David Arquette wrestling documentary depicts redemption after WCW flop - Sports Illustrated

New Documentary Traces David Arquette’s Wrestling Redemption Arc

After an infamous run as WCW Champion in 2000, David Arquette set out in 2018 to prove he could be taken seriously as a wrestler.
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The documentary You Cannot Kill David Arquette has nothing to do with immortality and everything to do with redemption.

For 12 days in 2000, David Arquette was WCW Champion. The decision to have Arquette carry the belt—the same one carried by Ric Flair, Sting, Vader, Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage and Ron Simmons—was a disaster. A publicity stunt gone wrong, Arquette’s short run as champ seemingly highlighted every issue with the company, which was out of business less than a year later. Arquette was also out of wrestling, forever associated with the death of WCW.

Life continued, and the well-known actor returned to his craft. But Arquette never accepted his wrestling fate. Determined to rewrite history, he made an appearance on WWE’s Monday Night Raw in 2010, and wrestling still stirred within his soul. He began training with Peter Avalon, who would later be known as AEW’s Librarian, and started taking dates on the independent circuit in 2018. This marked the point where Arquette truly introduced himself to wrestling, revealing two key pieces of his character: a dogged determination and a steadfast refusal to accept anyone else’s expectations but his own.

“Wrestling, it’s been a part of my life that only a few people have understood, but it’s been a constant for me,” said Arquette. “When I got two stents put in my heart, I wasn’t on my deathbed, but it was frightening. Before I was going into surgery, I was thinking about my family, my loved ones, my career, my life and wrestling. So much of my mind was thinking about wrestling. And I had to ask myself, ‘Why are you thinking about wrestling right now?’”

Arquette’s return to wrestling has been eventful. There have been runs throughout independent promotions on both coasts, which included an unforgettable night in 2018 where he wrestled indie stalwart Nick Gage in a death match. It was violent, which is to be expected in a death match, but then took an uncomfortable turn when Arquette was cut in the neck with a piece of broken glass.

“It made for great cinema, and I’m glad it wasn’t any worse,” said Arquette. “Nick is a very good wrestler, a lot better than people credit him for. A lot went wrong there, and it was my fault for pulling his legs there when the light tube hit me in the neck. I don’t have any hard feelings.”

Fortunately, the broken glass did not cut his jugular. Putting all his strength into staying calm and avoiding panic, Arquette quickly sought out a friend—longtime friend Luke Perry, who was involved behind-the-scenes with the documentary. Perry’s son, Jack, wrestled on the same card earlier that show, and he checked to ensure Arquette had not cut a main artery or vein. Somehow, he finished the match, then was rushed off to the hospital by Perry.

“I’m really grateful to wrestling for bringing us back together before we lost him,” said Arquette, who was heartbroken when Perry passed away unexpectedly in 2019. “It was a real shock when he passed. Luke was special. He was never too interested in the fame part of it. He loved his family, and he was a great, great man.”

Arquette, who turns 49 on Sept. 8, successfully fulfilled his dream of changing his reputation in wrestling. The documentary shows that journey, including his willingness to put in the work on the indies.

“I’m absolutely proud of that,” said Arquette. “I got to know the guys and be one of the boys, one of the ones respected in the locker room. I got to know fans from across the indies, and a lot of them came to all the shows. It’s the little moments that stand out for me. I remember Pentagon backstage at a show once bragging about how he was going to have two cigars and two cheeseburgers after a really tough match. I love those moments.”

As for the future, if the phone rings and there is someone on the line from WWE or AEW, Arquette is willing to listen. He had talked himself into the idea of a TNT Championship title match against Cody Rhodes, but that belt is now in the possession of Brodie Lee. A return to the ring is still a possibility, though more realistically would take place as part of a tag team.

“I love tag team wrestling with RJ City, so it’s always possible we do something together again,” said Arquette, who acknowledged that he has proven what he set out to do in wrestling. “The biggest thing for me was believing in myself. I did what I believed in.”

Arquette’s wife, Christina McLarty, worked as one of the producers for the documentary, and their relationship adds another interesting element to the film.

“She was super conflicted about it, especially when Luke texted her that I was seriously injured,” said Arquette. “That was a rough balance. We had to work out a lot of that on camera, which was revealing and, at times, painful, but I’m glad we did it. It’s a great project.”

Arquette is proud to have a more complete scope of his wrestling journey captured on camera, and viewers are likely to walk away with a newfound respect for the Hollywood star turned wrestler.

“This experience went beyond wrestling,” said Arquette. “I’ve always been really hard on myself. I’ve come to the point now where I am happy with who I am. I hope everyone else loves themself, too. You can’t understand your own greatness until you believe it.

“I hope this film inspires people to never give up on a dream or let others define who they are, and I hope they are entertained.”

Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.