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Fighting with My Family is a dramedy bio film, directed by Stephen Merchant and produced by Dwayne Johnson. It tackles the subject of Professional Wrestling.

Based off the 2012 documentary of the same name, the film follows the Bevis family. Well they prefer to be known as the Knights. They are a wrestling family - of parents Patrick and Julia (ring names Ricky and Saraya respectively), brother Zak and daughter Saraya. The latter is best known as Paige. Both Saraya and Zak try out for WWE. Guess which one makes it.

The film stars Florence Pugh in the lead role, Jack Lowden as Zak, Nick Frost and Lena Headey as their parents, Vince Vaughn as developmental trainer Hutch Morgan, Dwayne Johnson as himself, and actual pro wrestler and actress Thea Trinidad as A.J. Lee.


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Tropes:

  • Abled in the Adaptation: The documentary the film is based on shows Zak getting his knee injured weeks before Saraya leaves for Florida. The film omits the Game-Breaking Injury.
  • Action Dad:
    • Ricky Knight, The Patriarch of the Bevis/Knight family.
    • Zak midway through the film once his child is born.
    • While not mentioned, Dwayne Johnson has three daughters during the film's release (though two of them aren't born yet in the film's timeline). Same goes for Big Show. note 
  • Action Mom: Sweet Saraya, the Matriarch of the Bevis/Knight family. Also Jeri-Lynn, one of Saraya's three contemporaries in NXT.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job:
    • Downplayed. Saraya has the same stringy black hair as a child. In real life she's naturally blonde and didn't dye her hair black until her late teens.
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    • Sweet Saraya's dyed hair is Rosewood red for most of the film. In the documentary the film is based on, her hair is dyed Crimson red.
    • Jack Lowden gets to keep his hazel blonde hair despite the real Zak Bevis being dirty blonde.
  • Adaptation Origin Connection: Wrestlers wearing the wrestling gears of Kelly Kelly, Eve Torres, and Alexa Bliss are contemporaries of Paige in the film. In real life, the first two were on the main roster and were on their way out of the company by the time Paige debuted whereas the latter only had her televised debut match when Paige already moved to the main roster.
  • Adaptational Angst Upgrade: The real Zak Zodiac, while still pissed at being rejected by WWE, took the rejection more gracefully than what the movie depicts.note  Paige is also depicted as a total loner in her early days instead of gradually having friends like the real one.
  • Adaptational Curves: A.J. Lee was famous for her skinny, waify frame. Thea Trinidad is much curvier and better endowed.
  • Adaptational Modesty:
    • Subverted by A.J. Lee. In the film, she’s wearing a robe over her wrestling gear which consists of short shorts and a midriff revealing top. The real AJ wore similar gear but never wore robes in her entrances during her WWE career. Also, the movie AJ wears a more revealing top.
    • Paige herself in the movie tends to wear full sized t-shirts, which contrasts her significantly with all of the other female wrestlers in bikinis, while the real Paige tended to wear similar attire just in black and purple. Even in her climactic match against AJ, Paige wears a black corset and short shorts. note .
  • Adaptational Skimpiness: The film's version of A.J. Lee has wrestling gear that includes a Cleavage Window and exposes her shoulders. The most amount of skin the real AJ showed were her legs and her midriff, and they were never emphasized. note 
  • Adapted Out:
    • Paige's older half-sister (who was featured in the documentary this film is based on) doesn't appear in the film nor is she mentioned.
    • Paige's trainers during her time in WWE developmental included Bill DeMott, Dusty Rhodes, and Sara Amato. In their place in the film is a fictional Composite Character named Hutch Morgan.
    • Paige mentioned that Summer Rae was one of her earliest friends but she is nowhere to be seen in the film. Likewise, Paige's contemporaries Sofia Cortez, Emma, and Audrey Marie are also absent.
    • Paige's entire run as NXT Women's Champion is omitted.
    • When Paige defeated A.J. Lee for the Diva's Championship, the latter had Tamina Snuka serving as her enforcer. Here, A.J. is all alone.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: Saraya is out of place amongst the other glamorous Divas when she shows up in WWE. Truth in Television - as she says her Only Friend was Summer Rae when she first went to train.
  • Aloof Dark-Haired Girl: Due to her prior experience and upbringing, Saraya is dismissive of her three contemporaries, who she believes are fame-hungry Faux Action Girls who only got Hired for Their Looks. She eventually warms up to them.
