The partnership between WWE and Netflix is bringing some intriguing content to the streaming service in April. Already, The Big Show Show--a half-hour sitcom starring the wrestling giant--has premiered. Now, the first Netflix original film from WWE Studios is debuting.
The Main Event stars Seth Carr (Black Panther) as Leo Thompson, an eleven-year-old who finds a magical wrestling mask that gives him special powers and sets him on a journey to become a WWE Superstar. Imagine the 2002 family comedy Like Mike, but instead of old shoes and basketball players, it's a smelly luchador mask and WWE wrestlers.
WWE Studios has a spotty record with its film releases, including a long list of straight-to-DVD movies and a few box office bombs. There are some bright spots, though. In 2019, Fighting with My Family told the real-life origin story of WWE superstar Paige and was a critical success.
Now, with The Main Event, WWE Studios has a family comedy available to stream on Netflix at a time when large audiences are staying home to do just that. The movie, which stars a very funny cast and more than a handful of WWE's own wrestlers, is better than you might expect. Yes, the humor is childish and the story is emotional and full of heart in ways many of WWE's older fans may not appreciate. Still, The Main Event succeeds in its mission to create an entertaining film that the whole family can watch.
The story is incredibly simple and predictable. Leo, a smaller kid who often winds up the target of bullies, finds a magical mask, making him unnaturally strong and impervious to pain. He uses that mask to not only impress a girl he likes, but to sign up for a professional wrestling competition with a WWE NXT contract at stake. It should be noted that within the world of this movie, wrestling matches aren't choreographed, scripted or pre-determined. They're presented as actual athletic contests.
If you're asking yourself why WWE would allow a child to compete in wrestling matches against adults or how Leo's parents don't figure out what's happening or why more people's minds aren't blown upon learning magic is real, you're already thinking about this movie too hard. The Main Event is a fantasy story, filled with plenty of things that would not make sense in reality. After all, while Smackdown star Otis does a lot of silly things in the ring, he's never finished off an opponent with a massive fart. In this movie, though, passing gas on your opponent is fair game and should provide some laughs for younger viewers.
Otis is one of a number of WWE superstars who appear throughout the film, some as their normal wrestling characters, while others take on new roles. Those you'll recognize include The Miz, Kofi Kingston, Corey Graves, Sheamus, and Renee Young--who shines as she takes on a distinctly more morbid tone than her normal WWE commentating. She's convinced someone's going to die during the competition, and her fascination disturbs Graves in one of the movie's funniest exchanges.
The standout among the WWE cast, though, is NXT wrestler Keith Lee. In the film, he plays Smooth Operator, one of Leo's opponents in the competition. The Main Event gives Lee far more dialogue than he's ever had on WWE TV, and it allows him to steal the show, whether he's giving Leo a pep talk or singing his way through wrestling promos--Did you know Keith Lee has the voice of an angel? You do now.
As for the non-wrestling cast, Carr and his fellow young castmates play their roles well. Carr, in particular, is very believable as a WWE superfan who's living his dream come true. The adults, meanwhile, bring plenty of comedy to the table. Adam Pally (Happy Endings) and Tichina Arnold (The Neighborhood) play Leo's dad and grandma, respectively, while Ken Marino (Black Monday) plays the loudmouth manager of Leo's biggest threat in the competition.
While it's set against the backdrop of WWE, The Main Event is ultimately the story of Leo looking for his own self-confidence, with or without a mask. It's a silly, family-friendly coming of age story that doesn't attempt to redefine the genre. Honestly, this is a story you've seen before, and a lot of the humor might be too juvenile for many older WWE fans. However, it's a relatable story, even with all of the pomp that comes with professional wrestling. And given that you might need movies to distract the kids in your life right now, it's arriving at the right time.