David Arquette talks about his role in the wrestling ring
Forget, for a moment, that David Arquette is an actor, with a résumé including “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Eight Legged Freaks,” the entire “Scream” franchise, and dozens more films. Forget that because, on a recent Zoom chat, Arquette was focused on talking about his pro wrestling career and about the new documentary “You Cannot Kill David Arquette.”
He’s been a fan of the sport since he was a kid, he made a controversial name for himself when, as a publicity stunt for a film, he won and briefly held the World Championship Wrestling Heavyweight Belt in 2000, and he made a dream come true almost two decades later when he got in shape, went through some tough training, and started wrestling in various independent circuits. The film traces that journey. The affable Arquette, 48, spoke about it from his home in Los Angeles.
Q: Do you recall when you first started watching wrestling on TV?
A: Yeah, totally. But my problem is that I’m one of the most gullible people in the world. So, I’d be thinking, “Why is that guy so mean?” Then I’d be told that’s the way he’s supposed to be. That he’s the heel. He’s the bad guy. Rowdy Roddy Piper got me so worked up when I was younger, and Bobby “The Brain” Heenan. They were such good heels. I understood what was going on, but I still believed it (laughs).
Q: Your national debut was for World Championship Wrestling in 2000 when you were doing publicity for your film “Ready to Rumble.” How did you train for that appearance?
A: I didn’t have too much training at all. It was like, “Here, read this (script)!” For one thing, I had dyslexia, so it was hard for me to memorize something like that. But they said you don’t have to memorize, you just have to get the gist of it. It was a learning experience. There are all these things you have to learn in the world of wrestling and you can only learn by doing it. Stuff like, “What’s it like to take a piledriver?” And someone would say, “Well, it’s not good.” What that means in wrestling talk is that it hurts, and you probably shouldn’t do it because you’ll be hurting for a week or two ... or more.
Q: You’ve been wrestling for a couple of years now. What sorts of injuries have you suffered?
A: Oh, man, I have what feels like a permanent sort of whiplash. That’s a tough one. I can feel it from my neck to my shoulder. At one point I’ll probably have to have a muscle re-connected. I had a bursa removed from my elbow. I had three fractured ribs. I got stabbed in the neck with a light tube. Then, just things like a dislocated finger.
Q: You brought up the light tube. In the documentary, you’re in a “Death Match” with a fighter named Nick Gage, there was a missed move, you’re stabbed, and you are bleeding profusely from the neck. Why would you do a hardcore “Death Match?”
A: That fight was just by chance. I was doing independent matches. Someone dropped out of that one, and they called me and asked if I wanted to do it. I said yeah, it’s crazy enough that I think it could be good. But that wasn’t even planned for the film. Our cinematographer just happened to be in town. I said I think you should come by and film this. It might be an interesting match to get on camera.
Q: Weren’t you worried about doing it?
A: I was a little worried. I wasn’t too worried. But it was crazy. I knew they were going to have light tubes but I didn’t really know what I was getting into.
Q: Why did you want to do this documentary in the first place?
A: I love wrestling, and I really wanted to train and perform. I knew I had athletic ability; I knew I was tougher than people were making out that I was. And the time was right. I got two stents put in my heart after a bad reaction to a stress test, where I thought I was having a heart attack. When I came out of my stent surgery, I said to my wife, “I was thinking about wrestling.” She thought I was crazy. But I knew I was going to have to lose all this weight. I knew I wanted to train to get back in the ring. I didn’t know where it would lead me. but I thought it would be an interesting story. I went to Brynn Mooser at (the film studio’ XTR) and pitched it to him, and he was the first one to get onboard. Then my wife got onboard as a producer.
Q: You’re still making films, and you’re at an age where you have to be concerned about how long you can keep wrestling. What are your thoughts on that?
A: I do love the wrestling business, and I love the guys and I love the entertainment part of it. I’m not too crazy about individual wrestling, but I enjoy tag team wrestling a lot, so I might tag some more or become a manager.
Q: You’d make a great Jimmy Hart-like manager.
A: I love what Jimmy Hart did. A lot of the time he was kind of a heel manager for a babyface. I would love to play Jimmy Hart in the Hulk Hogan movie.
“You Cannot Kill David Arquette” premieres digitally and On Demand on Aug. 28.
Ed Symkus can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.