Existing in its own niche somewhere between legitimate sports and Hollywood entertainment, pro wrestling caters to its devoted fan and inspires dreams of fame and fortune. But far from the bright lights and pyro of the WWE or even Ring Of Honor, there lies the indie circuit. A life of low paying matches fought in high school gymnasiums. All for the chance to move up to one of the bigger federations. This is the world of Powerbomb, the debut feature from writer/directors R. Zachary Shildwachter and B.J. Colangelo.
Matt Cross (Matt Capiccioni who actually does wrestle under the name Matt Cross) is a star on the indie circuit. But that isn’t paying the bills. In part because his manager Solomon (Aaron Sechrist) keeps ripping him off. His wife Amy (Roni Jonah, Volumes Of Blood, Cannibal Cop), herself a former wrestler, is doing her best to raise their son and pay the bills. But she’s reaching the end of her rope. Matt may need to get a real, paying job.
When Paul (Wes Allen, The Legend of Holcomb Road), an obsessed fan of wrestling in general and Matt in particular hears this he’s crushed. Taking desperate measures he drugs and kidnaps Matt. He’ll keep him chained up in his basement until he can convince him to change his mind.
Despite the incredibly misleading poster that portrays it as a horror film, Powerbomb is more of a cross between a drama and a thriller. Think The Wrestler mixed with Martin Scorsese’s The King Of Comedy and Misery. And while I’d have rather gotten a horror wrestling hybrid, this is enjoyable for what it actually is.
The domestic drama elements are solid and thankfully not overdone. They’re convincing enough to sell the characters through the rest of the film. The scenes between Matt and Paul have just enough of an edge to them that you’re never sure just what Paul will do next. Or what he’s capable of doing. They’re effectively creepy. The scenes of Solomon trying to pressure Amy back into the ring aren’t as effective. Solomon comes off as a bit too much of a cartoon bad guy for them to be as menacing as they could be.
I was a bit concerned about the casting as most of the leads were played by non-actors. However, Capiccioni is surprisingly good as Cross. Fellow indie wrestler Britt Baker is also solid as Amy’s friend Kelsi. Having them and several other wrestlers in small parts gave Powerbomb, and some of its conversations about that life, a feeling of authenticity. Musician/graphic designer Sechrist is convincingly sleazy as Solomon, even if the character seems more like a ring persona than an actual manager.
Wes Allen, who came up with the original story, gives himself a showcase. He plays a character who’s obviously as much mentally ill as he is an actual villain. I kept going back and forth from wanting him to get help to wanting him to get his ass kicked.
Powerbomb is an interesting, and effective film. Just don’t expect machete-wielding luchadors. You can pair it with Nail in the Coffin- The Fall and Rise of Vampiro if you want them.
Powerbomb is available on DVD and digital from Indican Pictures.