Whether you are a fan of wrestling or not, Fighting With My Family is a highly entertaining and uplifting look at an unlikely rise to stardom. While some fans will be drawn to the title due to Dwayne Johnson being smack in the middle of the film’s poster, the highest paid man in Hollywood, plays a small role in this true tale. Stephen Merchant directs and wrote the release and showed a skillful hand in balancing fact and fiction. While some might look at this just a retelling of WWE star Paige’s rise to fame, but in reality, there is much more to that (or they would have just had the superstar play herself in the film). Her rise through the ranks was the start of an ideological change in sports entertainment. Paige (real name Raya Knight) showed the world that women were capable of getting as big of an audience reaction as their male counterparts. She also didn’t look like most of the other wrestlers. While the others had more of a modeling/cheerleading background, Ms. Knight came from Norwich, England where she helped run her father’s independent wrestling association.
Florence Pugh was a perfect choice to play the wrestler from Norwich, England. She projected the ideal amount of insecurity/raw talent as Paige on screen. Even though Paige has reached the pinnacle of her young wrestling career (being asked to work with WWE), there’s this sense of wonder that comes over her at different moments in the film.
The ensemble in the by far the best part of Fighting With My Family. Lena Hadley, Jack Lowden, and Nick Forst all portray members of Paige’s family. In between those moments of sheer wrestling bliss, those three add just the right amount of levity to the narrative. Stephen Merchant also plays a small role in the film and to the surprise of no one, delivers the biggest laugh of the film.
If anything, Fighting With My Family gives the audience a great example of how hard work can pay off over time. While Paige may have had a hand in changing the wrestling world, she also showed that dreams don’t discriminate by gender. Anything is possible and not losing sight of that is a great lesson.