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RUSSELLMADNESS (The truest film about Wrestling ever made) *SPOILERS*


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The Ferraro family have to move to an arena which their family run as a wrestling venue years earlier and have to live there for one year and turn a profit then they can flip it.


An evil promoter called Vic from the WUF bought up all the other promotions in the 80s according to the plot. The good promoter wouldn't sell as he wanted to keep it a family business (Gagne? Crockett?) so Vic employed all his wrestlers and he had to close. Ace! This film is amazing already 10 minutes in. And the dog (currently in petshop) keeps pissing on people. Awesome.

In the pet shop Russell is no longer a puppy and so he's being sent to the pound. A friendly worker adopts him, but he unknowingly decides to escape and does this by dropkicking an evil Pet Shop worker.


Ten minutes in. Best Film Ever.


Back at the arena the Ferraros are trying to hire wrestlers, but the wrestlers won't come work for them in case they are BLACKBALLED! The Ferraro's are running an Outlaw! Amazing! Eventually they find local indy wrestlers on CRAIG'S LIST.


Oh yeah. There's a monkey in it too.


Russell finds his way to the arena's backlot where he wishes on a star to find a family before laying to sleep in a cardboard box. He finds a steak where a British Bulldog (Not Billington) tries to bully him to give the steak but he's saved by the Monkey.


And to the matches. Attendance is low but on commentary is JR (FRED FUCKING WILLARD) and the wrestler has the awesome name of Vick Vice. Vice takes on surfing babyface Ray Malibu. Malibu HOLDS UP THE PROMOTER ON THE WAY TO THE RING FOR MORE MONEY! Is this THE GREATEST WRESTLING FILM EVER? Malibu runs away following a TKO, Head Vice and holding up the promoter. Fred Willard banters with his co-commentator and must have been allowed to ad-lib as he's great as ever. The promoter (the young father of the Ferraro family) realises he's going to have to wrestle himself to put on a match and I realise the co-commenator is the evil company owner who gets Will to deliver a bribe in The Fresh Prince. The team are having a piss funny chat about chimney sweeping.



Commentator who was in Fresh Prince: And of course, you've got your boreing tool.

Audience Member: YOU'RE A BORING TOOL!


Fucking brilliant!


In the backlot someone's given Russell a sausage. The Bulldog returns clad in a union jack and asks Russell who's going to save him this time? Russell somersaults over him, runs into the arena and enters the ring. Vick picks up Russell and Russell PISSES IN HIS FACE before putting him in a rear naked choke. Vice's arm drops three times, and Russell wins in his debut! Then Russell faints.


He wakes up backstage and the Ferraro family see he's malnourished and dehydrated. They decide he can stay.


The media get in touch to let them know that the dog is a youtube sensation and trending on twitter. Probably in Connecticut an old man's bollocking Johnny Ace for hiring the wrong dog. 


The monkey congratulates Russell on is first match, and Russell asks the monkey "What is wrestling?" and he has to explain it to him and this film is so close to the bonio it beggars belief. The monkey offers to be Russell's trainer. Russell agrees.


A bit of background on the Monkey now. It was in an experiment where it learned how to speak. It could speak so it was imprisoned, then it escaped, in a BALL AND CHAIN, then got into the wrestling business.


The Monkey (who's called Hunk) also agrees to train the son (Greg Gagne, or the 10 year old Ferraro) to the title song of "RUSSELL MAAAAAANNIIIIAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!" which definitely wasn't the original title of the film that they definitely didn't have to change for legal reasons. MONTAGE! Mainly drinking eggs and running, and gets points for Russell's fetching track suit. We also get a CHANGING ROOM SEQUENCE where the dog comes out of the fitting room in several costumes causing me to "aww" and feel all warm. It ends with a Rocky up the stairs run, and them decided the dog's called RUSSELL MANIA!


To the matches, and we join in progress a battle royal for the right to take on Russell in the main event. A mummy throws out a pirate to win and it's just like watching Titanes En El Ring.







Mummy offers a handshake and Russell naively accepts and is swung around the ring by the paws and the Mummy poses. The monkey shouts for Russell to channel his chi, and Russell gets up, gets a bit of bandage in his mouth and runs around the ring unravelling the mummy exposing a bald bloke. He's knocked out and his arm drops 3 times.


