You can count the amount of wrestling themed horror movies that exist on fingers alone. That’s how few there are, however good wrestling themed horror movies you could count on one hand. Often played for laughs, dragging in a cast of over-the hill performers picking up an easy pay-check and little in the way of plot, we’re looking at you Pro Wrestlers vs. Zombies.
Simply put, for all its entertainment value, wrestling just doesn’t translate into horror effectively.
Well no more, as Powerbomb proves it has what it takes to step into the ring and emerge as the wrestling horror movie champion.
Directed by B.J. Colangelo and R. Zachary Shildwachter, Powerbomb chooses to focus its story not on the glitz and glamour of the likes of WWE or AEW but rather on the independent circuit. Where travelling night after night to gyms and bingo halls to wrestle to a handful of diehards for pittance is the way of life.
It’s the way of life for long-time indie wrestler Matt Cross (Matt Capiccioni) who is beloved by his fans but massively under-appreciated and under-paid by his bitter manager, Solomon (Aaron Sechrist).
Solomon is bitter as Cross’ wife, Amy (Roni Jonah) left wrestling when he was working on building up the married couple’s brand as a tag-team. He sees it that Matt owes him and that rebuilding his brand on the indie circuit is the only way to go.
Matt’s getting tired of the life though, constantly on the road away from his wife and child, for very little money. Contemplating on giving up wrestling altogether, his phone call to his wife is overheard by his biggest fan, Paul (Wes Allen).
The man decides to take matters into his own hands to ensure that his champion gets to the top by any means necessary. After being tasered in a car park, Matt awakes to find himself chained up in a basement. To survive, he’s going to have to work a crowd of one to the best of his ability.
A story-driven wrestling horror, Powerbomb is great thanks to the performances more than anything else. Matt Capiccioni as Matt Cross, an actual wrestler outside of this movie, is brilliant. A really likable and relatable character who has fantastic chemistry with Aaron Sechrist (who nails the sleazy manager role perfectly) and Wes Allen, as his captor.
The latter’s portrayal of an entitled, lazy and obsessive fan is really well done. Some may not like how on the nose the character is but they’d be fooling themselves if they don’t think this kind of character exists at every wrestling show on the planet. It’s that believability that drives so much of the interactions between this group.
Elsewhere, Roni Jonah nails the hard-working mother who gave up a career for her family. A career that she misses and finds herself wanting to go back to more and more. She’s torn and having her friend Kelsi (Britt Baker) in one ear and Solomon in the other, urging her to get back in ring isn’t helping.
It’s a fascinating look at the indie wrestling circuit on a more localised level. Albeit blended with torture and abuse. After all, it is a horror movie.
Sadly though, the movie does have a few botches here and there. The most notable being the finale which suddenly speeds everything up as if it is desperate to get things over with. Not only that, we also get some references and hints throughout that suggest something bigger is going on, yet these aren’t delivered on. Ambiguous? Yes, but this is a story where telling might have worked better than showing.
It’s easy enough to overlook the destination though as the journey is so good. While not a 5-star classic, Powerbomb is one match-up that everyone should check out.
The Final Score - 7.5/10