5. Hitman Hart: Wrestling with Shadows (1998)
If ever there was a wrestling version of “who shot JFK”, Hitman Hart: Wrestling With Shadows was the hard-hitting documentary that revealed the truth… or at least the most accurate version of events we’re ever likely to see.
Originally taken inside the walls of the then WWF to film Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart’s day-to-day wrestling life, the documentary crew behind Wrestling With Shadows soon became embroiled in one of the most controversial wrestling moments of all time, the Montreal Screwjob, an event in which Bret Hart was told he would win his hometown WWF Championship match but was judged by WWF referee Earl Hebner to have tapped out to his own move in a political manoeuvre by backstage officials to ensure rival Shawn Michaels would end the night as champion ahead of Hart’s departure to rivals WCW.
Being to date the only evidence of any of the backstage goings on at the fateful Survivor Series event, Wrestling With Shadows documents everything from the Hitman’s pre-match nerves to his post-match fury (including a punch to the face of his boss, Vince McMahon), offering unrivalled insight into the wrestling industry at a moment in which it was beginning to hit the pinnacle of its popular appeal.
4. Fighting With My Family (2019)
You may have noticed that up until this point there have been only a few wrestling dramas on this list, the inclusions of comedies Nacho Libre and Ready to Rumble hardly having the insight of the harder hitting documentaries that have outranked them, but with Stephen Merchant’s 2019 uplifting Rocky-like story Fighting With My Family, it seems that drama can indeed have a place at the top of the wrestling movie mountain.
This film, co-produced by former WWE Champion Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and co-financed by WWE Studios, Film4 and MGM, truly captured the energy and passion that is the bedrock of professional wrestling, its grass-roots approach to potential superstardom managing to capture the very essence of what the sport means to so many, whether they’re from New York or Norwich. The cast, including rising stars Florence Pugh (Lady Macbeth) and Jack Lowden (Dunkirk) as well as established names Lena Headey, Nick Frost and Vince Vaughn, pushed the film along while Merchant’s direction kept the journey honest and relateable, making for perhaps the most uplifting wrestling film to date.
Whether you’re a fan of wrestling or not, Fighting With My Family has something for you.
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3. The Peanut Butter Falcon (2019)
Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz’s The Peanut Butter Falcon wasn’t advertised as a professional wrestling movie upon release, but it offered one of the most pure-hearted and credible depictions of wrestling fandom ever presented on the silver screen.
Anchored by outstanding lead performances from down’s syndrome actor Zack Gottsagen as a disabled adult on the run from his care home, Shia LaBeouf as the homeless runaway who takes him in, and Dakota Johnson as Gottsagen’s carer searching for her lost patient, The Peanut Butter Falcon is a moving coming-of-age film about found family.
Gottsagen’s Zak is the core of the film, and his desire to one day become a professional wrestler is what drives the plot of the movie forward. Along his road to fulfilling his dream, Zak encounters all numbers of colourful characters including professional wrestling legends Jake Roberts (from entry 7) and Mick Foley (from entry 2). It’s cute, it’s warm, it’s moving, and it’s one of the rare great wrestling movies that presents professional wrestling in a positive light.