By Alex Al-Kazzaz
The Dark Side of the Ring is going to go down as one of the most interesting and exciting professional wrestling documentaries ever. Dark Side of the Ring is made by Vice on TV and it started back in April of last year. It covers some of the most controversial and infamous incidents and stories involving the world of professional wrestling.
The concept of this series is simply about depicting the truth and educating the viewers of what really happened. In other words, putting an end to the rumors, and coming 100 percent clean. The storytelling, the narrating, the interviews, the reenactments are superb. Perhaps, it's safe to say that the ultimate goal aside from enlightening the viewers was to simply bedazzle them. To say that a viewer will learn a thing or two in each episode of this series would be a major understatement. This series is really quite a life-changer.
The entire show is a roller coaster ride. It starts out smoothly, but it begins the intensity quickly intensifies. For anyone that hasn't watched the series yet, it's best to tell them, "Buckle up! This ride's only going to faster and faster! And it's not going to be a short ride."
A walkthrough of the series;
Benoit Part One and Two:
Season Two wasted no time in making an impact. The whole story surrounding Chris Benoit and his infamous double-murder-suicide was the perfect way to kick off season 2. The season takes us on a journey on Benoit's career. We g from his early years in Canada and Japan to his time in World Championship Wrestling to World Wrestling Entertainment.
This episode is difficult to watch. Based on what we learn, it's truly heartbreaking. David Benoit, who's Chris's remaining son revealed that WWE did not take care of him in the aftermath of what his father did. He even explains that the man who did what he did is not the Chris Benoit he knew and that the world knew. The viewers learn how much Chris loved and cared for his family and friends, as well as wrestling. Watching these two episodes, we learn how badly Chris was affected by the death of his best friend Eddie Guerrero.
The Life and Crimes of New Jack:
Jerome Young aka New Jack. A notorious wrestler that never hesitated from taking risks and utilizing a unique style of hardcore wrestling. New Jack's career really had its moments. From his time in Jim Cornette's Smoky Mountain Wrestling to Extreme Championship Wrestling. In addition, this episode talks about some of New Jack's impact on the Independent Circuit.
This episode goes like a timeline throughout his career. The Mass Transit incident in ECW, the infamous match against Gypsy Joe in 2003, the infamous scaffold match with Vic Grimes then the rematch a year later, and the incident with a wrestler at a show in Florida.
At this point, the ride just intensified...big time!
The Braw For All:
One of the most controversial stunts ever pulled in wrestling. Something caused much negative impact. Something that honestly never should have happened. The viewers just how bad of an idea it was and why it shouldn't have happened. What's really going to amaze the audience is how the whole idea came about. The reason why will truly blow the audience away.
What's really interesting about the episode, as well, is that we learn about the long-time feud and hatred between Jim Cornette and Vince Russo.
Jimmy Snuka and the death of Nancy Argentino:
Jimmy Snuka, a very well-known name in the world of wrestling. Known for his unique high-flying ability and his tendency to being a big draw in the business, Snuka made an impact and changed wrestling. However, the viewers learn of is life outside of the ring. Snuka constantly being on the road brings up much stress and drama. Snuka had a girlfriend with him and she accompanied him from town to town while he was working on the road.
The viewers are in for another session of learning. The difficult life of constantly being on the road had an effect on Snuka. It affected his relationship with Argentino. One day, something happened and Argentino died. Now the ride only intensifies further as viewers go through a timeline of the death, the investigation, and the aftermath. Then fast-forward decades later, Snuka is taken into custody, is found mentally incompetent to stand trial and he dies. To this day, the death of Argentino remains a mystery.
The Assasination of Dino Bravo:
Dino Bravo, a legend in Canada. He ran a promotion in Montreal and he was quite powerful. Soon after he goes to the WWE(then the WWF) but it doesn't go well and here's why: he was to work a high caliber main event match in Montreal against Hulk Hogan, but the match was suddenly canceled, resulting in Bravo abruptly leaving the company.
However, Bravo would soon return to the WWF, but that's when he entered a world he was not used to. In the WWF, he had no creative control, no booking power, no say what so ever. He was in a position that he had to do as he was told. It's safe to say his second run in the WWF didn't go well. He left the WWF in 1992 and was looking for a way to provide for his family. Bravo was related to former Montreal Crime Boss Vic Cotroni. As wrestlers don't receive retirement pensions, Bravo was desperate to make money, and he supposedly got involved with the Controni's taking part in an illegal cigarette smuggling operation.
