gordie runs his head into the glass refrigerated case door. For no reason the Nitro Girls appear. Gordie and King get the win.

Gordie comes too and goes into the store to get a new Freeze because he and Sean were supposed to share the previous one. Gordie puts his finger in his ass and gets a new free Freeze because the current one smells like ass. A very similar joke appeared a year or two earlier in Mallrats. Copy an anus, get an anus. Gordie’s dad, the head town cop, shows up at the store to harass the boys with a shake down. He wants his son to follow in the family business and give up that ridiculous wrestling. Gordie screams, “wrestling’s not FAKE”, and we know what sort of mind we’re dealing with here. 

Side note, this movie’s soundtrack is actually really good. I’ve owned it for years and still play it a couple times a year. I recommend hearing the Zappa brothers version of “Hit Me Baby One More Time”.

The next morning, Gordie and Sean are driving for work. They clean and clear out port a potties. Gordie turns the vacuum on the potty while Sean is in there, sucking him into the poop hole. Where does Sean get the newspaper? If I had to poop in one of those, I’m not lingering with the day’s news. They wrestle outside of the johns because that’s just a thing these two do. Later the boys go to get some fast food. Sean hits on Brittney who wants none of it. The other girl, Wendy, is all about Sean and wants to talk to him about wrestling but he’s oblivious to her. The boys are eating their burgers which they got from the taco place on the back of the truck. It is dripping poo slurry right between them. There is no way at least the smell if not the filth itself isn’t getting on their taco-burgers. I’m ready to throw up and decide I am no longer eating while watching this movie. Sean has made a WWKD – What Would King Do – bracelet for himself. And surprise, he has one for Gordie too! Best friends! You gotta give the people what they want. They clear out the septic for an old woman who is also a wrestling fan. She wants them to pick up a tight shirt for her at Nitro. How often does this woman need her septic cleaned out if they know her well enough to have extensive wrestling conversations with her? Instead of a tight shirt maybe she needs to spend her money on a diet change. Later Gordie stops by his house for a bit where his whole cop family are sitting around the table. Gordie is supposed to take a law enforcement test the next morning. 

Finally we’re at Nitro. I’ve been typing for two pages and the movie isn’t even set up yet. 

The boys have terrible seats at Nitro, all the way up literally in the rafters. Been there. There’s a cruiserweight tag team match in the ring and oh yeah, this is the time when Rey Mysterio didn’t have his mask. Seems forever ago, which I guess it was. Dominick had yet to curse us with his on screen presence. Gordie and Sean sneak down for closer seats but pause to watch the Nitro Girls dance. Gordie’s favorite is Sasha (Rose McGowen). 

The promoter – Titus Sinclair – tells Diamond Dallas Page that Jimmy the King is late and still hasn’t arrived at the arena, but here’s the finish. Gordie and Sean are closer to the ring. Tony Schiavonnie and Mike Tenay are the announce team. Mean Gene is doing the wrestler introductions. Bam Bam Bigelow and Sid Vicious accompany DDP to the ring. The old woman is watching from home in her wrestling gear. At least I’ll tell myself it’s her wrestling gear. Jimmy the King, the current WCW World champion, comes out along with his faction of Konnan, Saturn, and Curt Hennig. King cuts a promo and then starts singing Run DMC’s “King of Rock”. No way WCW would have paid for the rights to that song. Titus Sinclair comes out to the ring. He and Jimmy have words that the crowd can’t hear. I made you. No I made you. Whatever legacy they had together is long over. Titus says he wants to be there to witness King’s “final moment”. King realizes he’s screwed. The match begins normal. Sinclair gives a signal and DDP starts taking it to King. He tells King it’s just the boss’s orders. DDP slingshots King over the top and through a table that was clear a moment ago but now has magazines and waters that go flying. That’s right, I’m pointing out continuity errors in this cinema classic. King uses a chair. DDP fights back. Nut shot. Page’s goons are back out. Sid powerbombs King. They toss the referee, Charles Robinson, out of the ring. King’s guys come out to even the score, and they all turn on King! It’s a beatdown. It’s an assault. It’s a four post massacre! Sinclair throws the referee back in the ring and DDP is the new champion. Sinclair says the King will never work in WCW again. 

Gordie and Sean are crying while driving the poo truck back home. In their tears and anger they end up rolling and crashing the septic. The police and fire department have arrived at the accident. Another truck comes down the road and crashes into the boys’ truck. The second one shoots poo over everything and then explodes its own haul, toilet paper onto the scene. 

Later, all the help is gone and the boys are walking back home. Sean says he has nothing left now. Gordie says this all happened for a reason. Now that they have no jobs and no responsibilities it’s the perfect time to go on a quest to find Jimmy the King and bring him back to prominence. 

