Beyond the Mat - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Beyond the Mat Reviews

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December 3, 2015
Being a wrestling fan my entire life as you get older and realize there is more that meets the eye you become interested in the behind the scenes stuff than you do the actual action in the ring. So needless to say when Beyond the Mat came out in theatres, I was there the first day. This documentary really takes you behind the scenes of the wrestling business and how it effects the people involved. Not just the wrestlers, but their families as well. The one story that obviously sticks out to everyone who has seen this movie is Jake the Snake Roberts. His battle with addiction is documented here and his fall from grace to where he is in this film, actually makes me who is a fan of Jake, very sad. It was actually heart wrenching to see him like this. Since this movie he has cleaned up and stayed sober, but wow. This is a really close and personal devastating look at a former superstar that has just lost everything but still trying to retain some of that old glory wrestling in front of 30 people in a bingo hall. Taking his earnings from the nights match and spending it on crack in a motel room. Very sad. But a very true look at what a lot of these former wrestlers end up like and deal with after their time in the spotlight is over and done with.
September 10, 2015
Still think wrestling is fake?
½ July 25, 2015
A cool look behind-the-scenes with some great characters that tell the story.
½ December 2, 2013
Perhaps the greatest and most honest documentary on wrestling ever made. Produced by Ron Howard and filmed /directed by Barry Blaustein one of Howards closests friends and shot during a brief hiatus between the pair,. This is one extraordinary documentary not only of professional wrestling but also sports in general - If you can find it watch .you will not be disappointed
November 29, 2013
A great pro wrestling documentary/film. It's great seeing the behind the scenes footage and stories that this movie let us have a inside look to.
As a pro wrestling fan, this is golden! These guys are bigger then life on the screen, but this movie shows the daily struggles of being hurt and trying to make it big.
½ October 23, 2013
I have to preface this by stating I am not at all a pro-wrestling fan. But good documentaries make you care about the subject matter no matter your pre-conceived notion. And that's exactly what this one did. Now, thats not to say if I were a pro-wrestling fan I wouldnt get more out of this, I am sure I would. I think it works because it shows people - hopes and dreams are universal. This documentary focuses on McMahon and the WWF (when it was known as that) and the ECW (when it existed). Also featured are several wrestlers, but specifically Jake 'the Snake' Roberts, Mick Foley, and the iron man Terry Funk. Interviews included the Rock, Jesse Ventura and a variety of sub-players. There is nothing fake about the brutality and pain in the ring (and out of the ring in Roberts' case). Really puts a human face on this industry, to much of one for Vince McMahon who tried to sue to get this pulled from release
June 26, 2013
An unflinching insight into the wrestling world, call it scripted but after this film you'll never call it fake.
June 10, 2013
Awesome Wrestling documentary.
½ May 23, 2013
A decent look behind the scenes, but at times, it's dishonest. I suppose that's par for the course for its subject matter.
March 29, 2013
A good documentary if you are a wrestling fan!
March 26, 2013
Compelling look inside the world of professional wrestling, but the film-making is a little disjointed. A few too many stories to focus on, and not enough of any of them.
March 7, 2013
For over a century, the world of professional wrestling has entertained its fans, and been the target of people who say it's "fake" without making a logical reason as to why they say it's fake.

This documentary, marketed as "The film Vince McMahon DOESN'T want you to see," follows professional wrestlers from the independent circuit (local/regional promotions that put shows on in the area the company calls home) and two of the biggest professional wrestling promotions in the late 1990's, the World Wrestling Federation (renamed World Wrestling Entertainment not too long after the release of this film) and Extreme Championship Wrestling (which was bought out by the now-WWE a few years after the release of this film), and wrestlers who are no longer in the spotlight.

The film does not have budget of a major Hollywood release, and it shouldn't. It's not about the glitz and glamor the fans see, it's about the men and women who put their bodies and lives on the line every time they step inside the "squared circle" (the ring).

The film focuses on just a few wrestlers. Namely Mick Foley (wrestling under the name Mankind, the reigning WWF World Champion), Terry Funk, 1980's star Jake "The Snake" Roberts and to a lesser degree, Jerome Young, who wrestled in ECW (and still wrestles as) New Jack. It also focuses on to indy (independent) wrestlers, one of which I've heard of in magazines and online. It also features Darren Drozdov, who was literally hired in front of the film's cameras and given the gimmick (character) known as "Puke", based on the fact that he was able to make himself vomit at will (I kid you not! He is shown demonstrating this "skill". However, he would later be repackaged as Droz. At the end of the movie, it is briefly mentioned that he was paralyzed during a match three months after filming wrapped. Eight years later, he is still in a wheelchair.)

It doesn't present the wrestlers in their respective characters, it presents the persons behind the characters. It shows Foley as a loving family men who is a big kid, It shows Funk nearing one of his numerous retirements (he is notorious for returning to wrestling after retiring). And it shows Roberts as a drug addict (he is shown lighting up a crack cocaine pipe on camera).

You get to see the behind-the-scenes business of three promotions, an independent promotion, the WWF and ECW. It shows Foley discussing a pay-per-view match with Dwayne Johnson, who was known as "The Rock" (this is Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson who is now an actor who starred in such recent movies as "Gridiron Gang" and "The Scorpion King"). You get to see ECW as it makes its debut on Pay-Per-View Television debut, which includes an incredible inspirational speech by then-owner Paul Heyman. And we get to see the backstage aftermath of the Mankind/The Rock match, which literally brought Foley's young daughter to tears to the point that Foley's wife has to remove her children from their front row seat and bring them backstage (Foley received multiple shots to the head with a steel chair in the match, which is shown through the film crew's camera).