WINNER: RUSSELL MANIA (0:30) ****1/2



OMG! VIC THE EVIL NOT VINCE MCMAHON PROMOTER WHO KILLED THE SMALL TERRITORIES (Cliff off Cheers) HAS INTRODUCED HIMSELF TO THE FAMILY BACKSTAGE! He's got the same hair and everything. He actually says "In your grandfather's day it was about wrestling, now it's about entertainment! I run the biggest live event company on the West Coast. We've got pay per view, we've got merchandising, we've got the youtube on the interweb...". Vic wants Russell, Ferraro says no, and Vic says "Don't burn the house down". WHAT A FILM. 


The next day and the promoter realises they have finally broke even, and after the next show will be in profit. However, a building inspector comes to Ferraro arena and it fails the inspection. It'll cost $64,000 to get up to code. 


Hence, the father of the Ferraro's who's name I still don't think I know sets up a meeting with Vic the evil promoter at the WUF building. Vic is there with his attorney Jerry McDevitt, sorry, Milo. Vic wants to put Russell on action figures and lunch boxes. Vic in exchange wants 51% of the Ferraro office and offers talent exchanges and allowing the use of the WUF brand for shows. NATE! (THAT'S HIS NAME! NATE!) agrees as long as events in his home city of Portland are held in the Ferraro arena, and Vic offers up the money to this end. The repaired building passes inspection and the matches can go ahead.





What is wrestling without a Mongolian? Even Nikolai Volkoff did it! Russell runs the rops and flies off with a massive dropkick to the Oriental star and covers for 3.





The friendly pet shop worker who tried to adopt Russell watches on the WUF NETWORK (Too brilliant) and looks shocked. 


Russell and Nate are leaving the arena and are about to hit the road with the WUF. He's missing his wedding anniversary, his son's birthday and helping his daughter find easter eggs, but they group hug and they're off on the circuit and enter Vic's limo in which he's shouting to hurry up as fame and fortune wait's for no-one.



Russell appears on the Tonight Show,

The family at home in Portland on an easter egg hunt facetime Nate and Russell,

Cardboard cutouts of Hunk, Russell and Nate attend the son's birthday party,

The son masters the dropkick,

Nate, Hunk and Russell arrive at Portland airport from the loop to many wellwishers and fans.


But the three can't stay, as Vic's there, he's got the car ready and they're staying out on the road obviously doing an expansion era schedule. His kids and wife give Nate shit about going back on the road straight away as he's missed loads of their stuff. WELL THAT'S THE BUSINESS, FUCKERS. His wife cries at him about hardly seeing him and it looks like it's going the way of the 1985 Titan marriage. Vic also tells them to leave Hunk the Monkey.


Vic informs Nate that Russell's titleshot will take place at the WUF arena instead of the Ferraro's but Nate doesn't care and goes back to his arena to have an anniversary dinner in the ring with his wife. He gives her a sewing machine as a present and she doesn't kick off.


To the weigh-ins for Russell's title shot and he weighs 25.5lbs, his opponent is The Hammer (John Morrison) who weighs 255lbs. He does his pose and Vic mimics him behind him, almost in state of orgasm like when a certain play by play man would interview Tony Atlas at tapings in Hamburg, PA. Hammer shows all the promo greatness. "Tonight I'm going to crush this little fleabag, like a little bag of fleas that I'll crush".


Backstage Russell prepares for the match when Vic approaches with bad news. The sponsors (Mattel?) have decreed that the monkey can't accompany Russell to ring side. The Monkey later spies Vic telling Hammer that Russell's going to take the title, he's asking Hammer to TAKE A DIVE. Hammer refuses until Vic offers him a large amount to do the J O B on the P P V, and Hammer happily agrees.


Russell enters the ring in the glitzy WUF arena to a rap track and massive pop. The Hammer enters to an awesome theme going "HAMMER DOWN! HAMMER NOW!"






Hammer offers a handshake then does the Ric Flair hand through the hair. Russell ties the laces from Hammer's boots around his ankles and Hammer falls to the ground. Russell goes to the top rope to pose to the crowd and Hammer charging into the corner but Russell moonsaults over him and hits his massive dropkick. Russell however has gotten cocky and isn't making the cover, instead jumping around the ring and playing to the crowd. The Hammer takes out a DOG WHISTLE and blows it, causing great pain to Russell. Russell collapses and Hammer pins for the 3. MOTYC, fantastic and creative booking.


