It seems almost impossible for wrestlers to make movies these days, because the transition from the squared circle to the silver screen requires them to play characters that are so far out of their comfort zone. But this wasn't the case for some Ring of Honor talent, because they had the opportunity to put themselves on the map in The Wrestler, by simply playing themselves.
One of the more infamous scenes in the movie was a match involving one of ROH's main attractions The Necro Butcher. Never having been in a movie before would likely give anybody butterflies in the stomach, but it's hard to imagine that a guy who wrestles barefoot and uses a staple gun on his forehead would get nervous easily.
"There was an ROH show at the Manhattan Center and the producer and director of the movie were kind of scouting different wrestling companies in the area," Butcher said. "I was pretty excited, because I was the first guy they talked to. But then they started talking to some of the younger guys and I wasn't as excited. He (director Darren Aronofsky) had an image of what we (wrestlers) were and I think they saw me as a hillbilly cannibal."
Butcher was fortunate enough to even get some lines in the movie and thought they did a good job with it. His match with Mickey Rourke's character Randy "The Ram" Robinson is one of the most discussed scenes in the whole movie, because it was so graphic. Overall, Butcher enjoyed working on the movie and was happy to get both himself and Ring of Honor noticed.
The Necro Butcher in The Wrestler.
"I seriously got lucky to do that one," he said. "I was impressed by how professional everyone was. They all knew their jobs and everybody just did what they had to do to make it work."
One of the younger ROH talents involved in the movie, who Butcher made reference to earlier, was Erick Stevens. Stevens certainly had the image the director was looking for and was just as thrilled to make this movie as everybody else.
"It was a once in a lifetime opportunity," Stevens said. "I've never been on a movie set before and I really never realized how time consuming this would be."
Stevens might not have had a major role in the movie, but he did have a few lines and got to work a match with Mickey Rourke. While he may have appeared to be just another random wrestler backstage to movie fans, ROH fans are well aware that there is nothing random about Erick Stevens.
Stevens had kind of a mixed reaction to the movie himself. He never thought a movie like this would be as popular as it became, but was still happy to be in it. He says it was just like his regular job and he didn't have to do anything that was really out of the ordinary.
"I found that the movie was kind of a mish-mosh of real story and the stereotype of pro wrestling," Stevens said. "I was honestly amazed that a movie about pro wrestling, starring Mickey Rourke and directed by Darren Aronofsky, would get so much buzz."
Is it Jerry Lynn or Randy "The Ram"?
Although he wasn't in the movie himself, ROH Champion Jerry Lynn
has often been compared to Randy "The Ram," all the way from his similar look to his experiences.
"The biggest comparison between me and Randy the Ram was the daughter that he missed seeing for half her life," Lynn said. "But for me, it wasn't as serious an issue as it was in the movie. I always tried to make it out and see my kids whenever I had the time."
Lynn genuinely enjoyed the movie and it left a lasting impression with him.
"I thought the movie was very accurate," Lynn said. "It wasn't about a particular wrestler's experience, but more about the wrestling business in general. Any veteran can relate."
Stevens might not have been in the business long enough to relate to the Randy "The Ram" character, but the movie deal certainly had a huge impact on his career. But if given the option of movies versus wrestling, Stevens says there's no contest.
"I don't think a career in the movie business is for me," he said. "But it was cool to be a part of it."
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Blaine van der Griend is going to the movies.