Two monsters seek to destroy each other as they carve a path of violence throughout a dark, murky swamp. A heroic masked man embroiled in a war with a sadistic zealot, a war that promises a gruesome end as both men seek to rip out each other’s eyes. To most people, those sentences read like the plots to a pair of low budget horror films, yet we wrestling fans know the ugly truth. This is what we’ve been told to prepare ourselves for tonight when WWE presents its latest Extreme Rules event, which has been dubbed “The Horror Show.”
There are many jokes to be made about WWE’s “Horror Show” tagline (and most have been made already). The way they’ve carried themselves during the COVID-19 pandemic, from firing numerous talents in a year where they will still be immensely profitable, to the restriction bending ways they’ve continued to operate, have made them come across as vile and scary as any horror movie villain. I’m not sure if “The Horror Show” name is a matter of self-awareness or a lack of awareness; all I know is that the appeal of said event is based solely on the train-wreck nature of the two top matches. We are not being promised the “Greatest Wrestling Match Ever” like we were at Backlash. In fact, what’s being advertised should be far from it. When WWE Champion Braun Strowman battles Bray Wyatt (reviving his original cult leader character in favor of his Fiend gimmick), it will be in a Swamp Fight cinematch. Sounds silly, but if it leans closer to the Boneyard Match from WrestleMania and not the potty humor campiness of this year’s Money In The Bank, it should be good. I can’t say the same for Seth Rollins and Rey Mysterio, two of the most talented people in all of wrestling, who are being hindered by their “Eye For An Eye” stipulation, a match which promises some form of CGI effect so that it actually looks like a person’s eye has been removed.
Think about that. Rey Mysterio, a lucha libre legend who made it through the darkest days of WCW, now taking part in a match with a stipulation stupider than anything he was ever presented with in that era. Seth Rollins, who has rightfully caught a lot of flack and lost goodwill with fans due to how he carries himself outside of the ring, is being put into a spot where the trolls will come out in full force and berate him for his role in the match. I don’t envy the spot that either of these guys have found themselves in, even though their feud, at it’s core, is actually very good. Although I’m a horror movie fan, I don’t think there’s any appeal in having wrestling incorporate it to this extent. I can handle undead bikers and their burnt brothers; Undertaker and Kane are two of the most prolific characters in WWE history. Rey Mysterio and Seth Rollins are better than these silly gimmick limitations, especially since I’m not sure an “Eye For An Eye” match is capable of having a Dusty Finish.
That’s not to say WWE can’t do horror, because they’ve done it quite well with movies released by WWE Studios. Kane transcended his monster status from the ring to film in See No Evil and its sequel, but his Jacob Goodnight character never reached iconic slasher status like Freddy and Jason. Truth be told, WWE’s best foray into the world of horror featured Brodus Clay of all people. No One Lives, released right around the time Brodus was getting down and gaining traction as the Funkasaurus, is one of WWE’s lesser hyped cinematic ventures, but in the upper echelon of WWE Studios releases. In wrestling terms, it’s the sleeper match on the undercard that gets overshadowed by the bigger names in the main event.
The premise of No One Lives is a bit different than your standard thriller. A family of criminals kidnap Betty and her boyfriend, Driver (Luke Evans, aka Owen Shaw from the Fast & Furious franchise). Thinking them to be wealthy, the family kidnaps the couple, and it’s up to Brodus himself (in the role of Ethan) to intimidate and interrogate them. That goes about as well for Brodus as any hopes of a World Title run, because it turns out that Driver is actually a sociopath serial killer. When Betty (it’s implied she’s a victim of Driver who developed Stockholm Syndrome) ends her own life by way of Ethan’s knife, Driver snaps, makes quick, bloody work of Ethan, and decides that everyone else has to die too, especially since they’ve now discovered the missing girl that’s been locked in the trunk of his car.
I previously reviewed No One Lives for Bullet Proof Action, and didn’t want to simply copy and paste previous thoughts here. Instead, I went to someone who had yet to see the film for their thoughts. It turns out that my good friend and the big boss man of Bulletproof Action, Chris The Brain, still hadn’t sat down for it, so he queued up his Tubi app and lent me his feedback once the film was over.
Chris The Brain: The inclusion of the big as a dinosaur Brodus Clay in 2012’s No One Lives was Pro Wrestling casting 101. You want a larger than life character in your movie that doesn’t look like the average guy walking down the street? Look no further than professional wrestling.
Seeing Brodus Clay’s Ethan posing as a mover in his first scene in No One Lives, took me back to the 1988 comedy Moving where the legendary King Kong Bundy played a mammoth mover. But the comparisons between Moving and No One Lives ended there as this horrific tale of bad guys being killed in gruesome fashion by an even badder guy started to unfold.
Brodus Clay’s time in the film was brief but impactful as his character is a major part of a surprise reveal that I don’t believe I will ever forget. To paraphrase the great Jim Ross, Brodus maximized his minutes in No One Lives.
I believe WWE Studios should do more films like No One Lives, where one of their superstars has a small supporting role and aren’t required to carry the entire picture. The superstars involved would still get exposure to an audience outside of the wrestling bubble and their inclusion would still encourage wrestling fans to check out a movie they may have otherwise skipped over.
It’s my guess that No One Lives suffered by not having a more mainstream name like John Cena or Triple H involved, and that’s why any talk of it on WWE programming was so miniscule. Brodus’ role wasn’t extensive, but as CTB pointed out, he played a part in one of the most memorable scenes in the film. Much like Bam Bam Bigelow’s relatively quick (and odd) demise in Snake Eater III, it feels like the producers didn’t take full advantage of the behemoth despite him being a pushed WWE star and this being a WWE Studios release.
Though it didn’t get the hard sell from the announcers during RAW, or a large media push, No One Lives is actually one of the better entries in the WWE Studios filmography. If you’re looking to avoid “The Horror Show” this Sunday night, or decide to wash away the bad taste it leaves with something different, this is a film that can do the trick. It’s more intriguing, more interesting, and has a better final act than either of the “cinematches” this weekend are likely to have. Check it out while it’s streaming free on Tubi, or pick it up on the cheap on DVD.