“It’s the type of theater the ancient Greek wish they’d invented.” – Powerbomb
When I went to see Powerbomb, all I knew was that it was a movie about wrestling. I’ve only been a fan of wrestling for a few months, having first been introduced to it by a friend, so I was excited to see wrestling from the eyes of other fans. Also, it’s just fun to go see independent films. What I didn’t expect, however, was how good Powerbomb is and how it spreads so far across pop culture.
Though Powerbomb is about wrestling, and the opening sequence is a wrestling match, you don’t have to know very much about the sport to follow along. The fight gives the audience, wrestling fan or not, a good idea of what a match looks like, but, interestingly, it appears the lack the pulled punches false injuries that become apparent when watching a televised match. The angles are carefully chosen so the fight looks impactful, though it’s clear from the rest of the film that this fight was, like all other wrestling matches, predetermined.
Interestingly, this opening sequence begins to foreshadow the brutal nature of the rest of the film and questions about what is and is not real. The sequence shows the camp side of wrestling in the costumes and posturing, but the actual fight is brutal and without sympathy. This rest of the film calls back to this by exploring the brutal side of fandom while not shying away from wrestling’s campy nature.
The film explores all four basic characters in wrestling: the faces, the heels, the management, and the fans. It’s a common metanarrative that the plot of most wrestling shows is that it is, in fact, a wrestling show. While all sorts of fantastic things happen, there’s built-in reasons for everyone to be fighting one another. However, during a show, everyone remains firmly in their place, with the exception of a dramatic reveal turning a face to a heel or vice versa. However, in every case, the fans stay in their seats.
Powerbomb expertly explores what happens when the fans reach out just enough to engage in the fantasy world created by the wrestlers and management. Without the fans being the fourth character in every match, there is no show. Wrestling depends on fans buying into a distinction between “fake” and “predetermined” and then treating the fantasy world as though it were real. However, like in the film, this blurs the lines of reality. Fans will cling to genuineness and success regardless of the amount of staging.
Powerbomb is a must-see for fans of wrestling, thrillers, or pop culture in general. Every aspect of the film keeps the audience enraptured from beginning to end. Though it’s scripted, the movie pulls the audience in so much that everything feels close enough to touch. Though, by the end of the film, the horror of reaching out is enough to stop you.