If you walk up to any typical wrestling fan and mention the words “David Arquette” you’re sure to receive an eyeroll, a sigh, and the typical response of “worst WCW Champion ever.” Well, let’s start off by debunking this response. Worst WCW Champ ever? Come on bro, that’s Russo. Still, Arquette’s run in the Turner owned company is something that will live in infamy among pro wrestling fans. When he came into the company, mainly to promote the wrestling “classic” Ready to Rumble, it seemed as though he was making a mockery of the sport. His flashy gear and over the top gimmick would fit more in the early 90’s than the “Attitude Era” of the time. And don’t get me started on the whole, “SHAAAAAAAAAAAAD UHHHHHHHHHHHH” promo he cut after his heel turn. However, I feel the belief that fans are mad simply because an actor came in and won the highly coveted belt is a lie. It’s more of how he was booked and acted during this run. A run that Arquette himself believes resulted in a blacklisting from Hollywood and professional wrestling. Now, what if I told you that wasn’t the end of the story? What if there was an entire second half to this story that saw Arquette proving all of his doubters wrong? That’s the story the film “You Cannot Kill David Arquette” is attempting to tell.
In 2018, a year after suffering a heart attack, Arquette announced his return to professional wrestling. Filmmakers David Darg and Price James join David in chronicling this difficult journey. It’s a story of heartbreak, addiction, depression, and overall triumph. Let’s get into, “You Cannot Kill David Arquette”.
The documentary kicks off with the introduction of who David is as a person, his rise to fame, and his eventual debut in World Championship Wrestling. It does a good job establishing his current mindset as he looks back on the accomplishments in his life and where he is today. Arquette’s bouts with alcoholism and depression are no secret and the documentary gets into these issues from the beginning and throughout. Stories told not just from his own perspective but from his family and, ex-wife, Courtney Cox. The documentary pulled no punches when it came to showing us the way David is feeling at that current point. This goes even further as David is booked to appear at a wrestling convention.
Now, I have my own issues with this particular moment, but let me set the scene. Picture a small bingo hall or VFW. There are vendors throughout the room, independent wrestlers signing, etc. Then in a lonely corner we see David Arquette set up. The scene is attempting to establish that among wrestling fans Arquette is viewed as a “disgrace”. This is even said by two of the most obnoxious wrestling fans (perhaps that’s a bit redundant…I can say that, I’m a huge mark) they could find for an interview. Interspersed cuts of David sitting at his table with no line are put in alongside interviews with attendees; an attempt to create sympathy, and it works. However, as someone who volunteers for a horror convention, I find it very hard to believe that David Arquette would have no line at all. For even as terrible as Ready to Rumble is considered, it is still a favorite among wrestling fans. But, I digress, whether the scene is genuine or a “work”, it’s effective. However, this is where my biggest issue with the documentary comes into play. Is it genuine, or is this all just one elaborate promo?
Now, Arquette’s decision to return to the ring had to start somewhere, and it started where most do, in the backyard. We’re grown adults here so allow me to break kayfabe and reveal that wrestling is a work. The outcomes are predetermined, and whether the wrestlers call it in the ring or go over before hand, it’s a show. The purpose is to put on a great show and protect one another. So forgive me when rolling my eyes at the thought of a bunch of overweight backyard workers continuing to say they’re going to beat the hell out of David Arquette for his mark on wrestling. Again, are we going for a our star’s actual triumphant return to health, wellbeing, and something he enjoys doing, or are we going the mockumentary route? Which leads me to my next point: in 2020, do fans truly view Arquette’s title win as the worst thing to happen to wrestling? Honestly, I’d say Vince McMahon makes more of a mockery of the industry every Monday night. Sorry, I’m ranting.
My issues with the documentary start to dissipate as the actor heads down to Mexico. What follows is his foray into Lucha Libre: both in ring and on the street. While the scenes are still played up, this is what we came here for, to see David work hard and succeed in the wrestling world. It is down here where we see Arquette learn probably his go to move throughout the feature, the huracarrana. As modern fans we see this and other “impressive” maneuvers performed almost minute to minute. We’re unimpressed as we watch spot fest after spot fest of workers risking their lives to do the next crazy thing. That being said, 46 (at the time) year old David Arquette learning to do a huracarrana and pulling it off successfully brought a smile to my face.
And that smile rarely left my face throughout the rest of the documentary. From here we build to Arquette’s “first” match back against indie darling, RJ City. Then what follows is basically a montage of the star’s various matches back and the feedback from those matches. The feedback of course varied. The momentum, however, comes to a grinding halt when Arquette accepts a death match with one of the kings of this style, Nick Gage. While death match wrestling is still a work, the violence is real. It was never Gage’s intention to truly injure David, a botched spot led to bad laceration on a neck muscle. This sent Arquette into panic mode…he leaves the ring, turns around, and proceeds to go off the rails. Honestly, good work to Nick Gage for recognizing the situation and putting David down for shoot (real) cover.
David’s taken to the hospital by good friend, fellow actor, and father of AEW star Jungle Boy, Luke Perry (RIP). What follows is Arquette sinking back down into that defeat. Most people, I’m sure, would call it quits after almost bleeding to death in the ring. Not the case here, even though the people around him are speaking against it, David Arquette refuses to fold. He continues his wrestling return and the documentary ends full circle with an amazing moment between himself and wife, Christina McLarty.
If you’re a wrestling fan I would definitely recommend this documentary. If you’re a David Arquette fan I would definitely recommend this documentary. Honestly, it was awesome to see this person who was obviously at one of the lowest points of his life, comeback and do something he wanted to do. Regardless of what happens next, if he never gets into the ring again, David Arquette knew what he wanted to do and proved his detractors wrong. While I wish the documentary would’ve gone a little deeper on some his moments, I would’ve loved a follow up with Gage, I think it was a great overview on Arquette’s return to the ring. Whether some of it was a work or not, it was a great entertaining piece and I can’t wait to see what’s next. Who knows, as an avid AEW fan I would love to see David Arquette show up and take Cody’s TNT title.
‘You Cannot Kill David Arquette’ is now playing in Drive-In Theaters and hits Digital and On Demand August 28th, 2020.
Obsessed with all things horror, video games, comics and vinyl, Dylan has been surrounded by all things geek culture since birth. Along with writing for Icon Versus Icon he’s also the co-host for the year long Christmas podcast, “Christmas 365”.
“No wimps. No False Metal.”