WINNER: THE HAMMER (1:30) ****3/4



The finish draws BUKU HEAT from the crowd, boos everywhere, and Russell runs out of the ring and to the back. In the back he's consoled by the Ferraros and Hunk. Hammer comes back and HE'S IN SHIT WITH VIC FOR NOT DOING THE JOB. Hammer explains that he doesn't want to be like the rest of "The Boys" who stared at the lights for Russell due to a payoff, and wants to create interest for a rematch. The Hammer is business, baby. Vic is in perfect agreement with this. Russell is gutted to find out it was fake, and Nate tells Vic that they quit the WUF. Nate lets him know his dog isn't going to wrestle cheats. Until Vic let's Nate know that Russell ISN'T HIS DOG! The contract Nate singed to get the $64,000 dollars to fix the arena SIGNS RUSSELL (and the arena) OVER TO THE WUF AND VIC. Milo McDevitt is there to clarify. Vic takes the dog, tells the Ferraro that Russell's in the big leagues now, and fucks off.


Vic puts Russell in a cage and tells him "YOU'RE NOT PART OF NO FAMILY ANYMORE! YOU'RE A WUF SUPERSTAR SO JUST GET USED TO IT!" This is just too, too good.


Back at Ferraro arena they are crying, and want Russell back as he's part of their family, and over at the pet shop the pleasant pet shop employee sees the news that Russell is the sole property of the WUF on his laptop as he watches the WUF Network and, again, looks shocked and looks at  a piece of paper. He goes to Ferraro arena and introduces himself to Nate carrying the piece of paper.


Hunk and the Ferraro son however have gone on a runner to the WUF arena to try and liberate Russell. They sneak past security and find the despondent caged Russell. Russell is devastated that he let everyone down and feels like a fake, but Hunk and Ferraro Son make it clear it doesn't matter to them. Russell is family and they'll love him always. Security catches them, but Hunk the Monkey holds a banana in silhouette TO LOOK LIKE A GUN, they cuff the guard,  and the three of them make it to the arena parking lot where they are discovered by Vic and his lawyer. Nate drives up at the same time with the nice pet shop worker and Vic threatens to press charges as Russell is his property. Derek (workers name) lets Vic know that Russell isn't the WUF's property as he adopted him and he wasn't Ferraro's to give away. However, Derek decrees Russell needs a family and so gives the rights to Russell to the Ferraro's. Milo McDevitt confirms WUF's contract is null and void. So Vic goes "FUCK YOU, I'LL JUST EVICT YOU AND YOUR FAMILY THEN!". Then, as Vic's business, he comes up with a better idea. He'll sign the arena back over to them, for the rights to Russell. The Ferraro family say NO DEAL. Russell feels that eh can't let his family go homeless, so  Hunk challenges Hammer to a WINNER TAKES ALL rematch with Russell in a 100% SHOOT. Ferraro insists it happens in their arena, so Vic throws in a stipulation of his own. He channels Peanut Head Long and makes it a TAG TEAM MATCH, so Russell better find a partner. The Ferraro's agree and I'm actually more arsed about this than Wrestlemania this year.


To the arena, and Nate decides he'll be the partner.


First down the aisle is DIETER DAS MOUNTAIN (who if I remember correctly was the one worried about being blackballed earlier), he's a German. "HAMMER NOW! HAMMER DOWN!" Here comes the HAMMER! And now here comes RUSSELL to a herculean pop! WHAT THE FUCK? THE SON'S COME DOWN AS THE PARTNER! NOT NATE! THIS IS A SWERVE! A GOOD ONE! (And I finally realised the son's name is Max.)





Max slides through the legs and catches DDM with an eyepoke, utilising his compact frame and speed. Nate and his Wife come down the aisle, Nate expecting to wrestle, the wife sees Max wrestling in the ring and gives DDM a beating with her handbag. The referee letting it go a bit as the stakes are so high, good officiating. Ferraro goes up top and hits a Daniel Bryan style missile dropkick from the top rope and I hope he cuts that move out of his arsenal before he fucks his neck. DDM hits a BRAINBUSTER! Gets 2. Kick to the pills by Max and an atomic wedgie, and it's all going Team Russellmania. Unsighted by his pants, DDM grabs the ref and rips his pants off him with a wedgie of his own. Both tag their partners and it's the awaited second meeting of Russell and The Hammer. Stepover, and leapfrog and Russell comes off and HITS HIS DROPKICK! Hammer breaks his dog whistle back out though, and Russell's in the shit now. The pain causes him to lie down. Hammer goes up top, flies off with Starship Pain, but RUSSELL MOVES! RUSSELL MOVES! RUSSELL MAKES THE COVER! 1... 2.... 3!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  RUSSELL AND FERRARO WIN! MATCH OF THE YEAR! THE CROWD GO APESHIT


Winners: Russell Maniac and Max Ferraro (4:00) *****


Vic enters the ring as Russell and the Ferraro family celebrate and gives The Hammer shit for losing to a very very small dog. Whereupon THE HAMMER TURNS FACE AND THROWS VIC OUT OF THE RING AS THE CROWD THROW SHIT AT VIC LIKE A '97 NITRO! Nate tells his family that he's proud of them, but Hulk says Russell can't hear them... HE HAD EARPLUGS IN ALL ALONG! 


