It’s been a little over 3 years since it’s release and I am still as crazy about The Wrestler as I was the first time I saw it. It’s the combination of Mickey Rourke’s heart wrenching performance, the reminiscing about the glory days of professional wrestling, and its New Jersey setting that makes it hit so close to home for me. Darren Aronofsky’s masterpiece remains legendary, especially to fans of the pro-wrestling business, but we the fans need to keep it alive! One way to do that is through wearing The Ram’s t-shirt!
Even though there was a glimpse of a Randy “The Ram” Robinson action figure in the movie, it was merely a custom job. You may be able to find a few custom Ram figures in the outer reaches of the Internet, but that’s about it. Since The Wrestler wasn’t watered down by a marketing onslaught, fans took it upon themselves to create t-shirts for their broken down Jersey hero. I wore mine this past weekend, and I’ve also noticed WWE’s Curt Hawkins (Zack Ryder’s former tag partner) proudly wearing a black Randy “The Ram” T-shirt as well. You can purchase one via Zazzle at this link.
If you thought The Wrestler was simply the wrestling version of Rocky, after reading this post you’ll think differently. The immense amount of similarities between 1988’s Homeboy and 2008’s The Wrestler make them more suitable companion films. The Wrestler, came 20 years after Homeboy, but both star Mickey Rourke and are filmed in New Jersey. Now join me at ringside as we pit boxer Johnny Walker vs. former wrestling superstar Randy “The Ram” Robinson…
Both The Wrestler and Homeboy’s New Jersey setting and stirring cinematography transported me directly into their respective main character’s agonizing world. While The Ram was your typical beefed up bleach blonde babyface who has seen better days, Homeboy’s Johnny Walker had shorter hair, and a western flair, but they were both equally beaten down, fading athletes.
Randy the Ram was grappling with his own demons and masking his pain with drugs, but Johnny Walker put himself in danger when he merely stepped into the ring. Walker also continued to align himself with an underhanded promoter prick only out for the purse, Christopher Walken’s Wesley Pendergass. It was easy to feel bad for a weathered, wandering cowboy who was being manipulated by a sleazy low level crook. As Pendergass, Walken is so Walkeny that you’d think he’s doing an impression of himself. This is classic Walken.
During the making of the two films, Rourke had more difficulty adjusting to training to become a wrestler since he had previously been a boxer for several years before pursuing acting. His bio on Wikipedia reveals that he suffered at least two concussions during his early boxing matches. His ring experience in real life clearly lent authenticity to both roles. Rourke even used Guns n Roses “Sweet Child o’ Mine” as his entrance music in his boxing bouts, while Randy “The Ram” Robinson chose to use the same song in the last match against The Ayatollah in The Wrestler.
In 1997 singer Paula Cole begged to know “Where Have All The Cowboys Gone?” Homeboy might not answer that question precisely, but after watching the film it’s obvious that all the cowboys slash boxers have gone to Asbury Park. Considering that Rourke wrote the screenplay for Homeboy (under his nom de plum “Sir Eddie Cook) and that he went back to boxing after his declining movie career, Homeboy becomes even more poignant. Although there’s many differences between boxing and professional wrestling, there’s almost no separation between Rourke, Johnny Walker, and Randy “The Ram” Robinson. Throughout his own boxing career, in addition to concussions, Rourke suffered a number of injuries such as broken bones, a compressed cheekbone, and short term memory loss. All that plus accusations that he was washed up as an actor fueled his performances in these films.
*Currently Homeboy is streaming on Netflix
Whether you are a hardcore McMahon disciple or you’re strictly into ROH and other indy organizations, the fact is that TNA Wrestling puts one hell of an awesome house show. Presently, the Nashville TN based wrestling organization has their show on the road and will be hauling it up to The Rahway Recreational Center in New Jersey on March 12th. The last time TNA came to The Rahway Rec Center in September, the air conditioning wasn’t working and the place was like a sauna. Words can’t describe to you the melange of smells wafting around that gym. I temporarily changed my name to The Sweaty Armpit that night.
Luckily they weren’t lying and the show they put on actually was full of non-stop action. If TNA could only capture that excitement and put it on TV, they would probably see a ratings boost. It reminded me of the old days of ECW, it was simple, no ridiculous pyro or lasers, just wrestling! Perhaps the reason why the Rahway TNA shows are successful has something to do with their association with the local Jersey All Pro Wrestling organization.
The best part about a TNA house show is that they actually follow the story lines and occasionally you’ll witness a title exchange. At the last show Elizabeth NJ’s Jay Lethal won back the X-Division title from Amazing Red in front of his hometown crowd! As Gorilla Monsoon used to say, the place went bananas! Mick Foley also showed up and ignited the crowd upon dropping some trivia that Randy “The Ram” Robinson from The Wrestler was from Rahway just before he confronted the team of The Shore (Robbie E. and Cookie). Unlike at WWE shows, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to try and get autographs and maybe a picture with your favorite TNA star. And don’t be concerned about ticket prices either; starting at $23 bucks, they are very reasonable. It definitely beats listening to Michael Cole and watching The Miz.
TNA Wrestling put on an unforgettable show at the Rahway Recreational Center on Saturday September 25th. I missed out on the TNA live event at Asbury Park’s Convention Hall several months back, so I wanted to be sure I caught the next one that came around.