In the morning the boys are still trying to hitchhike. Somehow they’re clean and no longer full of poo waste or smell. They’re trying to make it to Atlanta, because that’s where WCW is headquartered and Jimmy the King is from there as well. A van of nuns picks them up, and they’re headed to Daytona so they’ll drop the boys off in Atlanta. Wyoming to Atlanta is a 24 hour drive. Which I guess if the nuns switched drivers they could do within the time frame of Monday to Monday set up in this movie. Whole lot of switching drivers in this movie. The nuns sing some religious songs to pass the time. Gordie and Sean try to keep up. Awhile into the journey, Gordie asks if the nuns know any Van Halen. All but one says no, and she has a look on her face. Cut to the nuns singing “Running with the Devil”. Another scene that I remember when I first watched this movie and I thought was hilarious. They even break out lighters. Just like that we’re in Atlanta. The nuns throw up the devil horns to say goodbye. The boys head into a gas station/larger than their hometown one convenience store thing. Check out the Surge advertising! They ask each other how many times they farted during the drive. Zero each. Those were the Farting Nuns. That’s it for this joke. Gordie and Sean were just bathed in poo waste but the nuns smelled. At least have one fart joke while in the van! Anyways. Sherman from American Pie, called Isaac here, is playing a Jimmy the King video game at the store. This features some of the shittiest graphics I’ve ever seen. It’s about as legit as King himself, as we are about to discover. Turns out Isaac is a hacker on “the net” and will help the boys find King. He starts with the site Hacker Planet, like one did back then. Sean is dancing and singing to the aforementioned Britney Spears classic. 

The boys show up to King’s address of record -a broken down shack. His wife, “the queen” answers the door. She tells the boys that the King hasn’t been there in two years. Just left her with crabs and an itchy crotch. Wanna see crabs up close? And Gordie debates on it for a second! There’s getting close with the King and there’s getting a little too close to the King. Jimmy’s kid who I can’t tell if he’s overgrown and 16 or dumb and 30 shows off his horrible braces. The boys meet King’s parents, who King says died years ago in his autobiography. His parents say he borrowed/stole their RV. Isaac finds the RV and the boys finally track down the King. He’s laying inside, passed out and dressed as a woman to avoid everyone who might be looking for him to get some of their money back. Honestly, he has a world title reign, magazine covers, video game, posters, book – where did his money go? Clearly he’s pissing it away as he is painted as a bad person here but I think it’s also implying that wrestlers don’t make that much. His base contract, plus main events, plus merchandise should be in the millions. Later in the movie a million dollars is up for grabs but honestly King should be making multi millions with all of these revenues combined. 

Anyways, back at the RV park. King tells the boys to get lost but they appeal to his inner grifter and offer up all of the cash they have. “30 dollars, personal appearance fee for 5 minutes. Enter.” King tries to hustle them saying his kid is in a wheelchair and other fallacies without knowing the boys have already met his estranged family members. “Your son’s not in a wheelchair.” “Your parents aren’t dead anymore either.” King praises the Lord and tells them to piss off now that he knows they’re on to him. Gordie offers to get beer for the King. King is sick of the boys and their fandom. “You all know it’s just a show, right?” Gordie says perhaps the deepest line of dialogue in the movie, “how can you be a phony if we believe in you?” It’s Santa Claus logic. They all have a few beers, King beats the boys up, and that’s how Jimmy gets his groove back. Time to take a road trip. King drives the RV away. They head to the next location for Nitro, all the way up at the New York Arena in NYC. King is determined to get back at Sinclair. Also, Atlanta to NYC is 13 and a half hours of non stop driving. 

At the arena, the boys are pretending to be part of the company delivering port a potties. Which isn’t far from the truth but how do they sneak into a company on the other side of the country from their home? King is hiding in the potty and will jump out when Gordie calls out the signal. As the boys walk around they go by an open door for the Nitro Girls dressing room. They and we the audience spend a couple minutes watching the Girls walk around in their underwear. Lets all take a moment here. 

And we’re back. Sasha walks up and calls out the boys for staring. Gordie tries to come up with an excuse but is clearly hypnotized by her breasts. He can’t be blamed. This is height of her powers Rose McGowen era: Scream, Jawbreaker, Charmed. Word is she hated making this movie. 

DDP and Sinclair arrive at the arena. They set up a backstage promo. King jumps out of the potty to attack Page and Sinclair. Gordie tackles Sinclair. Van Hammer and Bam Bam Bigelow take out the boys. King pins Page in the back. Sinclair says that doesn’t count as a title win (well duh, that’s not how wrestling works at all). Sinclair makes a match – a cage match for the title, plus a million dollars versus King’s career in WCW. This would have been huge if it actually happened on a show. The fired and disgraced former champion shows up out of no where. He beats the champ. Chaos reigns. The internet would be going nuts. 

