Straight Shooting: The opening night of Beyond The Mat
I call it a must-see movie for everyone, and gives my thoughts on the documentary.
March 20, 2000
By Fritz Capp
It was quite a drive. About 50 minutes to be exact before we pulled into the Regal Cinema parking lot down by Willow Grove, PA. But we knew it was worth the wait. Despite Vince McMahon’s efforts to slow or halt the advertisements for the movie, "Beyond The Mat" opened nationwide yesterday and I made sure I was going to be counted in the opening weekend numbers. Although we have done pretty extensive reporting on the movie over at pwbts.com I was still not quite sure what I was going to see. I knew that the reviews were good and the buzz was phenomenal but I didn’t want to give the movie expectations that it wouldn’t be able to live up to.
It opened with narration from Barry Blaustein telling how he has always been a fan of professional wrestling, although he admits to being a closet wrestling fan around his friends.
Now while I am not going to go in order so as not to totally remove any mystique the movie has for people who have not seen it yet, I will give my take on what I personally got out of the movie.
The first thing that caught my eye and made me wonder why it was there was his piece on the APW based out of California. The promotion is run by accountant Roland Alexander, and without realizing it the movie showed the seedier side of some promoters. While I have said that Alexander doesn’t care about the business in general and that he was only out for the money (a fact that came into stark realization when he was involved with the NBC expose on wrestling where everyone involved gave away the "secrets" while being under a mask), one part of the movie had his workers saying that they do not get paid unless management feels they put on a good match and then in the next clip you have Alexander saying they do but very meager sums of money. That meager sum is $25.00. They also showed one of the APW cards stating that it was a record crowd of 112 people.
Now I am sorry, but wasn’t there anyone better they could have done this with? How about someone who has been a part of the business for the majority of their lives and now run a school? In my mind this would be better than giving an overweight, out of touch accountant who believes in basically ripping off his workers such a plug. They chronicled Mike Modest’s trek to getting a WWF try-out showing his tryout with a fellow APWer, Tony Jones. The other thing that jumped out at me was that while they were doing their tryout it was revealed that Alexander may be more nervous than the wrestlers themselves because if they get signed he would get 20% of their salary. Needless to say I am even less impressed with Roland Alexander than I was beforehand. I didn’t think that was possible.
The movie did a pretty nice piece on Terry Funk showing his sensitive side at his daughter’s wedding and then took us on his trek to win the ECW World Title at "Barely Legal". It also touched on when Terry was told by his doctor that he needed a new knee - you have to hear Terry’s thoughts on that. They also showed parts of Terry’s farewell match against Bret Hart from 1997. Needless to say we all know Terry is still around. There are many more things on Terry but they are for the moviegoers to see for themselves.
The Jake Roberts section of the movie shows everyone just how far down this man has gone from his glory days in the WWF. Tales of him being a hardcore drug abuser and a neglective father run throughout this part of the movie, with Jake being reunited with his daughter after not seeing her for four years. Jake handled it in a fashion that made me feel that he got everything out of life that he deserved and brought upon himself.
We got to see small clips on New Jack where he talks about being a four time justifiable homicide participant. We also got to see a meeting between Vince McMahon and Droz when they were working him into the Road Warrior angle. The movie slightly touched on Chyna.
The majority of the movie, for me, was how they touched on Mick Foley and his injuries, his matches and the effects it had on his family. They showed clips from Mick’s "Hell in the Cell" match with the Undertaker and did the build up for his "I Quit" match with the Rock. Barry took you behind the scenes leading up to the "I Quit" match, showing Mick talking with The Rock about the upcoming match, and chronicled Mick’s family’s trek leading up to and including the eleven chair shots to Mick’s head and the subsequent backstage happenings directly afterwards.
During the whole movie you were taken to different parts of Mick’s life with his family, showing the world that wrestlers are people, and not just a bunch of clowns in spandex. One of the better parts was when Mick’s son got a small mouth injury while playing and you could hear Mick telling him to mix spit with it so it looked more serious, which he immediately did. It also showed just how badly Mick’s wife and children were upset by the ending of the "I Quit" match.
This is a must see movie for all wrestling fans and also for those who feel they know all about pro wrestling without as much as having a clue. I have barely scratched the surface of what all is in the movie but then again that is what I am trying to do. It would be easy to give a blow by blow transcript of the movie (I had my tape recorder with me) but after careful thought I decided to just give a few of the highlights and let everyone enjoy the movie for themselves.
If you ever want to see behind the scenes then this is a movie you should go see. While I feel the movie could have encompassed more people, I am forced to remember that WCW wanted editing control over the movie and that is why no one from WCW was involved with the production. As far as what Vince has been saying as to why he doesn’t like the movie, let me say right here and now that there is nothing in the movie that is so revealing that it would hurt the WWF. In fact, seeing the movie only shows that Vince McMahon is only mad because he does not have a financial piece of it.
I want to thank Barry Blaustein for taking the time to make this movie on the "real" side of pro wrestling. Maybe now the naysayers can learn a few things about the people behind the characters, and see that wrestlers are just as human as they are.
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