  • Amazonian Beauty: The three girls Paige trains with in NXT are all presented as muscular glamorous beauties compared to her.
  • An Aesop: "Never give up", "Glory isn't everything", "Picking yourself up after failure", "Acceptance", "Humility", "Don't judge a book by it's cover", and "Be Yourself" are the messages the movie wants to point.
  • And Starring: "With Vince Vaughn and Dwayne Johnson".
  • Artistic License – History: Enough to have its own article.
  • As Himself: Dwayne Johnson, Sheamus, Big Show, The Miz, and John Cena all appear playing themselves.
  • Badass Family: This is a Biopic about a real Wrestling Family.
  • Bar Brawl: Zak gets into one near the end of the film. Ricky bails him out.
  • Based on a True Story: Uniquely enough to be produced while the subject was still actively wrestling.note 
  • Berserk Button: Downplayed. When meeting the (potential) in-laws, they comment on wrestling being fake. An awkward silence ensued for a few seconds before explaining with gritted teeth that it is not fake, but fixed. note 
  • Bittersweet Ending: For Zak. He did not realize his dream of becoming a WWE superstar, but he eventually makes peace with it and the film ends with him having a family of his own and his beloved sister, whom he shared that dream with, winning the Diva's Championship in her debut match.
  • Book-Ends: The film opens with A Minor Kidroduction for Saraya and Zak dreaming of becoming WWE superstars. The film ends with a closeup shot of Sara and Zak's pictures as children (as they were in the prologue) right after Saraya wins the Diva's Championship in her debut match.
  • Breakup Breakout: invoked The film's driving plot, centering on a tight-knit Brother–Sister Team until one gets to achieve their dream and succeed while the other has to make peace with being left behind.
  • Brick Joke: Meta example. Earlier in the film, the Bevis/Knight family mentions eldest son Roy being imprisoned. Cue the Real Person Cameo and Stealth Pun below.
  • Career-Ending Injury: Hutch reveals to Saraya that before becoming a trainer he was a wrestler himself, and shattered his shoulder doing the dangerous stunts that made the stars look good. He does this as a warning, that many pro wrestlers end up hurt long before they can make a name for themselves.
  • Celebrity Paradox: Since Thea Trinidad is playing A.J. Lee in this film, one has to wonder about the existence of Zelina Vega down the line. There's also the Real Person Cameo from both Roy and Zak Bevis.
  • Chekhov's Hobby: The prologue shows Saraya being a fan of Charmed (1998). She eventually gets her most famous ring name from one of its main characters.
  • Chew-Out Fake-Out: The Rock appears to be unloading on Paige and Zak, but he's actually showing them the kind of speech that will win over the crowd.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: There's a bit of cursing from all of the family members.
  • Composite Character:
  • Creator Cameo: Stephen Merchant has a small role as the father of Zak's fiancee.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Saraya trained by getting a 'receipt' every time she botched a move. In WWE she finds they don't do that.
  • Demoted to Extra: The real Roy Knight frequently appears in the documentary this film is based on. Here, he's The Ghost for most of the film due to being imprisoned.
  • Deuteragonist: Zak is the focus of the film after Saraya, with him having to deal with his WWE rejection being the film's secondary plot.
  • Do Wrong, Right: The trailer shows Ricky finding Zak choking Raya. He then shows him the proper way to apply a headlock.note 
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Hutch Morgan is extremely demanding as a trainer. It's perfectly justified when you realize he's trying to make sure the wrestlers don't hurt themselves.
  • Dude Looks Like a Lady: Pete Dunne according to Zak.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: For Saraya, as the film ends with her winning the Diva's Championship in her debut match.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: Saraya goes back to her black hair in the third act, but it's shown being styled a little more femininely - showing how she's become comfortable in herself.
  • Family Title: Again, Fighting with My Family.
  • Fat and Skinny: Zak's father and father-in-law respectively, as played by Nick Frost and Stephen Merchant.
  • Fish out of Water: Saraya is culture shocked upon living in the U.S.
  • Garbage Wrestler: Zak is seen participating in a hardcore match.
  • Girl Posse: Saraya encounters three mean girls who make fun of her near the beginning. Subverted with her three contemporaries, who she thought were this but are actually decent people.