The boys throw a party in the arena parking lot at King’s RV. Everyone shows up to party with the disgraced former champion because he’s now cool again after the earlier fight. Sasha comes over to say hi to Gordie. He has her poster on her wall, you know, that one. Sasha and Gordie are both from Wyoming. OMG, soul mates! The Nitro Girls dance and everyone dances with them. How hot is Chae? More on that later. Mean Gene is drunk and asks King “do people think I’m sexy?” King gets drunk scared (not of Mean Gene, but of his future match) and takes off running then immediately falls through a manhole cover into the sewer. This is not how those covers work either. Next morning, the boys got Jimmy out of the sewers and sing their song to hype him up. He’s the best wrestler. Better than all the rest-ler. I’ve remembered this song for years and occasionally sing it with my own stupid made up lyrics. 

The boys got help for King and they walk up to some apartment building to the sound of screams. Hi, Sal Bandini, wanna wrestle? Sal, played by Martin Landau in a huge WTF moment, is an old school hooker who is stretching young wrestlers. That sentence sounds horrible to anyone who doesn’t know wrestling. Sal stretches Jimmy and is getting him ready for the upcoming title match. 

Gordie shows up at Sasha’s apartment for a date. Wait. Where the hell is everyone now? Sal lives in NY? Does Sasha? It doesn’t really matter. “Are you fluent?” “No, I feel fine.” Gordie gives her bananas because “the flower guy was closed”. “Candles and food and everything.” Gordie is stabbing fruit with chopsticks and then shoveling spaghetti in using the sticks in ways that would make the obelisk from 2001 leave believing that mankind has not actually made an evolutionary leap and learned how to use tools. Gordie tells Sasha all about Sal. Sasha wants to see some of his moves. He flips her over and I don’t think that was a snapmare. Sasha says she wants to see moves in the bedroom. Sasha removes her top and Gordie screams “foreign objects” then smacks her, and then the bedroom wrestling begins. What’s worse, not knowing wrestling is fake, or thinking boobs are weapons? 

Gordie sends a letter to his dad all about his quest and his dad reacts in a normal way, by putting the postcard on the fridge and shooting it. Maybe anyone raised in this household would view boobs as weapons. 

The boys look to recruit some help for King and hit up the local gym. Sasha – wow, great outfit – is giving Gordie bad advice. We all see this coming, right? King talks to Goldberg. Is that John Cena in the background? It is. Goldberg says he works alone. 

Saturn and Sid Vicious break into Sal’s home. Sal pops out of a trap door and stretches them both. Sid smacks a chair over Sal. 

At the hospital (what city are we in at this point?) and Sal is hurt but he’ll be okay. Sasha takes off for a moment and calls Sinclair. She told Sinclair all about Sal and the attack is her fault. Gordie hears the call. Now we all know what’s going on, including Gordie. Sasha is going to be head Nitro Girl for all of this. Back in the hospital room and Sal advices them to attack a man’s strengths. Because that is the least expected. Sal tells them to get out of town and get back to basics. The boys get ready to leave and Gordie leaves Sasha at the hospital, because she doesn’t have a heart. Now they apparently drive from NYC all the way back to Wyoming to get back to the basics. 

King goes to see his ex-wife. Wait, so they drive NYC to Atlanta and then to Wyoming and then start training? I need to stop applying logic to this movie. How many times does King get kicked in the nuts? King vows to do right by his family and get that boy a good dentist. Back in Wyoming and cop dad shows up to drag Gordie away. Gordie’s dad doesn’t want him in wrestling. “No skimpy outfits, no touching other men.” This movie really moves wrestling forward. Sean and King go to get Gordie back but he refuses the call to adventure.

Sean and King hold tryouts for the King’s new posse. A lot of people get beaten up. They settle on Fireman Fred, the Chewer, and Kitty – “my friends call me Pretty Kitty”. Poor girl is beautiful but can’t hold up to Sasha and the Nitro Girls. 

Sean is training with King. The same kids from the opening scene of the movie are riding their bikes alongside. The whole town shows up to wish King well on his title match. Britney now wants Sean because he’s someone but Sean realizes Wendy has loved him all along. He gives her a Hard Rock NYC shirt and she gives him something that rocks as well. Gordie shows up to say bye to King. The RV leaves but has to stop to let Wendy out. Out of all the bare asses that could have been in the movie, it ends up being Sean’s. 

