Stuck in the Czech Republic as a result of a travel ban announced after the global Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, I watch one random film a day until the travel ban is lifted to keep some of my sanity intact.
I grew up a wrestling fan and still like to check in with the shows every now and then. Beyond the Mat is widely regarded as the best documentary about the business and it’s hard to disagree with that statement. It also benefited the fact that it was made during a time when the professional wrestling world had exposed itself, and had publicly announced that it wasn’t a sport but staged entertainment.
Barry W. Blaustein directed the documentary and he features himself in the movie, though not as prominently as Roger Moore does in his works. He introduces himself as a wrestling fan and his respect and empathy for the business is felt throughout Beyond the Mat.
This doesn’t stop him from exposing some of the darker sides of the business. Two parts stand out: the documentation of a drug-addicted Jake “The Snake” Roberts dealing with persoal demons and Mick Foley’s family sitting at ringside, watching his father get brutally battered in and outside of the ring during a match against The Rock.
The portrayal is quite complete. It includes priceless insights on the behind-the-scenes machinations of a major WWE (then WWF) show and even a surprisingly open Vince McMahon. As well as that, we catch glimpses of the independent scene, alternative wrestling promotion ECW and much more. Thus, it is a pretty complete documentation of the world of professional wrestling and to this day, hasn’t been topped.
BEYOND THE MAT | Director – Barry W. Blaustein | USA | 1999