As I have noted in many a previous column, I am a big fan of pro wrestling.
I’m not a fan of WWE films.
It’s not that they are bad. Actually, that’s part of the problem for me. For the most part, WWE films tend to be mediocre action movies; not good enough to rave about and not bad enough to have fun with. They tend to have similar plots and usually star one wrestler with another wrestler doing cameos.
Except for that Christmas movie with The Miz… that was a piece of shit.
But then I saw the trailer for Countdown and I got a little excited.
We’re still going with an unoriginal plot but it looked as though the WWE was going to embrace it’s ridiculousness and make a movie set around it. This looked like Die Hard at Wrestlemania!
… okay maybe Die Hard is stretching it, but definitely Sudden Death at Wrestlemania.
And then I was slipped a copy.
LIES! ALL LIES!
Countdown is about renegade cop Ray Thompson (played by the WWE’s Dolph Ziggler) on the hunt for a boy strapped to a bomb and the criminals who kidnapped him. The film co-stars the WWE’s Kane as Lieutenant Cronin and Katharine Isabelle as Lieutenant Julia Baker.
And the movie is meh.
The scene you saw in the trailer at the WWE event? That makes up ten, maybe fifteen minutes of the film. Instead of an action movie with wrestling as the backdrop, we get a ho-hum action movie that ultimately will either disappear from your memory or you’ll get parts of it mixed up with the last straight to VOD action movie you watched on Netflix when you were bored and couldn’t pick something to watch.
It’s not that Countdown doesn’t have some good parts in it. I think Dolph Ziggler is decent with the material he has been given and had there been actual time spent on the script, he may have shown us something interesting.
Kane, on the other hand, was kind of awesome. Kane plays the gruff, too-old-for-renegade-cops-in-his-precinct boss and he does a pretty good job at it. I remember more of Kane then I do of Katharine Isabelle’s part or any of the Russian mobsters/bad guys. He stands out and not just for his physical size (the man is called a monster for a reason) but for the choices he made in his role. I heard rumour a while back of the WWE making a comedy starring Kane and Daniel Bryan. After Countdown, I can kind of get behind that.
But here’s the thing (and I’m aiming the next part of this column directly at the WWE (because I know the bookers and staff all read this column): WWE Films should embrace their inner weird.
Let’s be honest guys, you know who watches WWE made movies? The same guys who watch RAW every Monday night. I would be willing to put fifty bucks down that 99.9 times out of 100, the people who buys these DVDs and Blu-rays or watch them on streaming services are guys who know the wrestlers. Very few of these viewers, if any, are going to be looking through the racks and say “Hmm, sounds interesting.” Nope, I can almost guarantee that they pick the movie up because it has a wrestler they recognize on the cover.
So why not embrace these fans and give in to the world of wrestling.
Countdown should have been Die Hard at Wrestlemania. It should have been over the top ridiculousness. There should have been wrestler cameos every two minutes. There should have been a Scooby Doo scene where Ray meets the real Dolph Ziggler. Hell, make Russev the mysterious bad guy who planted a bomb on the kid in order to get a retirement fund going. But instead we got a film that could have just as easily been titled The Marine [insert sequel number here] and it would have made little to no difference.
And this shouldn’t be the only one. Give me a road trip movie like the old Bing Crosby/Bob Hope films starring The New Day on their way to Japan, or a horror schlock fest with the return of Papa Shango who is knocking everyone into vomit inducing comas and the only man that can stop him is The Undertaker.
These films should be fun and memorable. In many ways, they should taking a similar path to what Troma does. You have your audience. Feed it more.
Except for the Kane/Bryan movie. That should just be a straight up remake of Midnight Run with Kane as the bounty hunter and Bryan as the fugitive.
If you’re gonna Geek out, GEEK HARD!