David Arquette chats with Daily DDT about his all-new documentary, paying his wrestling dues, shedding the stigma of his WCW world title win, and more.
It was 20 years ago this past April that esteemed actor David Arquette captured the WCW World Heavyweight Championship in a moment most fans consider to be one of the worst ever in the history of pro wrestling.
Since then, Arquette has had his name dragged through the mud by fans for a booking decision he had no control over.
In fact, it’s been well-documented the Scream star was vehemently against winning the title, for he is a longtime fan himself and didn’t want to disgrace it by holding it for no reason.
He’s had to live with that burden courtesy of WCW for two decades, but in his new documentary You Cannot Kill David Arquette, he rights that wrong by returning to wrestling and proving himself all over again, this time from the ground up.
You Cannot Kill David Arquette, available on VOD on Aug. 28, details Arquette’s return to wrestling and his desire to live out a dream. That dream turned into a nightmare when WCW decided to rush his rise to the top in 2000, but he’s determined to show the masses that he’s serious about honing his craft in addition to spotlighting the young up-and-comers of the independent scene.
“Part of the reason of doing this documentary was to spotlight guys like King Brian [Anthony] and Jack Perry and “Bulletproof” Brian Pillman and RJ City,” Arquette told Daily DDT in an exclusive interview.
This eye-opening doc also shows people outside of wrestling just how physically grueling (as well as emotionally rewarding) the business can be. Although Arquette understood from the start what he had to put his body through while working his way back up the wrestling ladder, it hasn’t made his journey any less agonizing.
Thankfully he’s had a strong support system in his friends and family, which includes his wife Christina and three children. His passion and drive to be the best he can possibly be are also motivating factors for him.
Still, when the day was done and his body was bruised from enduring punishment and powerslams, Arquette considered quitting. He constantly contemplated whether it was worth it, but his will to wrestle and persevere through the pain kept him going.
“Every step of the way I was thinking, ‘Oh, I can’t do this. It’s so painful. How can you go on?’ It’s so painful, people have no idea,” he said. “First, when you’re training at the beginning and your body’s not used to it, it’s like being hit by a car. It’s like slamming yourself down over and over again for hours on end and you’re throwing up because it’s so intense.
“First time I trained with Peter Avalon I threw up. It’s just so super painful,” he continued. “Getting past that was really hard and then taking bumps with fractured ribs is really hard. All along the way, even when you’re training or you’re lifting or working out or whatever, it’s just like, ‘All right, that’s enough.’ But you have to say, ‘No, get back in there.’ You have to keep pushing yourself and driving yourself to complete it.”
Wrestling fans are well aware that it’s a totally different business than it was when Arquette was originally involved 20 years ago. No longer is it the land of the giants so much as it is a place for athletes of all sizes and skill-sets to thrive, including Arquette.
While he realizes he isn’t as athletically gifted as other wrestlers, he more than makes up for his shorter stature with his colorful personality and ability to talk a crowd into a building. That’s isn’t just because of his star power in Hollywood, either; he’s emerged as quite the character on his wrestling road to redemption and has proven he can hang with the best of them.
“A lot’s happened since ,” Arquette said. “Backyard wrestling was big and that was starting right back then. Now a lot of the wrestlers who have come up in the business came up doing that in their own way before they started properly training and everything. The internet was also a huge thing, so that changed the whole dynamic of how people communicate about wrestling.
“I think smaller guys have also been involved,” he said. “A guy like Daniel Bryan or Seth Rollins can be champion and I’m as tall as them, so that also changed my idea of, ‘Well, I can go back and give this a shot, it wouldn’t be so outlandish.’ Ultimately, I think the perception is that hopefully after this film that people understand I love wrestling and you shouldn’t bully people or push them around or you might be standing across the ring from them sometime.”
The infamous moment of him pinning Eric Bischoff on WCW Thunder to become WCW champion created a certain perception among fans that he “ruined” wrestling. Of course, that couldn’t have been any farther from the truth, especially considering that WCW was already well on its way to going out of business by the time that happened.
A celebrity the caliber of Arquette winning the once-prestigious title was the final nail in the coffin of the company, but that decision was out of Arquette’s hands. He’s past the point of letting people’s opinions of him bother him and hopes this documentary will convince his detractors to think twice about him going forward.
