The story of WWE superstar Paige and her wrestling family in England is told in Fighting with My Family. Saraya Knight (Florence Pugh) has been wrestling since the age of 13 for her family’s wrestling promotion World Association of Wrestling in Norwich, England, which is run by her father Ricky (Nick Frost) and mother Julia (Lena Headey) and also includes her older brother Zak (Jack Lowden). One day, Saraya and Zak are called in for a tryout by WWE trainer Hutch Morgan (Vince Vaughn) and Saraya ends up getting chosen to proceed to the WWE developmental system in Florida. While Zak struggles with the disappointment of having to stay behind in Norwich, Saraya finds that her dreams of making it in the WWE system are more difficult than expected.
Fighting with My Family is a biopic written and directed by Stephen Merchant (The Office) and produced by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who also appears as himself in a featured cameo. The story is inspired by that of WWE superstar Saraya “Paige” Bevis, who comes from a family of wrestlers in Norwich, England. When Saraya Knight arrives at the WWE Performance Centre in Orlando, she finds that all the fellow trainees, which includes Jeri-Lynn (Kim Matula), Kirsten (Aqueela Zoll), and Maddison (Ellie Gonsalves), are all blonde ex-models with no previous wrestling experience. Saraya also struggles with Hutch’s intense drills and working in front of the NXT crowd. Back home, Saraya’s brother Zak is coping with being rejected, which leads to some resentment over his younger sister’s position.
When Paige made her WWE debut back in 2014, the female roster was still primarily made up of ex-model “Divas,” selected more for their looks than wrestling ability. Fighting with My Family tells the story of Paige’s journey to becoming a WWE superstar, while also focusing on the family of wrestlers she has come from. As a longtime wrestling fan, I am quite familiar with the career of Paige, which sadly came to a premature end in 2017, when a neck injury forced her to retire from in-ring competition at the still very young age of 25.
Those expecting Fighting with My Family to be a hard hitting look at the wrestling industry, in a similar fashion to 2008’s The Wrestler, are likely going to leave disappointed, since this is a very sugar-coated story passed through the WWE propaganda regime. In a similar vein, the film also tries to rewrite history and make Paige appear to be the only serious female wrestler in the WWE developmental at the time, even though this is far from the truth.
While this is a film that can be nitpicked to death by wrestling fans, Fighting with My Family is still a well done film that it is sure to attract people, who have a greater interest in female wrestlers, following the success of the Netflix series GLOW. While, Fighting with My Family doesn’t have the same high quality as GLOW, it is still a film that is well worth checking out.