Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Backyard - Wrestling movie

Harley Race would climb in to the ring at some point during every WLW show I worked on.  The message was the same each time.  The barrel chested icon of the squared circle, a man who has made ample money from abusing himself for the entertainment purposes, would warn the attending crowd of the dangers of backyard wrestling.  He knows what he is talking about.

 I recently watched a documentary titled, “The Backyard”.  The film focuses on several different “federations’ of “Backyard” wrestlers.  It is a very candid and straightforward look into the world of this movement.  I personally found the production more disturbing than entertaining.  I found myself feeling ashamed and embarrassed for the cast of characters being showcased / exploited.  There are no doubts some of these feelings manifested due to my 9 years as a Professional Wrestler.  I am, for the most part, proud of my wrestling career and things I had the opportunity to do and accomplish during my run as the Drill Instructor.

I do not endorse “backyard” wrestling at all.  I know probably every wrestling fan has wrestled around the yard with a sibling or friend or all over the house with their mom’s yelling at them to stop.  We have all done it.  The majority of the time there was no harm to anyone.  Backyard wrestling is different.  People are getting hurt, young people.  In the makeshift rings in the backyard they try to emulate what they have seen on TV and the internet.  They include all the light bulbs, thumb tacks, tables, barb wire, fire and razors of the most hard core of matches.  All of this is done without training.  I am not talking about paying your dues in the ring.  I mean actual training by a legitimate wrestling school.  The most talented and the bet trained workers still get hurt.

The film showcases several individuals who talk about “being in the business” and they are chasing their dreams.  I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you are not “in the business”.  They are no more on the road to chasing their dream, anymore than a game of waffle ball will prepare you for the major leagues.

The majority of the people in this film remind me of the illiterate hoosiers the news crews interview at the scenes of the crimes.  The initial participants conducted their matches in their yard, with their mom standing to the side berating them (this was her character) and a girlfriend filming them.  The whole relationship had a kinship of something you might expect from “Deliverance”.  They would film promos, do ring intros, name their matches and film the whole thing to watch back later.  They said the storyline and inspiration was the abuse they sustained as children from their parents.  You would have to watch this to truly appreciate how sick this scenario was.

The film producer then takes us on a trip that spans from coast to coast and across the ocean to England, spotlighting these groups along the way.  The IQ level of all that were focused on was at a no doubt well below average.  If I had not been a wrestler, I would have probably responded to this film by saying, “Look at these inbred, illiterate, pitiful mouth breathers.”  All joking aside, many appeared to have some type of mental handicap.  Equally disturbing, were the parents and adults that encouraged what their kids were doing out back in the yard.

I have also seen the dirty side of the wrestling business.  There are promoters and wrestlers that will take advantage (take their money) of the “Backyard” morons and make all types of promises to them.

Overall the film did what it was supposed to do.  Wrestlers and their fans have always had the stigma of not being brain surgeons.  I take offense to that as well.  Though it may be the case for many, there are many, many intelligent wrestlers and fans.  I guess I feel the way that I do about this film because it hits pretty close to home.  It does a supreme job of exploiting the non intelligent side of wrestling, makes of fun of those not smart enough to know they are being made fun of and highlights it with a ton of carnage.

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