So we throw it to the future, where Russell and Max became the most famous tag team in wrestling history, competing in a THRIVING Ferraro office. Fade to credits






VERDICT: The sheer amount of little truthisms about wrestling, especially how things went down during the Expansion era, make this a surprise little gem. Yeah it's a kids film, but there's a lot for adults who know a bit about wrestling history to chuckle about to themselves. Also, it had a surprisingly good cast for such a low budget feature. John Ratzenberger, Will Sasso, and FRED FUCKING WILLARD are pretty quality comedy actors. Also it stars a Jack Russell and they are the best dogs in the world. Marks out of 10? I'll give it 12. 


Now, lets hear your thoughts?

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I just watched the film off the back of Butch's review, it was a genuinely fun 90minutes.

A super easy watch where you can just have it on in the background. A Saturday afternoon film with, like he said, has a lot of actual wrestling stuff in it.


What with Butch starting a podcast soon, I sure hope he does a DVD commentary of this film with a wrestler to talk through everything. Now that would be a fun way to watch the film!

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Just watched the movie. Here is the review I posted on Letterboxd.


Holy shit a moly! I think I may have just seen the best dog movie since See Spot Run!


Russell is a puppy that is a massive urophile. That made humans not want the cute little dog. Two years later, he is about to be put in the pound! Cacking himself, he decides to run away.


He stumbles outside Ferraro Wrestling, a struggling wrestling promotion that can't draw for shit because they didn't book The Rock N Roll Express. The promotion is run by the Ferraro family, who have no idea how to book a good indie show. The Dad should have got such indie talents such as Chuck Taylor, Richochet and The Young Bucks!


So Russell is all homeless, and is about to get the fuck beaten out of him by a bulldog. Thankfully, a talking monkey scares him off.


Somehow, he stumbles into the Ferraro Wrestling arena, and defeats their top heel! "For fuck sake! I can't believe a dog won a match! My promotion is a joke" the Dad thought.


But he thought wrong, because Russell becomes a big YouTube sensation! After winning a few matches to make him look strong, he catches the attention of Mick Vonn, who is not based on Vince McMahon in any way. Vonn owns the WUF, the Wrestlers United Federation.


After signing a contract to appear on the big shows, Russell becomes a bigger star than ever! Sadly, the WUF is a pre-determined sports entertainmemt company, and it is decided that Vonn wants Russell to win the World title!


The monkey overhears this and is disgusted that wrestling is staged, and tries to warn generic American Dad, but he doesn't want to hear it.


Russell faces John Morrison for the belt, where it's decided Russ is going over. Morrison doesn't want to job to a canine, so he has other ideas.


He blows a golf whistle, which hurts a little boy's ears! Morrison pins him to retain. Backstage, Vonn is all "What the fuck are you doing?", but Morrison was smart. He said that people and advertisers would pay more to see the rematch, which is great booking. Vonn agrees.


Upon hearing that pro wrestling is a work, the Ferraros are gutted and want to quit the WUF, because they like their pro wrestling to be real.


But sadly, the idiots signed a contract, and Russell is now WUF property. They take Russ away from the distraught family.


The monkey comes up with a plan to break Russell out. They are successful, but are met by Vonn outside. They book a high stakes match where if Russell and his tag team partner win, the Ferraro Wrestling promotion continues, and Russell stays with them. If they lose, Ferraro Wrestling is closed and Russell is property of WUF.


They have the match between the son and Russell against John Morrison and a man dressed like its Oktoberfest. Some really cool spots from Russell and Morrison.


Morrison blows the golf whistle, which floors the puppy. But it's all a rouse, and Russell was playing possum like a Canine Bret Hart. Morrison misses Starship Pain, and Russell pins him for the happy ending.


Afterwards, Morrison and German throw Vonn out the win, and as the Russell voice over says "I remained with the Ferraros forever!!". Well, if 13 years counts as forever.


This film fucking ruled! There are some real "awww I want to hug that dog" moments. It made me want to go downstairs and hug my dog.


Without doubt, the greatest dog movie since See Spot Run. Go and watch this now. I don't care how old you are. If you don't even go "awww", you're a fucking reptilian.


I rated this five stars, by the way. Better than Titanic.

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