I recently got offered the opportunity to get a sneak peek at a Supermen: A Story of British Wrestling, a documentary featuring interviews from a number of different British wrestling personalities.
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Filmed over a year in 2012, it seems as if the documentary may have struck lucky with the talent available to it at this time and where they have gone onto. Firstly, there's Dave Finlay, who had been released by WWE in 2011 (after a house show incident, where he authorised The Miz to interrupt the US national anthem), and made only a handful of appearances on the UK independents (including Southside Wrestling Entertainment, one of the filming locations for the film) before being rehired by WWE in 2013. Then there's Doug Williams, who was working a more reduced schedule in TNA than years previous, meaning he was working the UK scene more often (including Brit-Wres Fest, another filming location) and on the opposite end of the scale, Rockstar Spud, who began filming TNA British Bootcamp in 2012 and has since gone on to become a major part of Impact Wrestling on Spike TV in the US and Challenge over this way. Veteran wrestler Robby Brookside has become a trainer for WWE's developmental league NXT, whilst Joel Redman has morphed into NXT's Oliver Grey winning the tag titles alongside Adrian Neville (the former PAC) as part of British Ambition. Alongside some other upcoming British names such as Robbie X and Jimmy Havoc, as well as more veterans in the form of Danny "Boy" Collins and Dave Taylor, this hours worth of footage feels star studded from the outset, and the big names draw the audience in, allowing some of the lesser known guys to really shine in this.
The documentary kicks off with a series of personal tales about getting into the business, which produces some interesting incites, non more so than that of than former TNA British Bootcamp star Marty Scurll , who talks about how wrestlers replaced his father as male role models in his life. The passion that Scurll feels for the business emanates through the screen, and it's difficult to not want to see him succeed further in wrestling after hearing his words. Matt Jarrett and his mother Lorraine also become stars early, as they tell about Jarrett's troubles, the pair are an enjoyable double act who crop up intermittently throughout.
We transition nicely into talk of the old days of British Wrestling, and whilst Robby Brookside and Ray Robinson's talk of how breaking into the business used to be, won't be particularly surprising to any seasoned wrestling fans, Rockstar Spud's talk about missing those veterans in the locker room, to learn from, is the real point of interest for me here. Brookside's talk about worrying that the British style is being superseded by that of America and Japan is an interesting one, especially with Brookside now working as a trainer for WWE.The crisp editing pays of as Dave Taylor and Jimmy Havoc chat about their diverging styles presented almost as a conversation between the two parties, cutting between each man at the relevant point to allow the other to retort. Whilst it isn't particularly new ground, at times, I began to wish that you could see this conversation for a real, as almost a wrestling version of Question Time. Promoters Ashcon and Abbas Rezazadeh's talk about the old British style being dead has more than just a hint of hyperbole about it, but there is certainly a following for their deathmatch style of wrestling, even if it's not something that I'm particularly fond of myself. (And yes guys, I'd much rather see a World of Sport legend than Matt Morgan)
A trip to Wickes with Ashcon and SOME GUY sheds more light on the deathmatch, as they pick up all they need from the hardware store, including a tub of barbed wire, who knew?! Whilst this is mildly entertaining, it's the look at Havoc's match with Mike Mason that stands out as a highlight. Following the pair around as they recover and then give their thoughts on the match is reminiscent of the scenes following Randy The Ram's deathmatch in The Wrestler. A really intriguing look into that type of wrestling and the damage it can do to the bodies of the performers who chose to go down that route.
The theme of injures develops with a number of interviewees chiming in on this one, including Jamie Hadley's casual mention of having a pain killer addiction. It's at this point that as fan you remember that what you see in the ring has an effect on the performers long after they get behind the curtain. This often get's forgotten in discussions amongst fans, so it's definitely a good thing to see it presented in that way here.
As he has been on TNA television over the past few months, Rockstar Spud continues to shine here. He comes across as a humble guy, contrasting with the character we see on Impact Wrestling, as he talks about not knowing anything until he has worked for WWE (I wonder if he still holds this viewpoint?) and regretting not spending more time with Robby Brookside. We hear from one of Brookside's students, Jimmy Meadows, as well as seeing some fascinating footage from Brookside's training school in Leicester.
It's then the turn of veterans Fit Finlay and Doug Williams to get the focus, as Finlay talks about dealing with the stardom that being on television for WCW and then WWE afforded him, alongside a great tale from Brookside of how Finlay kept his hardman image in Germany. We hear from both Williams and his wife Claire, as they tell us how wrestling has effected their relationship, with a number of wrestlers chiming in with their own experiences, as Williams mentions never being in WWE, and began to imagine how that would have effected their relationship further.
We close up with the cliché question "What does wrestling mean to you?" which is a mixed bag of ending for me. Whilst many talk about wrestling being their life, Alex Shane decides to talk about wrestling as a metaphor for life. It seems like he's trying too hard to say something clever, at times trying to convince himself that what he's saying is actually making sense. The two stars of the documentary for me, Robby Brookside and Rockstar Spud round things out nicely, with feel good answers, in fitting end to the documentary.
I thoroughly enjoyed this documentary, it was complete joy to sit an watch for an hour, as you can probably tell from reading the above. I would've have liked to have seen certain stories explored deeper, and more footage looking at the lives of wrestlers interspersed between the talking heads would have been fantastic. Personally, I think the documentary had scope to go at least half an hour longer than the version I saw, if not another hour, but whether someone else would sit and watch for that long is a different kettle of fish.
Below is some information about how the film will be made available (taken from the press release). I reccomend that you at least go and watch the film on it's Saturday 5th April (the day before Wrestlemania XXX) and if you don't think it's worth at least a FIVER to get your own copy on DVD then we might have to have some words.
The film will be available for FREE on www.supermenfilm.co.uk and hosted on YouTube. Viewers will be able to ‘tip’ money via PayPal which will help go to covering the costs of production. Donating £5 offers the viewer a physical copy of the standard edition DVD to be released in May. Donating £10 offers the viewer a physical copy of the Collector’s Edition DVD also to be released in May. Adding £2.50 to any of those offers will upgrade them to BluRay HD versions.
The standard edition DVD/BluRay will feature a standard copy of the film.The Collector’s Edition DVD/BluRay is a doubledisc pack that comes with the standard copy of
the film, and a bonus second disc with additional full interviews of Rockstar Spud and Dave
Finlay, and additional match material. There is potential for these extras to change, depending on viewer feedback.