Wrestling Queen

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“Great for wrestling fans, non-marks may be less impressed.”

Despite the title, and the fact that Vivian Vachon is the most featured wrestler, the portion of this film which has much to do with women’s wrestling is actually rather small. It’s more a general overview of wrestling and it’s fans, during a strangely innocent era (the early 1970’s), before Vince McMahon dominated, when it still worked to give the illusion of a genuine sport.

Vivian Vachon was one of thirteen children, and with two brothers already involved in pro wrestling, it was no surprise she followed them in. This film follows her on a tour of the States, but it also diverts into her family history, and has interviews with her relatives, fans, other wrestlers, promoters and, it seems, anyone else who happened to come within range of the cameras. There’s also a fair amount of wrestling action, but this is probably the weakest point of the film; it’s edited, removing any flow, but they also only have a single camera at ringside, often making it hard to see what’s going on.

The interviews, on the other hand, are fab, though I speak as an pro-wrestling enthusiast, and action femme enthusiasts will likely be less impressed. But I find characters like her brother Maurice ‘Mad Dog’ Vachon, endlessly interesting anyway; with a voice like Bluto, he made the leap from Olympic wrestling to the pro ring 40 years before Kurt Angle. Some of the fan insights are also priceless, not least the footage of them getting seriously carried away. As a documentary on wrestling, it’s thus a hit – as a feature on women’s wrestling, it’s less relevant, but anyone who has ever been embarrassed by what all too often passes for women’s wrestling in the WWF, will undoubtedly feel a sense of nostalgia for an era when it was every bit as legitimate as the male version.

Dir: Don Chaffey
Star: Vivan Vachon, Maurice “Mad Dog” Vachon, Andre the Giant

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