Last night was the perfect night to be a wrestling fan. No, there wasn’t a special Wednesday edition of WWE Raw or a top-secret PPV event. Instead, it was a blast from the past which caused so much excitement.
As I was channel surfing at about 10:55, I came across this show on the Biography channel called, “Exposed: The Secrets of Wrestling.” The show featured masked wrestlers (they wore masks for the sake of not jeopardizing their careers) who revealed all sorts of everyday tricks that make up the illusion of pro wrestling. The show was going off when I tuned in, but when I checked my Directv guide to see what was coming on next, my heart sprang like a kid on Christmas morning. The schedule showed a documentary on the life of Andre the Giant was airing at 11, with the “The Unreal Story of Professional Wrestling” following at midnight and a repeat showing of “Exposed” at 2 a.m. This meant that I had a mind-blowing four hours of wrestling goodness awaiting me.
If you weren’t able to catch any of these shows or have never seen them, I suggest you check them out. They are all old shows that have aired multiple times on the A&E channel over the years (they aired on that channel before there ever was a Bio channel). The Andre documentary gives a very human look into the man who was perhaps the single most recognizable name in the history of the sport. It detailed his humble beginnings in France into becoming the biggest international wrestling attraction of the 1970s and early 80s. Various friends and wrestling personalities (Vince McMahon, Arnold Skaaland, Tim White, etc.) gave insight into the man who made the myth. They also gave their perspective to many legendary Andre stories (such as his extreme alcohol consumption and McMahon talking about a question an anesthesiologist had for Andre prior to a surgery). It also touches on the isolation and pain he experienced as a result of being one of the biggest men in the world. Many of his friends remarked about how lonely Andre was despite the fact he was constantly surrounded by fans, females, other admirers at all times. For anyone too young to remember Andre, you should really go out of your way to own this. The show originally aired in the late 90s when wrestling was very mainstream. You should be able find it easily from online retailers such as Amazon.
The Unreal Story of Pro Wrestling is hands down my favorite wrestling documentary of all time. The show is an examination of the history of the industry from it’s beginnings in the 19th century to it’s apex of popularity in the late 90s. What really makes this so enjoyable is the inclusion of commentary from many early legends of wrestling. This is the only documentary that can boast McMahon, Lou Thesz, Verne Gange, Killer Kowalski, and Freddie Blassie, in addition to modern stars like Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Shawn Michaels, Kevin Nash, Randy Savage, Jeff Jarrett, and Eric Bischoff. It’s a two hour in-depth piece that really does a great job of explaining the defining moments and stars of each era of wrestling up until that point in time. It was produced in 1997 so you get alot of footage from major WCW and WWE events of that period. It’s available on Amazon and has been in my wish list for years. Now that I’m writing this, I really have no idea why I haven’t purchased it yet.
Exposed is one of the more interesting shows I have ever seen about wrestling. Even though I’m a seasoned fan (watching since I was five and I’m currently 25) I must admit that there were a ton of secrets revealed that I had no idea about. I knew about blading (when a wrestler cuts himself to give the illusion his opponent has just busted him open), but it was cool to see the role the referee plays in the process. They also showed how to properly execute basic moves as the bodyslam, punches, kicks, and suplexes. Watching the examples really showed me the importance of selling (term used to describe how a wrestler acts like they are in pain) in a match. Good or bad selling can make the difference between a good match and a bad one. They covered the role of ringside managers, plants (people who are paid to interfere in a match) in the audience, how to take high-flying moves, taking a proper chairshot, and just about everything else you see in a typical wrestling match. The show really emphasized the teamwork required by each performer on a card to bring the illusion of pro wrestling to life for the audience. Once you watch this show you will have a newfound respect for the guys who literally put their bodies, and lives, on the line every night for our entertainment. In watching the closing credits of the show I saw that it was produced in 1998. It kind of makes sense that a show about the inner workings of the industry would’ve been released during the year when wrestling was at its peak of popularity. I strongly encourage newbie and veteran fans alike to seek this out. I’m sure a copy of it can be found on Amazon or you can watch it on You Tube.
To sum it all up, the Biography channel gave wrestling fans a real treat. Two thumbs way up!!!!!!