“We make movies.” – Vince McMahon, Beyond the Mat
Unfortunately, WWE probably shouldn’t.
The latest WWE Studios film is the Paramount+ animated movie Rumble, but you may not have heard too much about it. Strangely, a company that will show recaps of the same footage from earlier in the night more than once and will go nuts to promote how they received every type of mention from every mainstream media thing in the world has barely mentioned it.
I thought there might have been a reason for that, as it didn’t particularly look all that great. But hey, WWE hasn’t made any sense these past two years, so I chalked it up to just one of those things.
Typically, I’d be writing a “see it or skip it” article about this. Instead, I’m jumping straight to that point. Skip this movie. It’s simply not worth your time.
I watched it as part of my FanTracks podcast and I’m going to give you all you need to know about it so you don’t waste an hour and 45 minutes watching it yourself.
In this world, giant monsters are professional wrestlers. Just go with it. Obviously, all movies have a certain level of suspension of disbelief, particularly if it’s an animated kids film, so don’t catch yourself questioning the logistics of any of this.
The most popular wrestler and his coach (because coaches are a thing in this universe, despite how even managers aren’t as big a part of professional wrestling anymore) mysteriously disappeared almost a decade ago.
Essentially, “blah blah blah, the coach’s daughter is our super passionate protagonist and the monster’s son is the disillusioned wrestler she wants to coach.”
It’s a story that knocks on all the cliches. They need to become friends. Believe in yourself. Try to save the stadium that is the emotional and monetary core for the entire town and has run out of money. So on and so forth.
You know exactly how it’s going to go and it hits all those beats. Not that there has to be swerves for it to be a good film, but for it to be as paint-by-numbers as this is, you’ll find yourself getting bored easily because you’ve already seen this movie before, a hundred times over, and done better.
Pros and Cons
The animation is solid for something that isn’t Pixar or Dreamworks. Typically, these other production companies put out a product that is so clearly not up to snuff that that’s one of the biggest hurdles to get by, but I thought it was good enough that it could pass as a Dreamworks film at first glance.
A couple jokes land. Not many, but a few do. The one that probably got me to chuckle the most was lampshading the idea of playing montage music and it not working to get the monster to level up his skills quick enough.
Outside of that, I’m running out of ideas for pros, to be honest. That might sound harsh, but it’s legitimately difficult to think of more standout positives.
When it comes to the negatives, I had already mentioned the story hitting all the tropes and feeling like something that has been done a million times before. That carries its way through the dialogue, too, which is often spoken with very little enthusiasm. The character of the mom, in particular, speaks in absolutes where she stops just short of saying “Positive reinforcement from motherly figure. Reassurance you are special even if you don’t think so. Approval that you are different, but I consider that unique.”
None of the characters are memorable. If you ask someone to describe Woody from Toy Story, they’ll say he’s self-conscious, insecure, manipulative, loud, but has a heart of gold at the end. They can probably quote lines right after seeing the first movie, too. I don’t think anyone could tell me anything about these characters.
In fact, I can’t even tell you most of the character names. Winnie is the protagonist, and I mostly only remember that because she repeats “it’s a win, win, Winnie” several times. Rayburn and Tentacular are names I remember mostly for the same reason: repetition.
Tentacular is a great name, though. Props on that. Also, Terry Crews is Terry Crews, so he’s a positive.
I couldn’t tell you the name of the monstrous promoter that wants Rayburn to take losses or any of the other characters, as well as the ones WWE Superstars voiced. Which brings me to an entirely separate point…
I had thought that this was a WWE Studios production. Now that I’ve seen it, I’m convinced WWE came into the fold very late in the process and contributed virtually nothing.
Here is the full breakdown of everything that was outright connected to WWE in the movie that I caught:
- The logos for Raw, SmackDown and NXT appear in the background momentarily.
- Lucha House Party’s theme plays while there’s a lucha dragon fighting Rayburn.
- The Street Profits’ theme plays for about 10 seconds toward the end.
- Roman Reigns voices a gorilla monster.
- Becky Lynch voices another monster.
I’m the type of person who really digs references, allusions, nods and in-jokes. Not every opportunity has to be taken, but if it’s there and you don’t take it, there should be a reason why.
Therefore, it baffles me how they would have Roman Reigns voice a character and The Big Dog (at the time of this film’s production) isn’t the monster that is a big dog. He’s a gorilla. That gorilla also doesn’t do a Superman Punch or a spear. You can animate it to do anything and you don’t do that to make people pop?
The scarce involvement, as well as how little WWE has bothered to talk about this, makes me think they were brought on well into the process. This has likely been in the works for years after the book it’s somewhat based on was published. Late into the game, WWE either caught wind of it or they were brought to its attention with the idea in mind that they would become producers. Then, since WWE doesn’t even bother to produce its own shows lately, it was likely a case of “the less we do, the better, because this doesn’t really matter.” Lending the logos, the themes and having the top man and woman in the company voice characters probably feels like it’s a good contribution without realizing it could have used some ideas on the creative side. Then again, would we want WWE pitching those to begin with?
Overall Verdict and Final Thoughts
If you have a young child who is a big professional wrestling fan, I’d say go ahead and put this on for them. It’s not offensively bad or anything that deserves to be derided like one of the worst films ever. The movie just happens to not be all that “good” either.
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