Powerbomb (2020) | Directed by R. Zachary Shildwachter, B.J. Colangelo
USA | Colour | 79 Minutes
Written by Wes Allen, R. Zachary Shildwachter, B.J. Colangelo | Starring Matt Capiccioni, Roni Jonah, Britt Baker
Powerbomb has an interesting premise. A superfan kidnaps his favourite wrestler who he thinks isn’t realising his potential. But there isn’t much wrestling in the film.
The first five minutes of the film are mostly showing the main character, Matt Cross (Matt Capiccioni), in action and his athletic ability; including performing a Lethal Injection (handspring stunner) and Shooting Star Press (mid-air backflip) which demonstrates that he should be performing in big venues. The independent (small promotion) setting is something most wrestling fans will understand and that is the main problem (or perhaps the aim of the film) – it’s for wrestling fans only. The wrestling language used throughout the film, despite attempts to explain or simplify it – such as when asks Matt’s wife asks her son if he knows what Face (good guy) and Heel (bad guy) – means Powerbomb will either alienate people or help the film develop a cult following.
One way this film partially transcends the ‘wrestling-only’ fanbase is through relatable characters that apply to different industries (like music), and are well-acted. Solomon (Aaron Sechrist), the agent, is as sleazy as they come; making dodgy deals, blanking people, and through his arrogant body language. Solomon is keeping Matt in the independent circuit because a larger promotion would require contracts, making it harder for the agent to take a bigger cut of the wrestler’s money. But more importantly, he’s also doing it to punish Matt for his wife dropping out of the wrestling business.
My favourite character in Powerbomb is superfan Paul (Wes Allen), who reminds me of a cross between The Hangover’s Zach Galifianakis and wrestler Bray Wyatt. He’s unhinged, pathetic, but caring! I love the scene with him and his puppet discussing his failings in life, but he doesn’t let it bring him down as he has his wrestling passion. However, my biggest gripe with this film is how Paul subsequently kidnaps Matt to ‘help’ him grow as a wrestler, by trying to convince him to leave his family, and leave the indie circuit. Now, Paul is crazy, and maybe deep down does regret his own life choices – also, this is a micro-budget film – however, all Paul and Matt do is talk! Paul will then leave Matt alone for a while before returning to discuss something else, like how Matt’s family is dragging him down.
A few examples that would have made these scenes more entertaining: 1. Paul shows Matt contract info from a major promotion, some stats about failed wrestlers, and a biography of a wrestler who disowned his family then made it big! 2. Paul plants some evidence that would cause Matt to split from his family and agent. 3. Paul tortures Matt (nothing too serious as he still needs to wrestle) so he associates his family with holding him back.
With that being said, there is one scene (besides the finale) I really enjoyed, where Matt talks about his family history. Also, intersected are scenes with Matt’s family which, again, are dialogue-heavy. I feel this is because of the budget and perhaps flashbacks would have been better suited, or if these scenes were more charged as they distract from the scenes at Paul’s house. However, just like in the big-budget film The Wrestler, the filmmakers were able to get across just how difficult independent wrestling is for a family, with crap wages, lots of travel, injuries, etc.
Overall, despite the budget, Powerbomb is a good film for wrestling fans, with a brilliant performance from Wes Allen as superfan Paul. However, it is too dialogue-heavy with wrestling terminology to appeal to those uninterested in professional wrestling.