“I’ve gotten it so much that to not get it would be a surprise,” he said. “I’d go to the house shows of WWE or whatever and once in a while someone would say, ‘Hey, champ,’ or something not derogatory and I’d be like, ‘Oh, that’s nice.’ It’s good to stand up for yourself, it’s good to prove yourself, it’s good to believe in yourself. Hopefully what happened in this documentary will give people a better idea of what happened then and make up for some of the anger that had people toward me.”
One thing some fans may not know about Arquette is that he actually donated the money he earned from his WCW title victory to The Owen Hart Foundation, Brian Pillman’s family following The Loose Cannon’s abrupt passing, and other charities. Brian Pillman Jr. said as much during the documentary’s credits, which Arquette admits was never planned.
“To be honest, the main reason why I asked for that to be put in was because it had become public,” Arquette said. “It wasn’t ever supposed to be public. But that was the only footage we had of Brian Pillman and I wanted him in the film, so I said, ‘Make sure to put him in.’ I was hoping he’d be like, ‘I love you, David. We’re family.’ Or whatever. But they included the whole part of that which I don’t mind anymore because people know. He’s such a talented wrestler and I really wanted him to be a part of the movie so he could sign copies or something like that.”
You Cannot Kill Arquette shows the actor-turned-wrestler learning the ropes from AEW’s Peter Avalon, seeking advice from WWE Hall of Famer Diamond Dallas Page, and training down in Mexico. Part of the process includes him wrestling in the literal streets of Mexico and taking bumps on the concrete in hopes of earning a few coins from drivers sitting in traffic.
It was his goal from the get-go to document his climb through the wrestling ranks beginning at the very bottom, as not even an elite actor such as himself is above taking a beating and paying his dues.
“The directors, David Darg and Price James, did an incredible job and my wife Christina who produced the film had a lot to do with all the scheduling of it,” Arquette said. “They pretty much set up the whole experience I went on. I didn’t want to know anything or do anything, so I did my part about training and booking all the matches. I was the one who wanted to do the whole independent circuit and tag-team with RJ City and really do all that. I wanted to train with luchas, but they had set all that stuff up.”
Lacing up the boots again and stepping back inside the squared circle has been on Arquette’s mind since his short-lived WCW tenure, and the timing couldn’t have been better for it to happen. The documentary features footage of him working matches with RJ City on the west coast independent scene as well as in Northeast Wrestling against Jerry “The King” Lawler.
Whether he’ll eventually be afforded another opportunity at the big time at age 48 remains to be seen, but with the work he’s put into making his dream a reality, there’s no counting Arquette out.
“I really just did it to prove to myself, believe in myself and find a love inside for myself,” he said. “That’s what I ultimately learned from it. I really wanted to make something that would entertain people and that they would enjoy with this movie. I love Dark Side of the Ring as a show and I love Beyond the Mat as a wrestling documentary. That stuck with me and had a real impression on me way back. I just wanted to make something to entertain people during this time especially.”
AEW star MJF makes a quick cameo during the doc’s credits with Arquette interrupting a promo of his at an independent wrestling event. It’s worth noting that Arquette recently signed a petition started by MJF for Jon Moxley’s Paradigm Shift finisher to be banned, leading fans to speculate whether the acclaimed actor could be AEW bound.
Arquette offered plenty of praise to the number one contender to the AEW World Championship, saying: “I’m a huge fan of MJF. As far as heels go in the wrestling business, he’s top-notch. He’s so full of himself and he really gets me riled up. I actually sent him a gift before All In because I was such a fan of his and I had just seen him at this match and he had this scraggly old scarf and I was like, ‘You can’t roll like that. If you’re going to be this guy, you have to do it right.’ I also wanted a little piece of me at the All In thing. I think he’s great.”
As far as future opponents are concerned, Arquette has acknowledged Cody Rhodes’ name in the past as someone he’d love to go up against. Arguably, the AEW TNT Championship open challenge would have been the perfect place for that to happen, but even though that gimmick has since run its course, nothing is stopping him from confronting Cody one of these days on Dynamite and making that match happen.
“I’d really want to fight Cody Rhodes because he’s someone I’ve wanted to fight for a long time,” Arquette said. “I’ve put it out there. The biggest companies still have a reservation about me and my history, so hopefully this documentary will change their mind. Honestly, it kind of lives in the documentary, so I don’t know if I really need to get back into a wrestling ring anymore. It’s something that takes a lot just to go back in. It’s painful, it’s intense and I’m glad I captured it on film so people can live that experience with me.”
You Cannot Kill David Arquette is now available on VOD and in select drive-theaters.