HE’S GONNA PUKE!!! Famous lines from the billionaire and chairman of the WWE, Vince Mcmahon. Beyond The Mat was one of the first behind the scenes look at the world of professional wrestling. The documentary focused on the careers of Terry Funk, Mick Foley and Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts. It details the hardships of being the in wrestling business, how much it can take on the wrestler physically and mentally. Also how much strain it can put on the families of these wrestlers. This was the documentary that was billed as the ‘film that Vince Mcmahon did not want you to see!’
As a wrestling fan it was exciting to see your favourite wrestlers, favourite characters behind the scenes being there real selves. It was a raw in look to the theatrical and mysterious world of wrestling. Especially at this time when it was just on the cusp of the internet boom, the world of wrestling and the characters were hidden. The people behind the characters were committed to the art and did not break character. Beyond the Mat destroyed those barriers. The theatre and fun of wrestling with the good guys overcoming the bad guys was stripped away to show wrestler’s suffering for their art.
It is actually a hard watch to see your heroes as a kid suffering from drugs problems, pain problems and family problems. Beyond The Mat got rid of the filter of wrestlers being superheroes and realising that these are real people who perform 5 times a week, every week of the year for very little pay. As a fan, Beyond the Mat took the glitz and glamour of wrestling, but made me also respect the wrestler even more. The things these people sacrifice for the fans tandem on the line of martyrdom. This film is not an easy watch. Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts, one of the biggest wrestler in the late 80’s, is seen at rock bottom, taking drugs and estranged from his family. It is hard to see such a fall and in hindsight, the film probably didn’t help Jake much but there is a happy ending if you watch The Resurrection of Jake The Snake released 16 years later.
Beyond The Mat provides a rare insight into the sacrifices of professional wrestling. This made be considered a negative outlook into wrestling but I see this film to flip that. For many decades people have challenged the veracity of professional wrestling, and for many decades it has annoyed the business. Yes wrestling is pre-determined, just like your favourite TV shows, but the athleticism, the hits and falls are real. Beyond The Mat for the criticisms that it has taken from the business, is still one of the greatest and most raw look into the world of professional wrestling.