WRESTLING WITH SATAN (DVD)

Can a Christian find salvation with the help of XL-sized men in tights that pummel each other with folding chairs? That is the premise of the Christian Wrestling Federation, a Texas-based ministry/sports entertainment operation that offers independent professional wrestling bouts punctuated with evangelical Christian sermons by the grapplers in the ring.

This fascinating documentary by Paul Aldridge and Tom Borden follows the federation from 2000 through 2006, detailing a wealth of serene high points (most notably the gathering of the exuberant line-up of wrestlers) and some harrowing low points (including the repeated problems in financing this endeavor and the personality conflicts that split federation founder Rob Vaughn from several of his most popular athletes).

While Vaughn and his team are on somewhat shaky ground when they repeatedly use Biblical passages to forge a connection between spiritual wrestling and professional wrestling, it is difficult not to be impressed with the distinctive character and the unmistakable sincerity of their proselytizing efforts. And to its credit, this wrestling league has none of the vulgarity that has marred Vince McMahon’s WWE extravaganzas for too many years.

The real power and glory here belongs to the wrestlers, who are some of the most charismatic and talented athletes in the under-the-radar world of independent wrestling. Watching them at work in the ring will bring pleasure to those who have grown tired of the WWE and are in search of fun, old-school wrestling mayhem. This DVD includes seven entertaining bonus matches from the tours featured in the film – and these bonus clips are pure wrestling without any extra sermonizing.

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