Professional Wrestling Industry Reception
Prominent wrestling figures have commented on the movie. Aronofsky remarked during an NPR interview on WWE chairman Vince McMahon’s feelings on The Wrestler:
Vince McMahon saw the film and he called both me and Mickey (Rourke) and he was really, really touched by it. It happened a week ago. We were very nervous wondering what he would think, but he really, really felt the film was special. Having his support meant a lot to us, especially Mickey.
WWE Hall of Famer Bret “The Hitman” Hart, who was a multi-time world champion in both WWE and WCW, enjoyed The Wrestler and applauded Rourke’s “clairvoyant” performance, but called the film a “dark misinterpretation” of the business. He asserted: “Randy “The Ram” Robinson was a main-eventer who sold out Madison Square Garden.
So was I… Although the film speaks superbly to the speed bumps all pro wrestlers navigate, I’m happy to report most of us don’t swerve off the road quite so severely.” WWE play-by-play commentator Jim Ross called it a “really strong, dramatic film that depicts how people who are obsessed with their own lives and their careers can self-destruct”.
Former WWE and TNA world heavyweight champion Mick Foley enjoyed the film, saying: “Within five [minutes], I had completely forgotten I was looking at Mickey Rourke. That guy on the screen simply was Randy ‘the Ram’ Robinson.” WWE Hall of Famer “Rowdy” Roddy Piper was said to have been highly emotional after watching a screening of the film. Aronofsky said of Piper: “He loved it. He broke down and cried in Mickey’s arms, so he was psyched that this story was finally told.” Insights on the film from Roddy Piper and other former pro wrestlers can be seen in Fox Searchlight Pictures’s “Wrestler Round Table”, which was included on the Blu-ray release of the film.
Pro wrestling manager and promoter Jim Cornette criticized the film for being an unrelentingly depressing view of the professional wrestling world, saying it was neither realistic nor accurate of the profession for most wrestlers involved in it.