We are now live at the MGM Grand for Royal Bash in Vegas. Wyoming to Vegas is a 12 hour drive. The Nitro Girls dance. Sinclair warns Sting to stay on his side. “I will kill you if you fuck this up.” Sean has his new look pimp daddy mafia red suit. Surprise, this match is inside of a three tiered Cage of Death. The winner will be the wrestler that climbs all the way up to the third level and retrieves the title. Michael Buffer announces. The main event is about to start. King warns Sean to watch out for the pyro. Sean does his best Undertaker impression. “We are… ready to rumble.” That’s not the line! This whole movie is named after the iconic Michael Buffer line and then he doesn’t say the actual line? 

The main event begins. King vs DDP. Sean throws powder and handcuffs Page. “A diamond upside down is a pussy.” I think this is the last line of the movie I remember laughing at when I first watched it. Juvi and a mystery man attack King. Sinclair calls all of his goons out to attack King. The mystery person is King’s son! Holy Dominick Mysterio, what a turn. Goldberg and the good guys – Disco, Booker T, and Kidman – come out to help King. Who is that? Gordie comes riding out in full cop gear on a police motorcycle and crashes through the cage. The cops back in Wyoming are watching. Gordie’s dad sees him on TV and finally turns around, “that’s my boy!” Sasha gets in the cage to talk to Gordie. Gordie says she’s still a bad person and then Sasha gets hit by a ladder. This is the last time we see Sasha in the movie. 

The fight moves into the second cage. We’re now on top of the third. Sting is watching from the rafters. Page kicks Jimmy down to cage one. Sting flies down and kicks Page down to cage one. The boys say Sting loves Jimmy and its okay for men to love other men. Sting knocks them both out. Back up to the top of the cage. King won’t give up. Page asks him, “who the hell are you fighting for?” “ME!” It’s actually a good moment that is possibly the best acting Oliver Platt does in the movie. Jimmy slams Page through every level of the cages and he crashes to the mat below. Jimmy grabs the title and wins. We see people watching the PPV. Isaac watches it on a tiny tv antenna – not how PPV works. Wendy is watching at the taco/burger place – not how PPV works. Sinclair is defeated. “You didn’t make wrestling. We made wrestling.” The boys throw Sinclair into the crowd where he is beaten up. 

Mean Gene interviews King and asks him about the tag team titles. Goldberg offers to be his partner. King says he already has a partner – the Law, Gordie. And Sean is their manager. 

Back at the Wyoming convenience store, Sean is talking to the kids while holding the new WCW magazine with Royal Bash on the cover. The kids say it was a one time thing. Goldberg throws Zappa through the window of the store. Chae pulls up in a Hummer to pick up all the guys. Sal is in the back in a hot tub with some ladies. The Hummer has a WWKD license plate. 

Outtakes play over the credits. There’s a nut shot montage. “No wrestlers were harmed in the making of this motion picture.” I also watched the Bif Naked video for “We’re not Gonna Take It”. I’m also realizing Bif is 20 years older too but I had a thing for her for awhile too. Underrated in the States. Huge Canadian talent. 

Sinclair was supposed to be played by Eric Bischoff. However when filming started he was no longer with WCW. I have to imagine Eric viewed this character as his way of mocking Vince McMahon. The Jimmy the King angle is analogous to the Montreal Screwjob. Honestly, there could have been a meta joke within of the sophomoric humor in the movie appealing to the sophomoric promoter. There’s a few things that feel like inside wrestling humor. Most of Jimmy’s character seems like a pastiche of some of the worst real life stories that have trickled down to the fans. 

The movie is terrible but it’s fun to watch as a wrestling fan. Much like watching Grunt or Body Slam decades later. It’s a snapshot of a time in wrestling. Plus David Arquette as WCW World champion adds a story to the movie. 

Rose McGowen is the female lead but I’m making an argument that the true star is Chae. She might be in the movie just as much as Rose is as Sasha. Chae is in every dance scene. She’s in the dressing room scene. She picks up the boys at the end of the movie. Not Spice, or Tygress, or Fyre, or any of the other girls. I looked her up and while she’s beyond wrestling and now a wife and mom she continues to hustle and actually had a patent and Kickstarter recently for her own line of storage bags. That kind of work was probably evident 20 years earlier and maybe she knew how to put extra focus on herself. There’s an off camera story to be told of Sasha and Chae fighting over who will lead the Nitro Girls. Ready to Rumble 2 comic series coming soon from IDW. 

Finally, there’s a story that DDP pitched a closing to the movie in which the boys would walk in on Page and King sharing a beer at the end of the PPV. The boys would be confused and Page would say, come on in guys welcome to the business. I think this ending would have tied up the movie pretty well as the whole thing’s a work. Otherwise, Sinclair is at best too hurt to still be a promoter and at worst he’ll fire King, Goldberg, and Sting – three main event stars – for working against him. Again, if we’re lucky we’ll get that sequel series.

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