Some of our readers will remember a recent, excited post about Stephen Merchant’s visit to Epic Studios in January. It was all a bit cloak and dagger at the time but some of you will now be aware of the full circumstances around his appearance at the studios. Merchant was here with a production team, researching and auditioning wrestlers for potential roles in an upcoming wrestling movie that he is writing and directing – based on our very own resident and favourite wrestling family, the Knights!
Epic Studios wrestling event fans will be familiar with the professional wrestling members of the Knight family; Ricky Knight (also trainer and owner of WAW), Saraya Bevis (AKA Sweet Soraya / Soraya Knight – also owner and operator of Bellatrix), their sons Zak and Roy Bevis (AKA the UK Hooligans, or ‘Zak Zodiac’ and ‘Zebra Kid’) and daughter Saraya-Jade Bevis (AKA Paige or Britani Knight, currently signed to WWE).
The Knight family were featured in a Channel 4 documentary ‘The Wrestlers: Fighting With My Family’ in 2012 and this series is where the inspiration came for a movie by the same name, after Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson came across it by chance on UK TV.
“Back in 2012, I was in my hotel room in London and stumbled across a documentary on a local UK channel.” He recently revealed. “Not only was I intrigued by this loving and wild family, but I also felt it’s the kind of narrative that would make an amazing movie. The Knights’ journey is a universal one, that all families are familiar with. I relate to Saraya (Paige) and her wrestling family on such a personal level and it means so much that I can help tell their story.”
Soon after deciding that he would like to work on the project, he contacted Merchant with his idea.
“When Dwayne sent me the documentary, I didn’t think I’d be interested in a story about wrestling,” said Merchant. “Until I realized this is not really about wrestling at all, it’s about a young woman, her family and their struggles – which are funny, sad, tough, tender and ultimately inspiring. [They also] just happen to involve people in spandex throwing each other about. I love that it’s a true story about a working-class girl who, against the odds, climbed to the very top of her unusual profession. And as with Rocky and boxing, even if you don’t like her sport, you’ll love her journey.”
Paige (Photo Credit: WWE)
Johnson’s production company, Seven Bucks Productions, has since confirmed that shooting is to start next month, having teamed up with Misher Films, WWE Studios, Film4 and, of course, Stephen Merchant to produce the film.
In a press release for the announcement of production (published by pwinsider.com) president of WWE Studios, Michael Luisi said: “What an incredible opportunity for WWE Studios to partner with revered WWE Superstar Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson to bring the compelling, heartwarming and often hilarious family story of WWE Superstar Paige to audiences worldwide. Stephen Merchant has such a keen creative eye and we are thrilled to be able to work with Daniel Battsek and his team at Film4, and Kevin Misher, to bring for the very first time the tale of one of our own to the big screen.”
Film4 Director, Daniel Battsek, added, “Fighting With My Family is a great example of that successful genre of uplifting British films about real people who’ve gone from being unlikely underdogs to triumphing against the odds. We are all excited at the commercial potential of this project and Stephen Merchant has the perfect comic sensibility to make this uniquely British story appeal to audiences worldwide. I am delighted to be collaborating with my old colleague Michael Luisi at WWE, as well as Kevin Misher and of course, Dwayne Johnson.”
Misher Films Producer, Kevin Misher, is quoted as saying, “Only Dwayne Johnson could watch a documentary about this warm, wild and wonderful family of British wrestlers and intuitively understand the bigger international appeal of this story, and only Stephen Merchant could create it. It speaks volumes that Film4 and WWE Studios have come together to tell a story that will have as much appeal to the most ardent WWE fan as it will to someone who wouldn’t know a Suplex from a Sleeper hold.”
It has also been revealed that The Rock will appear in the movie. Paige will be played by Florence Pugh, brother Zak by Jack Lowden, Ricky Knight by Nick Frost (Woop!) and Soraya Bevis by Lena Heady. More details on cast to follow in the coming weeks!
Our next wrestling event with the Knights will take place in March 10th & 11th. Buy tickets and read more hereTags: Britani Knight, British Wrestling, Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, Dwayne Johnson, Film4, Misher Films, Paige, Professional Wrestlers, Ricky Knight, Roy Bevis, Saraya Bevis, Seven Bucks Productions, Soraya Knight, Stephen Merchant, Sweet Soraya, The Rock, US Wrestling, WAW, Wrestling, WWE, WWE Studios, Zak Bevis, Zak Zodiac, Zebra Kid