The NJPW Together project has been doing it’s best to keep us entertained during the COVID-19 break. Consequently, they have made 2018’s “My Dad is a Heel wrestler” available on New Japan World with English subtitles. It is a family movie starring NJPW’s Hiroshi Tanahashi. Tanahashi is great in “My Dad is a Heel wrestler”. I was fully expecting a WWE studios-esque movie and in some aspects it certainly was. However, this feels more like a Disney channel movie because it has more heart. The movie is an adorable father and son tale about not being ashamed of who you are.
It captures what it’s like to be a young wrestling fan.
The movie centers around wrestler Takashi Omura (Tanahashi) and his son Shota. Shota is ashamed after finding out that his father is the unpopular heel Cockroach Mask, so he tries to keep that same secret from his classmates. Due to peer pressure, Shota cheers for his father’s popular rival Dragon George (Okada). The movie really captures what it was like on the playground when friendships were decided by who your favorite wrestlers were.
Tanahashi is perfect for the role
Tanahashi is great in “My Dad is a Heel wrestler”. It’s easy to sympathize with his heel character because it’s impossible to dislike the Ace. The movie is cheesy yet genuine which is almost a perfect description of Tanahashi. Also, Tana is obviously believable in the role of an aging superstar. Above all, Tanahashi has surprisingly good acting chops.
The movie was based on an illustrated book
The movie has a family feel because it’s based on illustrated books by Masahiro Itabashi (writer) and Hisanori Yoshida (illustrator). Papa no Shigoto wa Warumono Desu was published in 2011 and Papa wa Warumono Chanpion in 2014. Shota even wears a red striped shirt because of the movie’s attempt to stay true to the book’s imagery.
It’s not just Tanahashi that is great in “My Dad is a Heel wrestler” because it’s chock full of NJPW cameos. There are cameos by Katsuya Kitamura, Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii, Tetsuya Naito, Hiromu Takahashi, Togi Makabe, Red Shoes Unno and more. Ryusuke Taguchi was the most impressive because of his portrayal of Cockroach Mask’s tag partner. It’s funny how the fictional promotion, Lion Pro, has all the trappings of NJPW.
The characters appeared in NJPW
At Fantastica Mania Final on Jan 21st, 2019 Tanahashi, Taguchi, Makabe, and Okada wrestled in full character. The NJPW appearance now makes more sense because I watched the movie. Dragon George & Sweet Gorilla Maruyama defeated Gokiburi Mask & Ginbae Mask. Gokiburi Mask got in his roach spray spot. Dragon George hit Ginbae Mask with a Dragon maker and won as a result. (13m 05s)
It would be better if it was dubbed in English
This family movie might not be good for the whole family due to the lack of an English dubbed version. Viewers who aren’t of reading age will have a tough time because of the subtitles. That is a shame because maybe children in that age range would dig this movie the most.