Beyond the Mat (1999) - Barry W. Blaustein


Director: Barry W. Blaustein

PRODUCERS: Barry W. Blaustein
Barry Bloom
Brian Grazer
Ron Howard
Michael Rosenberg

WritER: Barry W. Blaustein

Narrator: Barry W. Blaustein

Imagine Entertainment,
Lions Gate EntertainmenT,
Universal Family & Home Entertainment

DistributOR:  Universal Pictures

Release date: October 22, 1999

Running time: 102 minutes

Country: United States

Language: English

BudgeT: $500,000

Box officE: $2,053,648

Beyond the Mat is an eye-opening documentary from 1999, about Professional Wrestling in the late nineties. I had been a fan of this film since it's release on video and shared it with all of my high-school friends. It's an awesome documentary that can help turn people into wrestling fans by giving them a backstage look at the WWE, then the WWF (World Wrestling Federation), and how the product is brought to world every week. 

This film leaves nothing in the dark. We get an intimate look at the inner workings of promotions like the WWF, ECW and independent bay-area promotion, APW. It's a chance to see how wrestlers become superstars by the hand of the almighty Vince McMahon. We look at these performers and how their lives are affected, both negatively and positively, in this very secretive business. It's worth the time just to see Vince McMahon critiquing wrestlers with commentator, Jim Ross. It's worth it to watch ECW promoter, Paul Heyman creating the Extreme Championship Wrestling product in his mother's basement! It's an emotional look at the lives of legends like Terry Funk, Mick Foley, Jake Roberts and many more, as they balance their lives both in the squared circle and out of it.

Most wrestling fans agree that this is one of the most important documentaries for fans of wrestling. They get some amazing footage and interviews with WWF/ECW wrestlers like Mick Foley, Terry Funk, Vince McMahon, Jake Roberts, Dave Meltzer and APW's promoter, Roland Alexander. We also get an intimate look at the family lives of most of these names. Beyond the Mat is a phenomenal look at the wrestling business. A documentary that cannot be replicated today. 

The Wrestler (2008) - Darren Aronofsky


The Wrestler is a intense look at the life of a down-and-out wrestler.

Directed: Darren Aronofsky

Produced: Darren Aronofsky, Scott Franklin

Writer: Robert Siegel

Starring: Mickey Rourke, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood

Studio: Weisblum
Production Co., Wild Bunch, Protozoa Pictures, Fox Searchlight Pictures

Release date: September 5, 2008

Country: United States

Budget: $6Million

Box office: $44.7Million

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The Wrestler is an independent dramatic film from 2008, directed by Darren Aronofsky. It stars Mickey Rourke as the lead character, Randy "The Ram" Robinson. Randy is an aged performer that appears to be edging closer and closer to the end of his rope. It's a realistic and depressing look at professional wrestling, and the effect it has on the superstars from the past. I had attended an early screening of this film at the Arclight Theater in Hollywood in early 2008. It was tremendous. Everyone was emotionally moved and we all stood and applauded. It was a shoe-in for Best Picture. Unfortunately, 2008 was an insane year for movies and it had incredible competition with films like Slumdog Millionaire, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Frost/Nixon, Milk and The Reader. The Wrestler didn't even make it into the running. Don't feel bad though, neither did The Dark Knight. 

In this movie, we follow The Ram in modern times. Old. Poor and too far disconnected from the world he lives in. He isn't doing too well and is only pulling in a few sheckles by wrestling on the independent circuit. Regardless of his declining health both mentally and physically. We see the impact of his lifestyle on himself and his own family that he has harmed. Randy is trying to figure out which way he should go in his life. Does he take a normal 9-to-5 job, or does he stay wrestling regardless of his ailing health. 

This movie is filmmaking at its finest. Mickey Rourke puts in the performance of a lifetime. He had literally become a professional wrestler for this role. This was incredible. The emotion. The raw emotion that is put on screen is heavy. It has weight. Rourke has such a great performance that he had a small career revitalization after the release of this film. It's hard to watch and not be hit in the feels. Also we have tremendous performances from Evan Rachel-Wood as the daughter of Randy, and Marisa Tomei as his love-interest. All of them are so fantastic. This is acting at its best. Aronofsky does a tremendous job of capturing a very secretive business and shows how it works on the inside. It's an eye-opening look that will definitely get you talking.