I added something new to my obsessions last year and some would consider it a “guilty pleasure.” Yes, after Wrestlemania 32, I became a huge fan of professional wrestling, now tuning in weekly to the programming, even going as far as watching some of the independent promotions just as regularly. It was for this reason that the new Canadian romantic comedy Chokeslam played right into my wheelhouse, which worked in multiple ways. You see, I’m not exactly a new fan of sports entertainment, as I loved Hulk Hogan as a child and I watched the Attitude Era of the WWF and the “Monday Night Wars” between them and WCW. The makers of Chokeslam want to entice fans like that, as they want the nostalgia of watching wrestling with the older audience of understanding behind the scenes in these tiny companies. Well, to a certain extent.
The film follows Corey Swanson (Chris Marquette), a deli counter person living out a drab life in the small town he grew up in but never left. The movie opens with him being robbed at the counter with a gun in his face. As it turns out, the robber is one of the popular kids from Corey’s high school, Luke Petrie (Michael Eklund), a guy that has never lived up to any potential and is basic scum. Forming a quick friendship, Luke informs Corey that his high school sweetheart and the one who broke his heart is returning to town for a reunion and Corey starts to formulate a plan to win her back. The catch is that this love of his life is Sheena DeWilde (Amanda Crew), a tall and powerful woman wrestler who is on a bit of a downward spiral.
Chokeslam had me going pretty quick. The humor was simplistic, just like the script, but Marquette and Eklund are so much fun and have great deliveries of their lines. Heck, Eklund almost steals this movie completely. Then we get into some of the more wrestling-centric pieces and the local promotion is run by a former wrestler named Patrick, who is played by the legendary Mick Foley. If that wasn’t enough for me to “mark out” over, multi-time champion Lance Storm plays a small role as well as Impact Wrestling’s Laurel Van Ness. Needless to say, I really felt like I had met a good blend between my overwhelming interests. I could even get over the shoddy blocking to make Crew appear as if she was towering over everyone but they even got the stylized entrance for her over in an authentic way.
This is where my enjoyment started to falter because no matter how great any of the wrestling references are – Chokeslam has the flimsiest of plots and keeps finding itself going down a pathway we’ve seen far too many times before. This could have been a rom-com that used the wrestling base to be different but all the same tropes are used. The overbearing jealous boyfriend that starts to antagonize our main character, a reluctant female lead that wants out of her current situation and the obvious reignition early on of a spark between the two main characters. It all feels so stale and makes the “alls well that ends well” ending way too happy and convenient, just like the majority of the film. Chokeslam was a disappointment just in the fact that it lost me just as easily as it gained my appreciation. 1.5/5