Wrestling since she was young, Paige – real name Saraya-Jade Bevis – was always destined to step in the ring.
The star came from a wrestling family, including her mother, father, and both her brothers.
“The first initial time I watched it I couldn’t (see it), because I was crying so much,” she told app.
The uplifting comedy, inspired by Paige’s life, opens in cinemas on February 14, then wider release on Friday, February 22.
According to Paige “like, 95 percent of the story was very accurate,” though she adds: “Obviously, there were little twists for Hollywood, but it’s very true.”
The film was produced by former wrestler and now actor The Rock, who stars as himself in the film, which was also co-produced by WWE studios.
The Rock has spoken about how he was turned away when he first pitched the idea after seeing the Channel 4 documentary on Paige, and ended up going the Indie route.
But the movie isn’t just for wrestling fans, Paige’s story is about following your dreams and battling against the odds – think Rocky.
So how accurate is Fighting With My Family?
Paige, who is played by Florence Pugh in the film, signed on to train with WWE at the age of 18. Three years in the developmental league saw her become the youngest wrestler to win a Divas Championship aged 21. Add to that it was her debut with the main wrestlers NBD.
Paige was born in Norwich, Norfolk, to two wrestlers, Patrick Bevis (Rowdy Ricky Knight) and Julia Hamer-Bevis (Sweet Saraya).
In the Channel 4 documentary the family is described as “the biggest names in modern British wrestling.”
Sweet Saraya wrestled when she wasn’t “stitching them up or washing their leotards”. She also once unknowingly wrestled while seven months pregnant with Paige.
While all of the family wrestled, it was Paige who attracted the big crowds, wrestling under the name Britani Knight.
“She’s eye candy on posters, money on merchandise. Just having her face on my stuff, I can guarantee selling it,” she said in the doc,” said her mum.
“She’s got the grace, the poise—she’s the star. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing to have something, a product like this. Forget that she’s my daughter, she’s a product.”
Did the family groom them to step into wrestling?
The family’s only source of income was wrestling, though it was their passion. In fact, the family were groomed to step into the ring.
“I’d like my kids to go to the very top,” Ricky told Channel 4. “That’s what I started the wrestling dynasty for. … Makin’ it big is in America at the moment. That’s where the money is. That’s where the stardom is. That’s where they get to be known. Best case is they actually both get there and be big stars.”
Was Ricky involved in gangs?
But wrestling wasn’t the only thing Ricky had been involved in. Paige’s father was involved in gangs and had served time when he was younger.
“I’d done eight years in prison before I was 25,” said Ricky. “Mainly [for] violence.”
He said it came at a crossroads in his life. Ricky could have gone down for longer, and carried on that path, but he credits meeting his wife and wrestling as turning his life around.
Zak and how he didn’t make it
But both Paige and Zak aka Zebra Kid wanted to make it. The film shows how one would go on to fulfill their dreams, while the other one was left behind.
Both were invited by a WWE talent scout to attend trials in the UK. In April 2011, they tried out before SmackDown, which was taping at The O2 in London.
Paige made the cut, but Zak didn’t.
The phone call Zak received telling him it was a no was shown in the Channel 4 documentary.
“This business is all about the body,” Zak said. “Because I didn’t have abs, my shoulders weren’t touching my ears, they said no this time. It just falls down to the young.”
Zak still competes, now under the name Zak Zodiac, and works with his family’s wrestling business.
Paige was sent to the WWE’s then-farm system, Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW), which was re-branded the year after as NXT.
She wrestled under the name Saraya, but changed her title to Paige before she debuted in February 2012.
Is Vince Vaughn’s character Hutch Morgan real?
While Paige was training with NXT, Vince Vaughn’s character Hutch Morgan wasn’t there – he’s fictional.
Director Stephen Merchant said that the character is a combination of the four or five different WWE trainers that Paige had.
In the film, Hutch is the head coach and trainer of the next WWE stars.
In real life, NXT was created in 2010 to create the new stars for its main brands, like Raw and SmackDown, though it went on to become it’s own brand.
Did Zak try a second time?
While Zak was knocked back, he did try again. It’d been his dream since he was six-years-old. His first try out ended with him being advised to put on more muscle.
Just as we see in the movie, where Jack Lowden plays Zak, the young man took it really hard.
He was jealous of his sister who was picked up, but tried his best to keep his feelings to himself.
What made it worse was Paige hadn’t initially wanted to get into wrestling – she only really began aged 13 compared to Zak at six. Paige had actually wanted to be a zoologist and was a little scared of wrestling after seeing her parents injuries.
In real life Zak tried to follow the WWE scout’s advice, but his efforts ended in a knee injury which delayed him trying out for yet another year.
At the second try out, he was given the chance to wrestle on WWE SmackDown, which was televised. He was beaten by Big Show, but he was undeterred. Zak felt it went well, but again he was told he needed more muscle.
How did Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson learn about Paige?
In real life The Rock became aware of Paige in 2012. Now an actor, he was shooting Fast & Furious 6 in London.
“I was up at 3am (too much caffeine) and stumbled upon a documentary on a UK station about a local wrestling family and their daughter’s unlikely journey into the global spotlight,” he shared on Twitter back in 2017.
“That daughter, is current WWE Women’s Superstar, Paige. The family element I saw in the doc is what grabbed my attention. That no matter how crazy life gets, no matter how dysfunctional our families can sometimes be and especially regardless of how much we fight – we’re always there for each other when it counts. That’s what families do.”
The documentary was the 2012 Channel 4 The Wrestlers: Fighting With My Family.
They actually also met in real life. At Wrestlemania in 2014, The Rock told her she would be debuting on the main roster the next day and she was going to be the Divas Champion.
She burst into tears. Then he told her he was also going to make a movie about her family. At that point she had only wrestled in the developmental programme.
One of the moments in the movie that is actually inaccurate is a scene between The Rock and Paige. We see the Rock screaming at her.
“The only thing that was a little bit inaccurate is when The Rock was screaming at me backstage. The rest of it is completely accurate,” Paige said at the Sundance Film Festival.
How accurate is Fighting With My Family?
“They nailed it. They really truly nailed it,” Paige told IMDb. “And that’s not just being biased. They did amazing, every single one of them. Even my dad was super happy.”
Does Paige cameo in Fighting With My Family?
She doesn’t, but members of her family do act as extras. “[The filmmakers] all started coming over to England to film and [my family members] all have extra parts in it,” she told Lilian Garcia on her podcats. Zak also appears as a drug dealer.
Did Florence Pugh use a stunt double?
She was encouraged to perform as much as she could. Florence Pugh was coached by The Rock and a few other wrestlers. But the more dangerous moves were carried out by professional wrestler Tessa Blanchard.
Why did Paige quit WWE?
Paige was a successful wrestler, she was given a big storyline and mad it on to the main roster in 2014. She won the Divas Championship twice, but she was injured in 2018.
Her neck injuries forced her into retirement. She became general manager of the SmackDown brand, a position that was removed in December. Vince McMahon confirmed Paige still has a role on the show but not in the same position.