  • Happily Ever Before: The film's epilogue doesn't state that Paige had to retire at the age of twenty-five due to injuries finally catching up with her, nor the controversies she got herself into prior to that.
  • Heel Realization: Paige struggles bonding with the other girls due to the culture shift and her own frustrations that they don't actually know how to wrestle because they were Hired for Their Looks. She perceived them as a Girl Posse edging her out, only to learn one of them had a daughter and she never bothered to bond with them either. The following Training Montage includes her making the effort to befriend and even teach them how to wrestle.
  • Hidden Depths: The three girls who Paige butts heads with at camp. She dismisses them as a mindless Girl Posse who got in through their tits instead of their skills, but one of them is actually fighting for her daughter and they all call her out for judging them despite not knowing them at all.
  • Historical Badass Upgrade: The film's version of Paige's triumphant WWE main roster debut is much more intense and hard-hitting compared to the actual match - which was a Squash Match.
  • Historical Beauty Update:
    • Even with the make-up on, Lena Headey is a lot more conventionally attractive than the real Julia/Sweet Saraya.
    • Jack Lowden is a bit more of a Pretty Boy than Zak. He's also in much better shape than the real guy too. The documentary the film adapts depicts Zak being told that his physique is one of the reasons he's not signed. In the film he's just as good as the rest of them.
    • Florence Pugh herself is an aversion. The documentary the film is adapted from has a whole section on Saraya's beauty, and how marketable she is. In fact the film almost downplays her beauty, emphasizing how out of place she feels against more glamorous girls.
  • Historical Villain Downgrade: The film actually tones down how Paige was treated when she first arrived at developmental. She's shown to be self absorbed and Innocently Insensitive - alienating some of her contemporaries until they become Fire-Forged Friends. In real life she was bullied to the degree that her things were thrown out of the locker room, and Summer Rae was literally her Only Friend.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: The crowd during her WWE debut match are jeering Paige whereas the real Paige was audibly cheered during the actual event.
  • Ironic Inversion: Zak has been dreaming of being a wrestler his whole life, while Saraya just did it for fun. It's her who gets signed by WWE and ends up becoming a worldwide champion.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Coach Hutch is relentless as a Drill Sergeant Nasty and constantly criticizes and mocks the candidates for various things, including their outfit, choice of Stage Name, failing at training exercises and lack of good microphone skills. He does deal out praise at times, showing his tactics are Cruel to Be Kind because wrestlers do get hurt and the audience will be just as harsh on them.
  • Job Title: Fighting with My Family is about a Real Life Wrestling Family.
  • A Minor Kidroduction: The film opens with Zak and Saraya as children respectively fighting over watching either King of the Ring 2000 or Charmed (1998).
  • Ms. Fanservice: Saraya's three main contemporaries, who are all prone to (and were introduced in) Walking Swimsuit Scenes.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • The family's penis jokes on Zak's expense references the actual documentary in which they made similar remarks.
    • During a house show, Paige was told she would get her mouth fixed. In the actual documentary, Paige is seen doing just that (with the Adapted Out older half-sister mentioned above being her surgeon).
    • The Rock mockingly calls Hutch "Sex Tape". Before the film's release, the real Saraya had her privacy compromised.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: A lot of WWE talents during Paige's time in developmental are featured as side characters without actually being named, specifically Summer Rae, Sofia Cortez, Kelly Kelly, Eve Torres, Alexa Bliss, and Pete Dunne. British talents Jodie Fleisch and Kip Sabian also feature as un-named Performance Center trainers.
  • "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer: During the movie Saraya's father Patrick explains how he was a violent criminal who served jail time. In the Real-Person Epilogue he says the same thing almost line for line.
  • Obvious Stunt Double: Tessa Blanchard as Paige is very noticeable when AJ did the superplex during the climatic battle.
  • Oddly Small Organization: Due to Vince Vaughn's Hutch being a Composite Character, he does just about every job from the tryouts, physical training, image consulting, manager AND stage manager. The reality is there would be multiple people for each position at the minimum.
  • One Steve Limit: The reason why Saraya drops her Britani Knight stage name is because she was told WWE already has a Britani. Also worth mentioning is that her mother's stage name is Sweet Saraya.
