[Tribeca] Bodyslam: Revenge of the Banana! Shows Why Some Wrestling Gimmicks Succeed and Others Fail

Wrestling as a Mix of Real Life and Fiction

“And therefore, since I cannot prove a face / To entertain these fair well-spoken days / I am determined to prove a heel / And crush the pleasures of wrestling cabaret.”

No longer part of SSP, Paul decides to dismantle the family as an act of revenge. He contacts the state athletic commission about SSP, and the second half of the film unfolds from there. This isn’t a case of Paul taking the ball and going home; it’s Paul popping the ball and nuking the playground from orbit.

This swerve in the documentary provides a more complete view of SSP as a band of merry pranksters, and it makes sense why there’d be so much vitriol and bad feelings about Paul. Seeing what SSP means to these men and women and why it matters as a community, it no longer matters whether I’d go to an SSP show; again, it’s family, and for its members, that kinship is crucial. There’s also a deeper level to Paul, whose own lack of a family and support group seems to drive his revenge—he wants others to experience his isolation.

Many of the great villains in literature and film (and pro-wrestling) are often mirror images of the heroes. It’s diametrically opposed forces in opposition. Here in Bodyslam: Revenge of the Banana, it’s the SSP posse who form a surrogate family against Paul, a man without a family. They’re outcasts in their own ways, they know each other, but they also hate each others’ guts.

I began to realize around the midway point of the documentary why the banana costume was so silly and never got over. As a babyface and as a heel, the gimmick that works best for Paul is simply being Paul.

Hubert Vigilla

Hubert Vigilla is a writer living in Brooklyn, which makes him completely indistinguishable from four-fifths of people living in Brooklyn.

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