I’ve been a fan of pro wrestling for most of my life. There isn’t any other sport that’s played such a huge part in my life and I don’t think I’d had it any other way. I mainly grew up watching WWE since that was the only promotion that I was most accessible. The company has implemented several types of entertainment, including original movies and tv shows. I can still remember watching 12 Rounds, The Condemned, and Tough Enough when I was younger. Besides the films I listed, and a few others that weren’t named, these original products have been known to not be good. I’d even argue that most of them were made just for the sake of putting original content out. However, the company continues to release original content for home viewing. Most recently, The Big Big Show and The Main Event were released on Netflix.
The Big Big Show follows retired professional WWE wrestler, The Big Show (Paul Wight), as he prepares for the arrival of his teenage daughter, Lola (Reylynn Caster). Big Show is stressed since he and Lola haven’t seen each other since he was always on the road and he ended up getting remarried. To make matters more stressful, Big Show and his wife Cassy (Allison Munn) must deal with his two other daughters, Mandy (Lily Brooks O’Briant) and J.J. (Juliet Donenfeld). Even though he’s over seven feet tall and weighs 400 pounds, Big Show soon realizes that adapting to this major transition is more challenging than he thought.
I remember being really excited to watch these two WWE original products, especially after watching the trailers. However, I found myself not being able to finish either product for multiple reasons. One of those reasons is how many times they use Big Show’s size as a running gag in The Big Big Show. I understand that the show would fall under the sitcom genre, but there’s a point where a gag is too obvious to actually be funny. It’s quite possible that I’m making this claim because I’ve seen the Big Show wrestle for over two decades and have heard almost every joke that was made at his expense. Even if this wasn’t the case, I couldn’t imagine many viewers finding those constant size jokes to be actually funny.
I was also annoyed with several other sitcom tropes that The Big Big Show used, especially with J.J.’s character. For instance, I can’t recall the last time that a family in a sitcom didn’t have the youngest member be some sort of mad genius that had plans for world domination. Shows like Family Guy were able to build on this trope but never fully depended on it for character development. I understand how it would be “cute” to see a child act this way, but like the size jokes, it gets extremely repetitive. A character, especially in a 30-minute sitcom with only eight episodes per season, shouldn’t have to rely on one trope.
Then, there is The Main Event which follows 11-year-old wrestling fan Leo Thompson (Seth Carr), who discovers a magical wrestling mask that grants him super strength. Leo uses the mask to enter a WWE competition where the winner will win an NXT contract and $50,000 dollars. Leo sees this competition as a way to help his father (Adam Pally) pay off their house. With the support of his grandmother (Tichina Arnold), Leo is determined to achieve his dream of becomes a WWE Superstar and help his dad. However, Leo quickly realizes that this dream may be a lot harder than he thought it’d be.
I was looking forward to the film because of its premise and the fact that it brought on a sense of nostalgia. I was even excited that several wrestlers like Keith Lee, The Miz, and Mia Yim were going to make appearances. It was great to see them wrestle in actual matches in the film. However, the actual wrestling scenes that Leo was in felt completely unbelievable. I understand that the film called for holding one’s sense of disbelief, but there’s a limit to how ridiculous action scenes should look. It’s also possible that the film may not necessarily be for my demographic, but I’ve been a long-time fan of wrestling. It felt like the film was poking fun at how unbelievable some wrestling matches could be.
On top of this, I had an issue with how over-exaggerated Leo and his grandmother acted when I came to wrestling. I can totally relate to how exciting watch wrestling is, but I personally haven’t met someone who takes it as extreme as Leo. There’s a scene where he and his friends talked about wrestling for most of the day. Most of that is likely due to the writing, but it’s just not believable. I was hoping for something that continued that sense of nostalgia that I mentioned earlier.
Ultimately, The Big Big Show and The Main Event weren’t what I expected mainly because of how they were presented. With The Big Big Show, I believed it would’ve helped had it not been a sitcom. That’s not to say that there shouldn’t be comedic moments, but it took away from what I wanted to see. For instances, there was bound to be tension with Big Show and his family for being away from them for so long. The show also ignored any conflict between Lola and her father for marrying someone else. There’s also the issue that I’ve seen many wrestlers face after retirement; any physical injuries that they have to deal with. Had the show implemented any of these factors, I would’ve been completely on board and finished it.
As for The Main Event, it would’ve benefited much more from having Leo be older. I understand that having him be an 11-year-old makes it “family film,” but that also required that fantastical element of the mask. I couldn’t help but think of Fighting With My Family, another original film that came out last year. That film showed Paige’s arrival at NXT and her rise to success while still focusing on wrestling. Had The Main Event done something similar, I would have found a deeper connection to it.
Overall, I was very disappointed with both The Big Big Show and The Main Event. With everything going on right now and having to practice social distancing, I was hoping that these two original WWE products would provide a way to distract me. I couldn’t get myself to finish the film because of how over-the-top everything was. The show just wasn’t enjoyable for me to find a reason to keep watching. I tried not to compare this to other WWE original shows and films but the lack in quality wasn’t something I could get past.