The Wrestler: A Q.T. Marshall Story - Documentary film review

★★★

Directed by: #FrankCarmineZarrillo

Film review by: Brian Penn

Outside of the Olympics wrestling always seemed to be the sporting equivalent of a Christmas pantomime. I have fond memories of live bouts from Halifax; just before the football results started on Saturday afternoon TV. But could never pretend I took any of it that seriously. The Wrestler: A Q.T. Marshall Story does however throw the sport into a different light that is anything but showbiz.


It charts the story of a man who works for a tool shop by day and dreams of WWE stardom by night. Mike ‘Q.T.’ Cuellari also coaches at the Monster Factory, a training ground for wrestling wannabees. Mike opines that he can’t stand to watch bad wrestling and has to put it right. One can’t help stroking the chin as wrestlers run and play leapfrog with each other. He describes how to execute a forearm smash to the face that actually lands on the shoulder.


For all the kidology and showmanship they can still pick up some bad injuries. The film follows Mike’s last shot at the big time before he finally hangs up his sequined robe. Students, coaches and family share their love for a man who seemingly has given his life to wrestling. But will he get to leave the tool shop behind and become the latest recruit to WWE?


There is crushing irony in a man talking of last chances and being washed up at 30; when in truth no one of that age is ever finished at anything. Nevertheless, the tone is earnest with a whiff of resignation if it doesn’t happen for him this time. The world they inhibit feels more like a cartoon where characters wear names like Blue Meanie with a perverse sense of pride. We subconsciously expect Desperate Dan or Dick Dastardly to enter the ring. But flippancy is misplaced as these are real people living real lives. They long for acceptance and status when this year’s model will likely usurp them. Pro wrestling might be artificial but you can’t help rooting for the good guy.