Another wrestler the film focuses on is one of Foley's longtime friends, Terry Funk. Funk, a second generation wrestler whose brother Dory Jr. also wrestles. We get to see Funk as he goes to the doctor, who advises him to get knee replacement surgery. This prompts him to announce his (one of many) retirement at the reception of his daughter's wedding. We then follow him around he begins to wind down his career. We see him, and his family, at the debut ECW PPV, ask a wrestler who never made it as a major star to referee his final match, to the post-match ceremony at his retirement show where ECW owner Heyman declares Funk the ECW World Heavyweight Champion for Life.

The show also touches on other major names in the business at the time, but doesn't focus on them like Foley, Funk and Roberts. There are brief segments on Jerome Young (better known as New Jack), Joanie Laurer (better known as Chyna) and a few others. There are also interviews with other major, and not so major names, the weirdest having to be with Matt Hyson (known as Spike Dudley). Hyson was a wrestler with ECW, which was known for violent, bloody matches. We learn that Hyson's previous job was a third grade teacher, and he was an English major who loves Shakespeare. As he is bleeding from the forehead, thanks to an injury sustained in the ring prior to the interview, the movie's producer asks him to recite his favorite line from Shakespeare. Hyson then recites a line from memory -- as blood pours down over his face.

The most uncomfortable, and saddest segment features 1980's star Jake "The Snake" Roberts. Robets had hit rock bottom at the time this documentary was filmed. He has become addicted to crack cocaine, and is shown smoking the drug shortly after meeting up with his estranged daughter in an uncomfortable reunion. He has had a hard life. A result of rape of his then 13-year old mother, who has a strained relationship with his father, a well-known wrestler who never reached the height of fame Jake did. Years later, in a WWE-produced DVD retrospective on his career, Roberts blasted how he was depicted in this film, to the point of bad mouthing the producer and Terry Funk.

What this movie does not address is the "wrestling is fake" debate. That is mostly because it show's what pro wrestling is -- entertainment that takes a toll on the bodies and lives of those in the ring. After seeing Foley, and Mr. McMahon (Vince McMahon's stage name) being stitched up after a show, you may reconsider how "fake" wrestling is.

The only downside of this film is that wrestling fans are the only ones most likely to buy or rent this movie. However, I suggest that people who do not watch wrestling (especially the ones who say "wrestling is fake") view this movie if you ever come across it on television along with the documentaries "Hitman Hart: Wrestling with Shadows" (which puts Vince McMahon in an even worse light than "Beyond the Mat") and the television documentary "The Unreal Story of Professional Wrestling" (A&E still airs it from time to time) to better understand the true nature of the business.
½ March 6, 2013
This shows just what it takes to be a professional wrestler, and what they go through to entertain the fans.
February 17, 2013
A must see for anyone that has ever loved pro wrestling. You celebrate with those on top and sympathize with those who have fallen far, far from grace.
½ February 16, 2013
Relatively interesting, but I find pro wrestling really pointless.
January 12, 2013
Filmmaker Blaustein takes an inimate and first hand look at every aspect of professional wrestling, from its glamorous side, to its down and dirty side exploring the highs and lows and painful depths of the business, by telling the stories of some of the most known wrestlers of all time, Mick Foley, The Rock, Jake 'The Snake' Roberts, Terry Funk and Jesse Ventura. A must watch for fans of the genre, for a rare glimpse at what you don't usually see.
December 14, 2012
I kinda dug WWF and other renegade wrestling outfits when I was a kid, no doubt about it....wasn't a true die-hard fan but I do have fond memories of Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant, Randy "Macho Man" Savage, Jake "The Snake" Roberts and many other superstars of the 1980s and 90s. This documentary is far more engaging than I thought it would be, but then again it falls far short of what I truly wanted to experience for a "behind-the-scenes" take on big-time "fake" wrestling. The interviews and exposures to violence are what pull you in, but the fact that there are about four different storylines (could be up to eight or more in this HUMONGOUS industry that involves ALL types of human beings trying to make some scratch)...these stories never really gel together because the director is far too much of a fan of this type of "sport" (i.e., entertainment). It's a great time capsule of a bygone era that both typifies the human experience and also shows how wrestling became so big. Too much focus on one wrestler (Terry Funk) of who I never knew at all before this doc was a distraction but fascinating look into a man who refuses to retire from such a violent "sport" despite all his injuries and the fact that he's 53 years old. Jake the Snake has a few interesting moments of a once superstar who now smokes crack and cannot connect with his family. Mankind (aka, Mick Foley) is also featured here prominently as a wrestler willing to have his head bashed in and also to fall from great heights above the ring to the possible and very real detriment to his health/life while also examining his tying together a life with a wife and two young and impressionable kids. Too bad it's a disjointed look, but it's also very engaging for anyone even remotely interested in this topic.
½ December 13, 2012
Provides a good look at the behind the scenes world of proffesional wrestling.
½ December 11, 2012
Next to " Wrestling with Shadows" this is best pro wrestling documentary that I have seen. It 's pretty emotional at times, from the scenes with Mick Foley, to Terry Funk and the disturbing story of Jake Roberts, you get to see a glimpse of what pro wrestlers go through behind the scenes, it's no wonder nowadays, a lot of them drop dead like flies.

This wasn't produced or censored by any wrestling company, so the truth comes out. Watch it even if you don't like wrestling. I used to watch it when I was younger and I learned a couple of things here and here. Overall its a well made documentary
December 7, 2012
Will have to watch this one. Not necassarily good or bad. Will see. Want to watch!
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