Beyond the Mat (1999)
Critic Consensus: Even if you aren't a fan, Beyond the Mat provides a riveting, perceptive look into the world of professional wrestling by taking a closer look at the people beneath the personas.
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Critic Reviews for Beyond the Mat
Documentaries are almost always more interesting if the filmmakers fess up about their relationship to the subject, as unabashed pro-wrestling fan Barry Blaustein does in this naively made, compelling homage to the sport.
A gently and genuinely observed film whose subject is a garish, artificial display of mayhem.
We tour the All-Pro Wrestling School in California and Philadelphia's fearsome Extreme Championships, but it's the studies Blaustein makes of several wrestlers that root the film.
Entertaining and twisted.
Audience Reviews for Beyond the Mat
Adult professional wrestling fans aren't stupid, we know wrestling is fake and the outcomes are pre-determined. What none fans don't realize is why we like it. It's the drama, the pageantry, the cheesy stories, the costumes, and most of all the action. Yes, it's pre-determined and choreographed, but you still need to be charismatic and athletic, and night after night these guys put their bodies on the line just for our entertainment. People have been killed and paralyzed doing this, so to anyone who says it's not real and takes no skill, I point to this documentary. Beyond The Mat looks into the lives of these guys outside the ring and show the ancient Terry Funk, whose body has been ravaged from years in the ring. He can barely walk anymore, but still has to get in there and has to do this because it's all he knows and what he loves. Jake "The Snake" Roberts is also featured and he talks about how eight years on the road with WWE and how it made him a neglectful father, a bad husband, and a drug addict. Roberts says between the pain and the constant moving around he could never have done it without drugs! Finally, they look at Mick Foley AKA Mankind, Dude Love, Cactus Jack and show how he's this normal family man and while his family knows it's for show, how much they worry. In the last 30 years, hundreds of pro-wrestlers have died under the age of 45, most of them due to the physical trauma they've put their bodies through or the dependence on drugs that has resulted from it. If those were NFL or MLB stars instead, there would be massive reform and congressional intervention, but the truth is no one cares about these guys, except of course their families, friends, and fans. Beyond The Mat is important because it shows just what these guys put on the line and just how little the people at the top care.
If you liked The Wrestler, you'll like this documentary because its the same story yet its all true. And if you like wrestling, you'll like this documentary because its got lots of wrestlers and lots of wrestling in it. And if you hate wrestling, you'll like this documentary because it shows you exactly why you hate wrestling so very much.
The best documentary that I have ever seen on professional wrestling. Those who were fans of the sport in the 80s will be appalled at the current state of the wrestlers of that era.
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