Saturday, May 29, 2010

Body Slam! Want to Be a Professional Wrestler?
Director: Dennis Lofgren
Distributor: TLC (The Learning Channel)
Released: 6/01
Featured Talent 
Pamela Adams, Rick Bassman, Paul Bearer, Chris Daniels, John Heidenreich, Mike Henderson, Mikey Henderson, Tom Howard, Andrew Johnson, Nathan Jones, Deron "Malibu" McBee, Drzan McBee, Marty Rubalcaba, Test

The Good
This documentary focuses on Ultimate Pro-Wrestling (UPW), which was the WWF's West Coast developmental territory for a time. Although they had a respectable setup, UPW was very limited and that is perhaps why none of its stars never left for superstardom without a stop over somewhere else. This does feature a handful of WWF and TNA "stars"-to-be, most notably Samoa Joe and Nathan Jones. The focal points are four workers: Christopher Daniels, John Heidenreich, Mikey Henderson and Drzan McBee, whose success is about in that order. Daniels' story is interesting and for years people were rooting for him and he's probably reached the peak of his career. John Heidenreich was touted as a can't-miss from this period, but one can see the issues already present in his life. He has repeated setbacks from wrecking his car to breaking his hand, but gets a developmental deal in the end. Mikey Henderson's hardships are standard for undersized workers, but they pull in some material from his personal life that add a different twist. Drzan McBee's story is distinct due to her gender, faith and husband (American Gladiator Malibu). Overall, this seems like an honest depiction of how difficult it is to break into the pro-wrestling business. However, the landscape is much different than it was here, so the ladder is even higher to the top.

The Bad
One could definitely knock this as a run-of-the-mill documentary about pro-wrestling that is simply to ride the wave of popularity of that time. At the time, it was good, but every channel had some feature on pro-wrestling from A&E to MTV, but few were exceptional. This touched upon the big time, independent and even backyard wrestling. The latter part was as worthless as backyard wrestling itself. The overall feel of this is and was positive, however one could certainly be saddened thinking about how far pro-wrestling has fallen, how the WWF/WWE developmental system has shriveled up and how the independent scene is so depleted.

The Rating: ***1/4


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