Beyond the Mat (** ½) – Why do people like to watch “professional” wrestling? This is a question that will plague generations. The new documentary, supposedly banned from placing ads during WWF events by Vince McMahon for revealing the “truth” about wrestling, doesn’t reveal ws much truth as one would hope.It starts with its creator narrating how he’s been a wrestling fan all his life. Very little history about the “sport” is revealed although some nicely edited parallels show the bloody mess that it has become. After about ten minutes of inside the WWF and the creation of a wrestler called “Puke” (who is now paralyzed), we take a large step back into wrestling’s version of Clown College. Here we meet various wrestler wannabes all training for their shot at the big time. From here we start a journey into the lives of three well-known wrestlers. Terry Funk is a legend in the industry, now pushing fifty with bad knees and a propensity to get his bloodied in every match. Nick “Mankind” Foley, who looks like Hannibal Lecter in the ring, but comes off like a true sweetheart with a loving family life. And finally way too much time is spent on Jake “The Snake” Roberts whose transition from a star in Wrestlemania and Saturday Night Main Event to hitting the road and looking for matches and Crack is never quite clear. The “real vs. fake” debate is never thoroughly questioned. One of the movie’s arguments is that wrestling isn’t as fake as it seems. But shouldn’t we be shown some footage that plays up the cartoon nature of the violence instead of just the clips where metal chairs make contact with heads? Wrestlers always defend the organization by calling themselves great athletes who know how to take and deliver a punch. Why not take the time to show us this then? Show us why a body slam doesn’t hurt or why a pile driver isn’t life threatening or what part of the metal chair or baseball bat you hit with so it doesn’t open a four-inch gash in your head. I wanted to see more where the writers tell their stars to “really sell that back injury.” When someone bleeds, we know it’s real. If it’s supposed to be all fake then wouldn’t one have to think that something drastically went awry, especially since all the wrestlers are very buddy-buddy backstage. The most telling moment of the whole film comes towards the end when Mankind has his family watch him get pummeled at ringside. The kids cry and are terrified alongside their mother. Afterwards Mankind is shown the footage at his home and realizes the effect this has on his children who don’t realize it’s fake and a show just like “The Muppets” – according to Vince McMahon.Beyond the Mat starts to resemble more HBO’s “Strippers: The Naked Stages” than an expose into a national phenomenon. We spend more than enough time on the three wrestlers who talk intimately about their families and/or fall from grace. It’s an interesting trip until you realize you’re watching nothing more than a giddy wrestling fan getting to meet his heroes and being saddened by them. Problem is, we don’t walk away knowing why he was giddy in the first place, leaving the original question still unanswered.