Beyond the Mat (1999)

Beyond the Mat (1999)

The quintessential ‘90s pro wrestling documentary that shows that the top of the mountain carries more insanity than glory

The Very Best

8.0

Movie

United States of America
English
Documentary
1999
BARRY W. BLAUSTEIN
Accie Julius Connor, Aurelian Smith Jr., Barry W. Blaustein
102 min

TLDR

The carny business ain’t a shiny business. For many people, there is no beyond that mat.

What it's about

This documentary gives us a behind-the-curtain look into '90s WWF, ECW, and the independent pro wrestling scene; and primarily follows the stories of notable wrestlers Terry Funk, Jake Roberts, and Mick Foley.

The take

Tale as old as time: longform wrestling content catered to a general audience kicks things off with disclaimers and explanations of what pro wrestling really is. But director and producer Barry Blaustein also does a fantastic job as narrator, guiding us with friendly fanboy insights through Terry Funk’s sincere inability to retire, the beginning of Jake Roberts’ self-destruction, Mick Foley’s perceived invincibility, and the cacophony of backstage stories in the late ‘90s that the film strings together. As if all that wasn’t enough, so many oddball and iconic skits (i.e. “I’m not booked, Terry”) push this from great to quintessential.

What stands out

Those chair shots were a bad idea then (more so now), but I respect how quickly Mick Foley processed what needed to change.

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