Les Reines du Ring is WWE’s first attempt at utilizing WWE Studios to co-produce a movie about wrestling. And not lame ass amateur wrestling like Legendary starring John Cena, but good ol’ “Sports Entertainment” professional wrestling. Apparently, the film must’ve done well in France for WWE to consider remaking it for U.S. audiences in order to save us the trouble from reading subtitles. So get to know Les Reines du Ring before its potential American remake is released and take pleasure in the fact that France is capable of producing by-the-numbers Hollywood saccharine crap, and not just avant-garde, art house films like Holy Motors.
Rose is a single mother just trying to do right by her son after being released from prison. Which we later find out was for (spoiler alert!) MURDER. She had a totally good reason though, I just can’t remember what it was. Her wrestling-loving son wants nothing to do with her, so when Rose gets a job at a local supermarket her first instinct is to band together with three of her coworkers and coerce them into becoming wrestlers with her. All in the name of eliminating the awkward silences that permeate the room when she visits her son.
Her rag-tag group of stablemates include Colette, the taken-for-granted, cheated-on wife and mother of two; Jessica, who seems sex crazed but also wants to settle down; and Viviane, the gothic, lanky, outcast butcher. And molding them into professional wrestlers is retired legend, Richard Lionheart, Chris Jericho’s French grandpa, or the Frankie Dunn to Rose’s Maggie Fitzgerald.
The training montages, which make up a good 25% of the movie, consist of them actually wrestling in the ring to playing WWE 2K13 on Colette’s kid’s PS3. But their moves are not just confined to the squared circle in both physical and digital form. During a girls’ night out, the ladies decide to beat the shit out of a couple of dude bros inside a night club.
Rose becomes really close to Colette, the only other woman in the group who has kids, and the only other character who is more than just a basic archetype. So when Colette finds out that Rose lied to her about why she was sent to prison, she gets so upset that she rats Rose out to their supervisor. Who, in turn, future endeavors Rose from her position as a cashier. Rose naturally reacts violently, being a former felon and all, which doesn’t help her cause. During an exhibition match in front of their first real crowd, Rose goes full-on Yoshiko on Colette’s ass. Well, maybe not full-on, but she does break the ultimate carny rule and shoots on Colette, damn-near breaking her nose. It’s at this moment that Rose realizes that her son is in the crowd looking on. She tries to appeal to him, but he’s clearly taken aback by his mom’s commitment to kayfabe.
The future of the wrestling gala (damn French know how to make everything seem classier) is in question when Tonio, the guy who’s supplying the Queens with their opponents: four luchadora pros, pulls out of the event. Richard also calls it quits after Rose’s blatant disregard for safety. Eventually the other three convince Richard to continue training them, which leads to Richard convincing Tonio, via a pissing contest to see who can hit a seagull first, to bring the luchadoras back on board.
Rose makes peace with her teammates and even gets her old job back. Everything’s coming up Roses! The Queens have come a long away. While not The Four Horsewomen of NXT, they’re leaps and bounds ahead of most of the Total Divas cast and ready for their match. Unfortunately, Rose ends up doing the job for her team. You didn’t actually think they’d win against seasoned vets, did you?
Movies about women wrestling were a lot more common back in the day, so it’s nice to see that this genre has been updated, even though it takes place in one of the countries you’d least associate with professional wrestling. Roland Barthes’ “The World of Wrestling” essay not withstanding. It’s also worth noting that this film was released before the whole #GiveDivasAChance hashtag took over twitter, and WWE’s version of the “Like A Girl” campaign had aired. With the perception of women’s wrestling evolving and finally gaining some traction on a more mainstream level thanks to Lucha Underground and NXT, WWE Studios would be foolish not to remake this movie for U.S. audiences. It’s Nacho Libre meets The Wrestler, but with female grapplers! Who wouldn’t want to see that?
There’s quite a bit of wrestling going on before we get to the main event. Not only do we see holds applied during the women’s training sessions, but they also apply it to their everyday lives. One such example is Jessica failing to catch a falling Basset Hound, reasoning that there’s no way she’ll be able to catch a flying luchadora. She’s basically The Miz of the group.
Rose also imparts her wrestling knowledge during her son’s birthday. Instead of admonishing the kids for wrestling each other, Rose teaches her kid how to safely perform an elbow drop on another little kid. I guess you can try this at home. So long as your rookie mom, who’s had a couple of months of training, shows you how.
At the big wrestling gala, the Queens have a hard time against the first two luchadoras, El Canibal and Santa Demona, but eventually tie up the match one fall to one. Despite Colette performing the slowest sunset flip and using a camel clutch as a transitional move instead of an actual submission hold. Jessica does a bit better with a cross body block, and her own version of Naomi’s Rear View.
In some kind of weird stipulation in which the other competitors can only enter the match in the third fall, Viviane finally enters the ring as Chainsaw Charlie’s long-lost daughter. Before the Queens can get the upper hand, Goya Kong and her sister Muñeca de Plata, the two biggest of the luchadoras, make their way out from under the ring. Why were they there the whole time? No fucking clue. Either way they beat the shit out of the Queens until Rose enters all Triple H like, but from WrestleMania 22, not like the cool “King of Kings” getup he had on at WrestleMania 30.
Rose jumps in double-clotheslining them without even making the hot tag. She then hits the luchadoras with huracanranas and baseball slide kicks. Rose even goes hardcore on their asses, steel chair and all. So this is a lucha tag rules, no disqualification match. I guess. Rose even has the gall to ask Muñeca de Plata to let her win because her son is the in crowd. Muñeca tells Rose that her kids are too. And she has like three of them so she’d be letting down even more children.
Rose continues taking on both Muñeca de Plata and Goya Kong by herself because if you wrestled in the previous two falls you can’t compete anymore. Rose eventually gets double teamed. Then Muñeca heads for the sky with a splash off the top rope and finishes the match. Deep down Muñeca just loved her kids more. She helps Rose up and the crowd cheers both teams anyway because the match was actually pretty good. And not for a women’s wrestling match, but a cinematic wrestling match in general. Although, if I was in attendance I’d be upset if the entire card of the wrestling gala consisted of this one match that lasted, at most, 15 minutes in real time.
The Miz, Eve Torres, and CM Punk make appearances via television screen, and that’s as far as we get in terms of WWE Superstar cameos. Without knowing anything about the actor who played Richard Lionheart you could tell he wasn’t a former wrestler, but was a lot more convincing than Martin Landau in Ready to Rumble. As for the luchadoras that the supermarket foursome face, who are affectionately referred to as “The Mexicans”, I can confirm that the two heavyweight luchadoras: Goya Kong and Muñeca de Plata, are actual pros who wrestle in Japan and Mexico’s CMLL.
Start Rating: **1/2