WSJ Print Edition Reviews ‘Monster Factory’

WSJ Print Edition Reviews ‘Monster Factory' wsjnewspaper

WSJ Print Edition says the title will probably have viewers expecting some kind of a freak show, but the series, and the people in it, are disarmingly sweet, thoughtful, attractive, and devoted. For a few moments, it does seem that directors Galen Summer and Naiti Gámez have created a new hybrid genre—the documentary posing as a mockumentary: The wrestlers are all introduced as cast members playing alter egos: Amelia Herr as “Notorious Mimi”; the generously proportioned Hurley A. Jones Jr. as “Bobby Buffet”; Gabriella Belpre as “Gabby Ortiz”; and Lucas DiSangro as “Twitch.” What becomes clear soon enough is that these are the handles of the cast and their ring personae. And what becomes clearer still is that in the world of professional wrestling the “act” is as important as one’s physical prowess—which itself is far more about enduring pain than inflicting it.

“It’s more theater than a combat sport,” admits Mr. Cage. “But it hurts. You’re a stuntman.” Pulling punches, or rolling with them, is what gets taught at the Paulsboro club—along with ring maintenance, how to tie on a canvas, and how to behave. “Sweep the ring at the end,” he advises a student when she’s going to a WWE showcase. “Trust me.” Leaving the club as two grapplers enter the ring, he tells an assistant: “Don’t let them kill each other. And if they do, clean it up.”

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What can’t be imparted—though Mr. Cage tries his best—is a gift for self-promotion. The Monster Factory’s most promising student, Ms. Herr/Notorious Mimi, is a beautiful 19-year-old who was born into wealth and has been training for years, but she is all but impaired when it comes to devising an effective promo for herself. Twitch, conversely, speaks very frankly about being autistic and having Tourette syndrome, but he’s a natural on the microphone.

Also, WSJ Print Edition reported that even the promotional material for “Monster Factory” refers to the “Spandex-clad misfits” who number among the 40-odd wrestlers in Mr. Cage’s world, but the truth is they’re not so odd. Nor is it odd that they’re sympathetic: David Goldschmidt, for instance, who wrestles as “Goldy,” suffered debilitating anxiety and depression as a young kid, but the character Goldy is an obnoxious, privileged, arrogant Adonis of the type wrestling fans love to hate. Goldy couldn’t be more dissimilar from Mr. Goldschmidt, who seems far too nice to be a “heel” (or villain, in wrestling terminology, which Mr. Cage walks us through). But such is the point of “Monster Factory.” Wrestling is a lot of things. Therapy. Physical training. And the Yale School of Drama, with considerably more perspiration.

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