Documentary - Supermen: A Story of British Wrestling

Steve Taylor-Bryant reviews a self financed wrestling documentary from a British perspective...

I will be quite honest, I haven’t really had an eye on the British wrestling scene for many a year, preferring instead to watch our US counterparts with all their razzamatazz, so when Producer/Director Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou kindly sent me a review copy of Supermen I didn’t quite know what to expect. What I watched wasn’t Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks but instead a documentary that educated the viewer.

We all love wrestling and, with Pay per View after Pay per View, we are reminded about the showmanship and bright lights of Sports Entertainment. However, whilst we eat our corn snacks and drink our beer and tune in, we forget that beneath the facade there are real men and women working through extraordinary stresses and the pain barrier for our entertainment. Yes, the wrestlers involved in the Supermen documentary are British but the stories they tell transcend geography. Whether it is the older generation and their immersion in the sport from an early age and tight knit group, the likes of Dave Finlay, Dave Taylor and Robbie Brookside, or the newer hotshots Rockstar Spud of Impact Wrestling, Joel Redman (Oliver Grey in NXT), 'Party' Marty Scurll, and the strains of trying to make it in an industry with little or no support, the different roads taken by British fighters gives a real insight into the world of wrestling.

Conversations about what is "British" style differ, with the retired guys having certain ways of wanting to perform versus the more showmanship acting of the newer generation. The scene with promoter Ashcon Rezazadeh in a D.I.Y shop buying razor wire and boards and talking about extreme rules and death matches was insane to listen to. You watch with awe when the fights are occurring but when the reality of what is being bought and how it will be used is actually explained, it sits uncomfortably with me.

You also watch the bouts with glee, knowing the outcome is sorted beforehand and these are trained professionals, so nothing will be wrong in the background. How wrong we all are. Drug addiction due to the high level and regularity that pain medication is used was shocking. Dave Taylor explains in one interview that he fought on a WWE foreign show with a knee injury and broken ribs.

Relationships come under the microscope, the strain on marriages with the constant travelling and, quite literally, putting health on the line seems commonplace.

The editing is flawless and the documentary moves at a brisk pace and, with the likes of Rockstar Spud with his current popularity involved in the project, the film should have the credibility to get seen by a wider audience which it thoroughly deserves.

This is a “behind the mask” film. It shows the dirty secrets that as fans we don’t normally see and my respect for the wrestling fraternity has gone right up. It is also documentary film making of the highest order. Well done to all for their candour and to Hassan I say thank you for bringing this film into my life.

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