by Steve Sullivan
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What can I say about professional wrestling? I believe it to be as physical or more so than any officially recognized sport. Since wrestling is scripted, it is considered sports entertainment. Even so, pro wrestling is more physical than football or hockey, and wrestlers have no off season. This documentary speaks with many well-known wrestlers about the trials, tribulations, and rewards of being in the wrestling industry.
Bloodstained Memoirs focuses on nine wrestlers, some more in depth than others. Two wrestlers in particular are prominently featured, and rightfully so. Roderick Toombs, better known to wrestling fans as Rowdy Roddy Piper, was never one to shy away from the truth. Piper reiterates a thought many have held for almost thirty years. Without a hated villain (Piper), the conquering hero (Hulk Hogan) would have never been able to make WrestleMania such an enormous success. But, to the victor goes the spoils. While Hogan gets whisked away with Mr. T in a limousine for an after-party, Piper and tag team partner Bob Orton, Jr. get ushered out the back of Madison Square Garden.
Piper has a major problem with writers being involved in the sports entertainment process. With writers in the picture, there is no individuality. Everyone speaks from a single voice, which eventually makes the product predictable and stale. Piper also talks candidly about the dangers of being a villain in the sport back in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Before one show, near his dressing room, Piper was stabbed by some crazy fan. And speaking of crazy, this incident was the third time Piper had been stabbed. That doesn’t seem scripted to me.
Keiji Muto, aka The Great Muta, is a legend of Japanese wrestling. Americans became familiar with his unique style in the late 80’s during his stint with the National Wrestling Alliance. Muto’s matches with Sting and “Nature Boy” Ric Flair were classics. Muto perfected a move known as “the moonsault”. This move is executed by first making sure your opponent is lying prone on the mat. The wrestler than climbs to the top rope and does a backflip/splash combo. When done properly, the moonsault is a thing of beauty. Muto is not only an in-ring performer; he is also the president of All Japan Pro Wrestling. For many decades, Japan has been famous for its “death matches”, which employ weaponry of all kinds, including barbed wire, mini explosions, fluorescent light bulbs, etc. Since these matches are more adult in nature, Muto has none at his shows. All Japan is funded by sponsors, which shy away from violence. Funny enough, one of All Japans biggest sponsors is Hello Kitty. The most enlightening revelation from Muto’s segment is one simple statement: wrestling is an art.
Chris Jericho is interviewed, but speaks mostly of his band Fozzy. Mick Foley is shown at an autograph signing at Borders in England. He’s not officially interviewed, but he does tell a funny joke about his friend and host of this documentary, Al Snow. “Superfly” Jim Snuka basically is just happy, with nothing of merit to add to the proceedings.
Bloodstained Memoirs is a fascinating documentary from David Sinnott. The extras are interesting, especially an extra section of the Roddy Piper interview, where he talks about his experience working with director John Carpenter on the film They Live. There is also a bonus interview with Christy Hemme, the winner of WWE’s first Diva Search, as well as a blooper reel of host Al Snow. If wrestling is an art, then it’s fun to hear the process from the artists.
Steve Sullivan is a graduate of Southwestern Michigan College in Dowagiac, Michigan, with an associate’s degree in Communications. Steve currently resides in Niles, Michigan.
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