Unless you are a new fan, you know about the relationship between David Arquette and pro wrestling and his infamous WCW title win. He became a punchline and one of the biggest examples of a stupid idea from bad creative. Arquette took all of the bad publicity to heart and, with a career on the downward trajectory, he decided to train to be a pro wrestler to be taken seriously in this crazy world of pro wrestling. He was adamant to get respected by both the fans and wrestlers backstage. This documentary, directed by David Darg and Price James, is his road to the wrestling world and his position on it.
You Cannot Kill David Arquette goes into his personal life, his inner demons, his health problems, and all of this before getting into pro wrestling. You’ll see what his family and friends think of him and what happened to his career.
At first he is not taken seriously by family and friends, but he is adamant that he wants to enter the wrestling world at 46 years-old. After failing to participate in a Legends of Wrestling event where he was kicked out by one of the Nasty Boys and going into a wrestling convention with barely a few fans asking for his autograph, he decides to start on the lowest level: backyard wrestling. In said backyard wrestling shows some young wrestlers decided to teach him a lesson by beating the ever living shit out of him.
This incident leads Arquette into actually training for wrestling and getting into shape, with his final training being done in Mexico with DDP on a beach and with mexican wrestlers in Tijuana. He even becomes one of the street wrestlers for a day and even wrestles an event there. We see his rise throughout the wrestling world, from low level indies to his stint in Championship Wrestling From Hollywood up to his deathmatches. We also get a closer look at the Nick Gage incident. You know the one. Oh yeah, the camera crew was there and it is still gruesome to watch.
You Cannot Kill David Arquette is fascinating for anyone, not just wrestling fans. I watched it with someone who is not a wrestling fan who was saying “this is crazy” as it kept going. As a wrestling fan, I found the use of kayfabe interesting. I’m not 100% sure that everything that happened was not scripted.
There are a lot of wrestling fans and wrestlers who are shitting on Arquette at the beginning of the documentary, especially indy wrestlers and fans. But in all honesty, I don’t think that wrestling fans hate Arquette and it was amplified for the documentary. I have always seen that the jokes and comments are not at his expense, but at WCW for doing what they did. Books like “Death of WCW”, “Nitro”, and comments from DDP and other wrestlers have actually supported him and said that he was just a cool guy put into an uncomfortable position, a position that did not do him any favors in the media world. We even know how he gave what he earned to the family of Brian Pillman and Owen Hart. He really did not need to do all the crazy stuff he did because wrestling fans actually respect him, or at minimum liked him. We just respect him even more now and we just worry about his stunts.
There are some moments that are a pure wink wink nudge nudge that not all of this is completely real. We have Ken Anderson just yelling about Arquette, trying to make us believe that his hate is real, but in the credits we see them embracing. We see Arquette at the end just taking pictures with the indy wrestlers that hated him. At first the documentary leads us to believe that RJ City hates Arquette, but then we see their match and how they prepared it with an agent. Also, I really doubt that DDP and Arquette really trained for pro wrestling on a beach in Mexico, maybe just a session of DDP Yoga. This is obviously not done to fool the viewer, but to give it a more concrete narrative.
David Arquette’s journey into the wrestling world is nuts and I recommend You Cannot Kill David Arquette to fans and non-fans alike. It’s the story of a 46-year old man trying to get respect back in a business that just saw him as an interesting moment of ineptitude and to get the respect of everyone in his life, including the Hollywood world. But the way that the documentary is edited is what gives it its strength. I found the winks of kayfabe really awesome and in its own way, that showed that the filmmakers really got a grasp of how the basics of pro wrestling works.
At the end of the doc, we sympathize with the story. I wish I had the strength of Arquette to completely follow my dreams and my id. He did not need to wrestle again and be involved in deathmatches to gain a respect that he already earned. At least he has experienced the life of a pro wrestler and knows how much they suffer on the road for our entertainment. Even more important, at the end of the documentary, I just hoped that David Arquette is finally in a better mental state. You just can’t not love him after spending an hour and a half with him on his crazy adventures.