This picture here is with me and my girls wishing you a very Merry Christmaskunanzika and a Healthy Happy New Year!
I got a call from a buddy of mine, Scott Epstien, who said he was putting together a legends panel with Piper, The Hammer, Lex, Beefcake and asked me if I wanted to be a part of it. The funny part is I was trying to get an invite to the premier and now it is been handed to me along with being on the panel for The Wrestler with Fox Searchlight Pictures. Fox Searchlight has done pretty much every successful Indy movie you have seen so I knew it was going to be a first class act.
The Red Carpet premier was at Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Science in Los Angeles. I was supposed to meet Lex at the Red Carpet but his flight was delayed due to weather. While I was on the Red Carpet I got to meet Marisa Tomei, she is a sweetheart. When I got to the top of the stairs I ran into Beefcake and Valentine. I did not know this at the time but they had a lot to do with the behind the scenes research that went into The Wrestler. Brutus told me that he has known Mickey for years and was a close friend of his. Mickey spent a lot of time with him and Hammer in Florida getting the reel scoop on how it was back in the day…and they would know…J Brutus commented to me later the this movie is only the tip of the iceberg…we both laughed and in the same expression sighed…. Ahh wresting.
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I also ran into Ernest "The Cat" Miller who plays the Ayatollah that ends up being the arch rival of Mickey Rourke's Randy "The Ram" Robinson. I gotta tell you, Ernest did a hell of a job in and out of the ring. On a side note, Ernest will be playing a George Foreman in an upcoming HBO movie. As you will see he has already put on a bit of weight for that part as well LOL. Before the movie started Darren Aronofsky got up in front of the audience and talked about the making of the movie. He introduced the leads of the cast and then told the story of one of the screenings that was the highlight of all of the screenings. It was one when Hot Rod Roddy Piper was there and Piper said something like I don't know where you did your research from, but this is a story that needs to be told. It was very emotional for Roddy. What he said was way more elaborate and impactful than that but you get the idea. He then ask Roddy to please stand up "take a bow if you will". The crowd was very gracious. He then individually introduced Hammer, Brutus, myself, Flair and Lex….who wasn't there yet because of the flight delay. We all got a warm response. BTW Lex's journey makes Randy "The Ram" Robinson's journey a walk in the park...more on that later.
So what did I think about the movie…I thought Mickey Rourke was outstanding. He is truly one of the boys. I mean look at his checkered past. Take actor out and put wrestler anywhere along there. I actually went to a screening of the movie before I went to the premier because I wanted to go and hear the Q and A with Mickey.
For starters, I was a huge Mickey Rourke fan coming into this. From the Pope of Greenwich Village, Diner, Angel Heart to 9 1/2 weeks…this guy was the man. Then he fell from the grace of Hollywood, which he talked about in the Q and A. He talked about how wild and crazy he was and how he blew every unbelievable opportunity laying at his feet. He talked about all those years of not being able to find work and how grateful he was to have the opportunity to get back to work….I love the fact that this guys second chance came in the role of playing a wrestler. Which by the way, going into this movie he had no respect for wrestling at all…his words, not mine. You have to understand Mickey was a Pro Boxer. A lot of people thought he was nuts when he quit acting and started boxing. The back story is the Mickey was a Pro Boxer before he was an Professional Actor. There is a segment of boxers, Ali, Frazier, Tyson who love wrestling. And there is another sector of boxers who look down on it. Mickey was one of the latter of the group. That is until he stepped into the ring his first time as a wrestler.
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Once Mickey got into the ring he realized what everyone realizes.. you can't fake gravity. After hearing the detailed stories from Beefcake, Valentine and others he realized what we do in the ring is an athletic art form. At the Q& A he said he had so much respect for those of us who made our living in the squared circle. From what I could see he really got it in so many ways. And those of you who are the biggest wrestling critics will see it not only in his acting but in the ring. I was amazed by how good the wrestling is in this movie. There were no stunt double for Mickey Rourke. He did things that made me pop. They even came up with his own finish that I have never seen done before…the Ram Jam…see the movie to see this move. The coolest part was that Mickey really cared what the boys thought of his performance.
The Wrestler, the movie, is a heart wrenching tale of Randy "The Ram" Robinson. Rourke could be a number of guys, dead or alive that continue to go to the squared circle for the smell of the popcorn and the roar of the crowd. The Director Darren Aronofsky gives the brawler of his movie exactly the no BS honesty that it needs. Having worked some of the independent scenes watching the locker room scenes was a trip for me. I have to throw a flag though on the one scene with the Locker room steroids....that would never have happened. I am not saying it didn't happen but it would never have happened like that. But overall Aronofsky did a phenomenal job with this movie. Marisa Tomei plays an aging stripper, who by the way was smoking hot in this movie was dead on…I have always seen strippers a lot like wrestlers…once you get a taste of the money you can make in it, it is hard to walk away from it. That is one of the reasons why you see so many guys stay in the business for so many years….where can you go and make grand a night in the real world? You can't. Overall, the way I see it, Aronofsky legitimizes what we do not just as an art form but as a sport... showing the blood, the sweat and the tears.
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After the movie I walked up to Mickey and waited as one fan after another came up and congratulated him. He was very gracious and made everyone feel important. When he finally finished he turned to me and I introduced myself and he said "I know exactly who your are, what'd you think?" My response was "I thought you nailed it bro" … and he gave me a big hug. We talked for a bit about the movie and the round table Q and A that I attended. We took some pictures of my signal for the Diamond Cutter and his signal for the Ram Jam.
As I walked away from Mickey I caught Lex out of the corner of my eye. I snuck up behind him and gave him a huge hug. It's phenomenal to see Lex up and walking again. Of course he's taking baby steps with his cane but he's taking steps when all the odds where stacked against him that he'd never walk again. I'm going to get into detail on Lex in my next email but for now if you want to know where he's at read this article, it's very powerful.
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The next day I went to Fox Studios to meet the boys for a roundtable discussion that was hosted by sports anchor Damon Andrews. Damon was a total pro and asked each of us individual questions so he kept the conversation going so that no-one stepped on each other. Beefcake, Hammer, Piper, Lex.. each one was powerful with their presence and what they had to say. This is an interview you don't want to miss. It was a very professional three camera shoot and will be seen on Fox Searchlight "The Wrestler" website (www.foxsearchlight.com/thewrestler)… I will let you know about it once it's up there.. It's definitely worth the watch! For now you may want to go to the site and check it out. It'll let you know when The Wrestler is coming to your town, or close to your town. It also has some great interviews and footage on it.
In closing, we have had such a great response to the Holiday Pricing for the YRG Workout that we are going to keep the site up through the holidays and hold off on redoing the site for now. We just added another special, if you buy any 2 DVD sets you get Free Priority shipping (they tell me that means it gets to you in 2-3 days.) You can see the store at www.YRGWorkout.com
Happy Holiday, Stay Strong and Be Unstoppable
BANG! – DDP
YRG 4 Life!