To date, Vince McMahon’s WWE Studios has mostly been known for trying to turn John Cena into this generation’s Jean-Claude Van Damme, but today it finally picked up a project that may force us to take it more seriously: WWE has bought the rights to John Capouya’s Gorgeous George: The Outrageous Bad-Boy Wrestler Who Created American Popular Culture, with the intention of making a biopic about the evil Liberace of the ring who became a huge star in the early days of television.
The picture breaks McMahon’s odd, self-imposed code of never doing a film about wrestlers, an exception he made because of the unique historical impact George had—not only within the world of professional wrestling (which borrowed all of his flamboyance and outsized theatricality, and the idea that audiences love rooting against a bad guy almost more than rooting for the good guy), but well beyond it. Both Muhammad Ali and James Brown said that they based their boastful self-promotion on George, while a chance meeting with Bob Dylan (which he later wrote about in The Chronicles) gave the young singer “all the recognition and encouragement I would need for years.”
In short, his is a pretty fascinating story—even ending in a requisitely cinematic fall from grace, where George had his signature blond locks shaved in the ring in his final match—that could make for an equally fascinating film, if done properly. McMahon has committed to a 2011 start date, making George the last of nine features it plans to crank out in less than two years—which sounds like a lot, until you consider that many of those films can be summed up as “we give Triple H a gun.”