In keeping with the theme of Halloween, this was originally going to be posted in October, but I found it difficult to sit through an entire viewing of this movie despite its best efforts to move forward the zombie wrestler movie sub-genre movement. So themed-posts be damned, any month is a good month to watch zombie wrestler movies. Here’s a look at Pro Wrestlers vs. Zombies from the man who brought you Lucifer’s Unholy Desire and Breeding Farm.
With this movie being a low budget production I can only assume that there wasn’t enough time and/or money to film everything they wanted, or decided to edit out the parts that explained certain aspects of the plot to get it in right around 90 minutes. They could’ve at least had a wrestler named Michael “Let Me Tell You Something” Exposition much like how the Austin Powers franchise had Basil to explain important facts.
So Shane Douglas finds his lady friend, porn star Taya Parker, making out with a wrestler with the worst wrestling name this side of an NXT locker room, Battling Billy. Shane then decides to kill Billy via tombstone piledriver because Shane is the worst human being ever. Apparently, dying from a tombstone piledriver also causes you to foam at the mouth, and drive your red-headed brother Angus to turn to the dark side and summon a bus driving supernatural being. With the evil bus driver on his side, Angus sacrifices some random nurse, eats her heart, and that somehow transforms her into a zombie which he can control. And through the nurse the zombie virus is spread.
Once that’s taken care of, Angus strikes a deal with creep promoter (and writer/directer) Cody Knotts to hold a show at West Virginia Penitentiary. Angus specifically asks for Shane and Taya. Cody decides to throw in “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, Matt Hardy, and Kurt Angle because he can use the cash. TNA financial problems LOL, etc. Now these wrestlers who have given more to professional wrestling than Shane Douglas ever did will have to fend for their lives too.
The movie keeps making you think Shane is going to be the redemption-seeking hero by having him Save the Cat, so to speak, via having a special bond with his nephew, Nicky. But then it quickly reminds you how shitty Shane Douglas (the character) is by having him make out with Taya – the woman he killed a dude for – and later knocking that same Taya off of her seat at some fast food joint because The Franchise plays hard to get. And he’s an asshole.
The charter bus taking the wrestlers to the prison is being driven by the supernatural entity that gave Angus his powers. So he can take human form, but the most you can expect from him to help out, aside from granting powers, is to drive a bus. Other than that, he’s sitting out the rest of the movie on the sidelines appearing to Angus in dreamy visions.
At the prison it doesn’t take long for the wrestlers to realize that the rest of the roster is made up of zombies, like a bad episode of WWE’s version of ECW. And they’re not your average slow-moving, flesh devouring, dopes. They can perform wrestling moves and carry out mundane tasks for Angus, like shifting furniture around for female sacrifices.
Kurt Angle is the first to turn and then is used to put other guys over, much like he’s been used for his entire career. Zombies keep coming out of nowhere and this show quickly becomes the most attended Extreme Rising event ever put on. One by one, wrestlers start to drop with some added help from Shane Douglas who keeps screwing everybody over, like the indie guys because “jobbers die, not main eventers.”
Matt Hardy and his wife Reby Sky get busy on the floor of some random room inside an abandoned prison, so they naturally turn because sex in a horror movie isn’t going to help you make it to the end. But don’t worry, Duggan’s 2×4 was put to good use when he put trifling Matt Hardy out of his brain-eating misery.
The last three remaining cast members consist of Shane, Piper, and Sarah, Extreme Rising’s new PR person and most objectified female behind Taya Parker, who we later find out also slept with Piper. So the whole zombie apocalypse thing is because of some ring rat and the fact that Shane is not a believer of the famous credo: “Ain’t not fun if the homies can’t have none.” At least not when it comes jobber homies.
The three make it outside but are surrounded by even more zombies, some of which have come up from the ground because the penitentiary is also now a cemetery. Shane is forced to confront his zombie family and puts each one down by mercifully snapping their necks, including little Nicky. The zombie battle continues and during it Shane finally gets his comeuppance. Having finally killed Shane, you’d think Angus would call off the zombie horde attacking Piper and Sarah since they had nothing to do with his brother dying, but no, Angus is a dick.
Sarah and Piper figure out that the spirit of the very much alive bus driver is not only living inside of the sacrificed female zombie, but Angus as well, and killing them will return everything to normal. Piper beats Angus down via his own cane with Angus no-selling the murdering whenever the camera focuses on him. Afterwards, Roddy Piper makes out with Sarah underneath the American flag because how else would you think this movie would end? It also reveals to the audience that Piper was the main character all along even though he wasn’t introduced until 20 minutes into the movie.
