Saraya-Jade Bevis, better known as Paige, is one of the biggest wrestling stars in the world right now. A 2 time WWE Divas Champion and an NXT Women’s Champions, she was the focus of a 2012 Documentary The Wrestlers: Fighting With My Family. Now Stephen Merchant has adapted her story in Fighting With My Family.
Paige comes from a diehard wrestling family from Norwich, not necessarily the origins you’d expect from the main character of a sports film, and that’s probably what helped draw someone like Stephen Merchant into making the film. But being a goth kid from Norwich definitely makes Paige an outsider and an underdog when it comes to the world of the WWE, and that is classic sports film.
And if there was one criticism of Fighting With My Family it would be that the story follows a fairly well worn path, but it’s one that never fails to inspire and move a large portion of the audience. And where Fighting With My Family really succeeds in the focus on the family unit, particularly when it comes to Paige’s brother Zak.
In contrast to the Paige’s underdog story, Zak’s is of someone who is not quite good enough, and must come to terms with that whilst seeing his sister live his dream. Florence Pugh, who plays Paige, and Jack Lowden, who plays Zak, are both superb, and bring these contrasting stories together brilliantly to deliver an emotional finale that was truly moving. It moved the big focus away from the typical underdog story well and onto that sibling relationship.
Pugh is certainly the star of the show though. She is one of the most talented young actresses around, and consistently amazes with her performances in film, this time managing to add a physicality and a comedic edge that she’s hasn’t necessarily showcased before. Nick Frost as Paige and Zak’s father is probably the comedic heart of the film. Frost is just a brilliant comedian, and unsurprising manages to showcase that well here.
It would be easy for a film like Fighting With My Family to inaccessible to Wrestling fans, but the fact Merchant tapped into this family story, and used that to bring the heart to the film means that it is truly a film anyone can enjoy. I’m sure the film does reward wrestling fans with some inside nods and jokes, but as someone who has never watched wrestling in their life, the film still worked for me.