Remember when you were a kid and every now and then a couple of boys (and even some girls) would want to have an arm wrestling competition? For boys, it was like a rite of passage, to show who was the strongest one among the bunch.
I remember being one of those boys early on, wanting to test myself against others to see if I was the strongest; but around middle school there were some boys that would beat me, yet weren’t as athletic or strong with weights. That’s when I started to realize arm wrestling doesn’t prove who’s toughest — it shows who has better technique and whose wrist and forearm are stronger. That’s it… after middle school, I never arm wrestled again (still haven’t), but it’s still fun to watch.
A couple years back I was browsing Netflix, looking for a good documentary, when I came across Pulling John. The summary talked about following the best arm wrestler in the world over a period of four years, and when those childhood memories of arm wrestling popped up, I decided to watch it.
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Much to my amazement, I enjoyed the film and was able to see the “Greatest Armwrestler of All Time” (according to the Guinness Book of World Records) in action as the film centered around John Brzenk, who is not a giant (6’1 and 200-225 pound range) but was beating guys much larger than him. He was basically unstoppable in the film, and even though I wouldn’t consider it a sport or combat, I was still entertained and enjoyed watching it.
Now, AMC has taken arm wrestling to a whole new level with their new show Game of Arms, which centers around five regional arm wrestling clubs in five cities across the U.S.: Erie, PA;New York City, NY; Kansas City, KS; Baton Rouge, LA; and Sacramento, CA. The show premieres today and AMC says, “Each episode features a dramatic regional match, leading to a tournament finale where the entire cast will compete for prize money and bragging rights.”
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Will AMC have a hit reality show on their hands? The creators of the show have a great track record — they’re the Emmy Award winning producers of Deadliest Catch — but the question remains, will they find an audience for the show?
Pulling John worked because it was good story-driven film, but it’s a different challenge to maintain suspense and excitement across different arm wrestlers for three months at a time. And it will be interesting to see if its audience draws crossover viewers: would they be MMA fans? WWE fans? Maybe Lucha Libre fans? We’ll see.
David Kano is lead writer for MMA Show News and co-host of The Hollywood MMA Show. You can follow him on Twitter @TheDKano.
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