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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 30.23%
Average: 30.23%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 0%

5 reviews, 13 user ratings

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Beyond the Mat
[] Buy posters from this movie
by Chris Parry

"Let's get readyyyyyyy to rumblllllllllllllllllle.."
5 stars

So you're not a wrestling fan? Think it's all fake? Think it's make believe? I guess you're right. You like James Bond films though, right? They're fake too. The difference is that in Bond films everyone gets a trailer and a chunk o'change for their troubles. In wrestling, you get the bejesus belted out of you on a daily basis. You get battered, bruised, sliced and diced, and you do it for chump change. It's a machine that takes large men in and spits them out the other end when they don't draw the cheers anymore. This documentary goes behind the glitz and glamour to look at the people who get reamed by the system, the people who run the system, the home life, the road life, and the lost life. And whether you're into the wrestling thing or not, it's very, very, very good.

When I was a kid I thought Jake The Snake Roberts was awesome. He was bad ass. Sneaky and quick, he wasn't muscled up or 8 feet tall, he was just smart and nastay. Now he's on crack. That's a shock to a guy, when one of his heroes hits the deck so hard, when someone you once wished you could be like turns out to be someone incapable of making the day without smoking the glass penis.

I also used to cheer loud for a guy called Terry Funk. Terry was old school, a brawler with no fear of pain. He'd regularly take shots to the head and split like a watermelon, but it just made him madder. I was in awe of Terry Funk. But I never wondered what happened once he left the ring and had to go get stitched up. I never considered his family, his aching bones, his inability to follow his in-ring persona with an outside ring life.

When Koko B.Ware disappeared, I never gave him a second thought. Once a high flyer on a big pay-packet, he just left one day and was replaced with a new gimmick. Who knew he was still around, eeking out a living on the small town rasslin' circuit, still squeezing the last drops out of a gimmick that was never any good to begin with.

And then there's Mick Foley. The man who made rooting for the bad guy good. A guy who would launch himself off anything, head first at anything. A man who wanted to give the fan's constantly bigger thrills, constantly bigger cheers, constantly bigger chances that he'd not get up. He has kids. And I, nor did he, ever really wonder what those death defying acts did to their wellbeing.

Beyond The Mat is a masterwork. It does for wrestling what When We Were Kings did for boxing. Barry Blaustein has followed these guys around the USA and Canada for years, recording what life is like when the spotlights are turned off, when the injuries take their toll, when moves go wrong and backs are broken.

Be clear on one thing, this is not a documentary film for wrestling fans only. Just as last year's Hitman Hart: Wrestling With Shadows showed a human side to these monsters and demonstrated just how badly they get reamed by the system, so too does Beyond The Mat. Wrestling With Shadows was the story of one man, and it was a devastating doco. This one is the story of many, and it piles on the hurt. It is an exceptionally in-depth, well made film that will keep your attention from start to finish and ensure that, even if you don't like wrestling, you'll give a little more respect to the little boys with big dreams behind it.

If a documentary's object is to inform, entertain, provoke debate and perhaps change opinions, then Beyond The Mat is every bit as good as the best docos of the last five years.

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originally posted: 07/20/00 20:53:31
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User Comments

5/30/11 RLan Extremely well done. I can't believe that Jake Roberts is still alive! 5 stars
10/30/05 K. Sear Some stron moments but overall nothing special. 3 stars
5/20/05 dwarzel Entertaining and thought-provoking insider stuff. 5 stars
12/09/04 Kristina Williams as a WWE fan, this shows the REALITY of wrestling 5 stars
4/06/04 Ken Stryker feel sorry for jake roberts daugther 5 stars
1/21/02 Dan This film does a great job of giving this sport, and yes it is a sport, some respect. 5 stars
10/02/01 Phoenix An excellent documentary. 5 stars
10/06/00 Wannabe Deep shit. Entertaining and disturbing. Roger and me eat your hear out. (somewhat) 5 stars
9/18/00 The Bomb 69 hate wrestling but this movie was great, Jake the Snake is a crack whore!!! 5 stars
9/07/00 The REAL Game 3:16 * * * * (out of * * * *) Brilliant; Incredible Wrestling Documentary is 2000's best movie. 5 stars
9/04/00 The Extreaminizer Piercing, steel-shattering wrestling documentary is the best movie of 2000. 5 stars
7/20/00 Klute. Not the quintessential be all end all wrestling story, but a damn good one regardless. 4 stars
7/14/00 AF RANGER Fucking Excellent, These Guys Are More Real Than 99% Of Athletes Out There... 5 stars
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  22-Oct-1999 (R)
  DVD: 23-Mar-2004



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