When this episode comes to the point about Dino's sudden unexpected death, this is the part where ride only intensifies further. Bravo was found dead at his home, on his chair, with over 15 gunshot wounds to his body. It's believed that his death was a mafia hit, but it remains a mystery. It's also a mystery of what had led to his assassination.
David Shultz & The Slap Heard Round the World:
This is where things get even more interesting. Shultz, a villainous wrestler who lived his character. He was taught in the way of never breaking his character. In this episode, the viewers are in for a shocker as they'll learn that another wrestler literally exposed the world of professional wrestling to a reporter by the name of John Stossel. At the time, professional wrestling was really thought to be 100 percent legitimate. Real fighting.
One day, Stossel goes to a WWF show in Madison Square Garden in New York City. He goes to interview Shultz and literally tells Shultz to his face that he thinks that wrestling is fake, resulting in Shultz slapping Stossel twice. This began the downfall of Shultz's career in the WWF.
The viewers then see the aftermath and it's quite dumbfounding. Part of the aftermath is Vince McMahon officially declaring that professional wrestling is sports entertainment.
Cocaine & Cowboy Boots: The Herb Abrams Story
An episode that has viewers say to themselves, "Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda." Herb Abrams attempted to start his own wrestling promotion and was convinced he would be successful, even believing he would overthrow Vince McMahon from the world of wrestling.
However, Abrams had two serious problems; Cocaine and prostitutes. But then again, he had a habit of poor decision-making regarding his way of running his promotion, especially a habit of taking some unnecessary risks that hurt the promotion financially. Eventually, his promotion falls. During this time, the viewers learn of Abrams' notoriety for poor decision-making and not taking care of his talent.
This episode takes on a journey of Abrams' career to his untimely death. Viewers see the difficulty of being a promoter, and the consequences of not making the right decisions while running that promotion.
The Last Ride of The Road Warriors:
The Road Warriors, arguably the most popular tag team in the history of professional wrestling. Just when the ride couldn't get any wilder, it does. When it comes to the subject of tag-team wrestling, the name of The Road Warriors always comes to mind because they changed the name of tag-teaming. Honestly, they made tag-teaming a household name. Their characters were something that had never been seen before in wrestling.
Another timeline-like episode. It all started when they were bouncers at a bar in Minneapolis. They're approached by a former wrestler and they're invited to train as wrestlers and soon, their careers begin, although as singles wrestlers. Soon after, they were paired up and that's when their career began to pick up. The viewers are then taken on a journey on The Road Warriors' career from Georgia Championship Wrestling, to American Wrestling Association, to Japan, to World Championship Wrestling, to the World Wrestling Federation. We learn that they had success everywhere, but we learn a dark secret about one half of the Road Warriors that had a great effect on him and his career.
This episode comes to quite a heart-breaking conclusion, surrounding the death of Road Warrior Hawk in 2003. A way to regard this episode would be something like, "The Rise and Fall of The Road Warriors." Part of the episode is another hard lesson of the life a wrestler constantly on the road.
The Final Days of Owen Hart:
There was no better way to close out the series. Owen Hart is one of the most beloved names in wrestling. After what happened on that fateful day, May 23rd, 1999, fans have wanted answers surrounding what happened. This episode is going down as the series' best. Fans have waited for this for a very long time.
This episode is really going to get the viewers emotional. This episode is truly a sad story. The aftermath of Owen's death is shocking. Viewers are really in for some hard lessons now. It's a bit ironic that this episode comes out a few days before the 21-year anniversary of Owen's death. However, this episode did come at the proper time. The praise and respect for Owen have never been higher. The support for his widow Martha and his two children are also higher than ever. It was important to hear the words of Martha and her two children. They had to give a piece of their mind because it was how to get the truth.
Everything in this episode is perfectly detailed and analyzed, which is exactly how it should be done. It's about educating the viewers, so it's all about getting the facts straight. This episode really has an impact on wrestling fans. After over two decades of wondering what happened and wanting to know the truth, it finally comes out.
Learning about all these twisted stories, events, incidents, etc really is mind-boggling. Learning one thing to another the only way possible. As mentioned earlier, it's all about learning the truth. And this television documentary series really gave wrestling fans what they wanted.
The world of professional wrestling is full of dark secrets. When it comes to wrestling, what you see in the ring and/or on television is not the same thing that happens backstage or in the real world. In professional wrestling, there's many that fans are unaware of and when they learn something, it's quite overwhelming.