  • Race Lift: In the actual WrestleMania XXX match, A.J. Lee submits Naomi to retain her Diva's Championship. The movie version has AJ submitting a blonde woman.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: During his first match with Saraya, Zak wears the Kimberly Hart Pink Ranger suit.
  • Real Person Cameo:
    • The real Roy Bevis plays the wrestler who slams the film Zak onto thumbtacks during his dark period
    • The real Zak Bevis himself shows up as a gang leader who is corrupting one of the film version's students.
  • Real-Person Epilogue: The CBB of the film features clips from the documentary the film is based on as well as the actual match between the real Paige and A.J. Lee.
  • Real Women Don't Wear Dresses: Subverted. Paige believes in this, dismissing former cheerleaders, dancers and models as just Ms. Fanservices there for fame. Not only does she find out one of the other girls is giving up time with her daughter to train, it's soon clear that they're in much better shape than her.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Once Zak overcomes his depression, he started to repair the damages he did and the last thing he has to do is to reconnect with his estranged students, who are now being taken by gang members, whose leader is played by the real Zak.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Zak's father-in-law and father respectively, being a posh educated man and a career wrestler.
  • Sexy Santa Dress: Saraya wears one during her homecoming match against Zak.
  • Sibling Rivalry: The film shows Saraya and Zak growing apart due to the former's success.
  • Slobs vs. Snobs: The Bevis/Knights and the family of Zak's fiancee, respectively. The former is a boisterous Wrestling Family while the latter family is refined and posh (as Ricky puts it).
  • Sophisticated as Hell: Zak's posh mother-in-law is seen getting incredibly into Paige's match with AJ.
  • Stealth Pun: Doubles as Historical In-Joke. As mentioned in Artistic License – History above, the film version of Roy Bevis is said to be imprisoned. The real Roy later makes a Real Person Cameo as film version Zak's opponent in a steel cage match.
  • Survivor Guilt: A non-fatal example. Saraya feels guilty for being chosen over Zak, who has dreamed being in WWE more than she does.
  • Talent Double: Tessa Blanchard acted as a stunt double for many of Florence Pugh's wrestling scenes.
  • Time-Shifted Actor: Saraya and Zak are played by different actors in the prologue set during the early 2000s.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Zak's mother-in-law and mother respectively, being a posh educated man and a career wrestler, though the former is later revealed to be Sophisticated as Hell.
  • Tomboyish Baseball Cap: Saraya is often wearing one, as the real lady is prone to.
  • Training Montage: This is a movie about Professional Wrestling after all. Mainly during Saraya's time in WWE developmental.
  • Turn of the Millennium: The film's prologue shows Paige and Zak watching The Rock winning his fifth World Title in King of the Ring 2000 as well as Charmed (1998).
  • Unkempt Beauty: Played with, Saraya feels very out of place compared to the professional models and cheerleaders she's competing against. She decides to give herself a makeover with platinum blonde hair and a spray tan, which doesn't go over well, and she goes back to her (relative) natural look when she gets a new resolve to Be Yourself.
  • Uptown Girl: Zak's fiancee (later wife) comes from a posh family.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: There's a gag where Zak asks his father to put a shirt on before his fiancee's parents come for dinner. Ricky responds "how posh are they?"
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: It mentions how Paige is still the youngest Divas Champion (failing to mention that the title was retired at WrestleMania 32 and replaced by the WWE Raw Women's Championship as part of WWE's transition away from the term "Diva") and was an early leader behind the ongoing Women's Revolution and mentioning that one of Zak's trainees, who was blind, became a wrestler while humorously mentioning The Rock's movie career and Ricky Knight trying to sell shares in the family's business.
  • Wolverine Publicity: Notice how The Rock is given equal prominence in the posters along with Paige? He has only three scenes in the movie, one near the beginning and two towards the end.
  • Wrestling Family: The movie is about one, the Bevises (or Knights in Kayfabe).
  • "YEAH!" Shot: The Bevis/Knight family when Saraya wins the Diva's Championship for the first time.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Invoked and Played for Laughs. The Miz is seen trying to flirt with Saraya's contemporaries during WrestleMania XXX. He recently got married at that time.
  • Your Costume Needs Work: At one point, Dwayne Johnson decides to do Paige a favor and call her father to let him know she hung out with him. Her father doesn't believe it's him, and says he has to have the worst Dwayne Johnson impression ever.


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