In case you’re left wondering why the charter bus driver was so evil and powerful like I was, it turns out on IMDB he is credited as being the Aztec god, Tezcatlipoca. Which Wikipedia states as a god associated with the night sky, the north, the earth, obsidian, enmity, discord, rulership, divination, temptation, jaguars, sorcery, beauty, war and strife. You know, all the things associated with zombies.
You better believe a movie called Pro Wrestlers vs. Zombies is going to have a crapload of wrestling moves, even if they make no sense when battling zombies. You have a wrestler doing a somersault dive from the top rope onto a waiting group of zombies on the outside and actually surviving. Hell, the same guy does a Rob Van Dam-like karate kick from the top rope, but nails the zombie in the chest instead of the head!
Shane Douglas breaks the ultimate carny rule of protecting your opponent inside the ring. And this wasn’t no Owen Hart miscalculated tombstone piledriver. Shane purposely used this move to kill Battling Billy. Weird how Battling Billy wasn’t one of the zombies to come back and go after Shane. You would think he would, right? Maybe he was just another face in that mob of zombie enhancement talent and I couldn’t tell.
With actual wrestlers as part of the cast it’s kind of hard to actually mess up any of the wrestling. Granted, most of the wrestling moves are a bit contrived because wrestler or not, if you’re faced against a mob of zombies chances are you’re not going to put one of them in an ankle lock. You’re going to want to bash their heads in like everybody alive knows you’re supposed to. A Super Dragon-esque curb stomp would make more sense even with the time it takes to set up the move. Although it was cool seeing Kurt Angle rip a zombie’s foot off from the sheer force of the ankle lock.
The zombie wrestlers themselves can’t seem to break kayfabe to actually try and eat the wrestlers. Most of the time they’re busy throwing forearm clubs to the small of the back of Roddy Piper or something. They’re like fresh out of wrestling school graduates. I’m surprised they weren’t throwing dropkicks left and right.
Pro Wrestlers vs. Zombies is to Shane Douglas as No Holds Barred was to Hulk Hogan. if Hulk Hogan had died towards the end and Bill Eadie (Ax from Demolition) ended up with Joan Severance. Seriously, the nickname franchise was probably dropped more times than the n-word in Quentin Tarantino’s Django. A casual fan who started watching wrestling 10 years ago would’ve thought Shane Douglas co-headlined the first WrestleMania with Roddy Piper the way he’s cast in this movie.
Roddy Piper is the one true legend in the movie so it makes sense that he survives and gets the girl at the end. You got to hand it to Cody Knotts for having one of the best wrestlers on the mic in his movie and giving him quotable lines like, “I hate zombies.” The man who famously said, “I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass… and I’m all out of bubblegum,” is given the line “I hate zombies” and is repeatedly spitting in the most exaggerating way throughout the movie.
“Hacksaw” Jim Duggan only serves two purposes in this movie: to bash zombies heads in with his 2×4 and, along with Piper, tug on all of our heartstrings. Piper discovers a zombified Duggan munching on a person’s arm and struggles with whether or not he should put him out with his own 2×4. It’s emotionally gripping and a nice callback to their inseparable relationship on WWE Network’s Legends’ House. Continuity!
It’s hard to tell if the Matt Hardy in Pro Wrestlers vs. Zombies was merely acting or battling demons during the shooting of this movie. He consistently looks spaced out, whether he was being a sleaze bag on the bus with women that weren’t his wife, or doing his wife, Reby Sky, on the floor of some room in an abandoned prison.
Kurt Angle makes a brief cameo because apparently Cody Knotts had some spare cash. There’s also a few indie guys, but the clear standout is the “Neon Ninja” Michael Facade. He’s the one doing the cool flippy shit. But more importantly, Kevin Sullivan also makes a quick appearance in the opening montage of the saddest indie wrestling show and then is not used at all. Even though he was a trailblazer in the area of supernatural-themed wrestling gimmicks. He should’ve been The Master of this Dungeon of Doom-like collection of horrible zombie wrestlers!
The movie was supposed to include Raven, Terry Funk, and Larry Zbyszko, but chances are they read the script beforehand and reneged on their letters of intent.
Star Rating: **