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wiping the mat

Beyond the Mat

Beyond the Mat is a 1999 professional wrestling documentary, directed by Barry W. Blaustein. World Wrestling Entertainment chairman Vince McMahon tried to block its release after deciding that the film reflected badly on him and the WWF (hence the tag line, "The Movie Vince McMahon DOESN'T Want You to See!"). Three editions of the film were released to video, including a "special edition" and a "ringside special edition," each of which had different extras and slightly different footage.

Plot

Director Barry Blaustein decides to travel the United States over a three year period, endeavoring to understand the mindset of someone who would voluntarily choose to become a professional wrestler. Blaustein interviews a wide variety of wrestling personalities and ascertains their motivations.

Blaustein focuses on three famous wrestlers, one at the height of his career (Mick "Mankind" Foley) and two contemplating retirement (Terry Funk and Jake "The Snake" Roberts). Foley has been taking increasingly risky falls (or "bumps") and blows to the head, and at one point is heard talking incoherently as the result of a fall which briefly rendered him unconscious. Later in the film, in a scene from the 1999 Royal Rumble, he is shown taking multiple shots to the head by The Rock with a steel folding chair, while his wife and young children watch in horror from the audience. Funk is a 54-year-old man in need of knee surgery who appears unable to retire, despite the mounting toll wrestling is taking on his body. Roberts is a wrestler who enjoyed tremendous popularity in the 1980s, but who is now a crack cocaine addict, estranged from both his father and his daughter.

The careers of the three successful wrestlers are contrasted with those of wrestlers who have not yet achieved comparable success. Darren Drozdov is a former NFL football player who is shown in an interview with Vince McMahon. After discovering that Drozdov can vomit at will, McMahon renames him "Puke", and, controversially, instructs him to vomit in a bucket as a demonstration of his ability. Drozdov becomes a WWF wrestler, but at the end of the film Blaustein reveals that Droz was paralyzed in an in-ring accident from a botched move, several months later.

Main cast

Ringside Special Edition

The 2004 DVD re-release of the documentary features a new introduction scene, depicting Blaustein's younger years of watching professional wrestling and seeing a heel wrestler drive home with his family. Also included are interviews by former WWF wrestlers Al Snow, Justin Credible and Afa the Wild Samoan, which contrast the interviews by McMahon, Ross and other WWF executives. A scene where Foley and his family meet up with The Rock backstage after their Royal Rumble match is added as well.

In addition, the DVD features an exclusive dinner interview with Foley and ex-wrestler and former Governor of Minnesota Jesse Ventura.

In contrast to the original DVD release (which used look-a-likes of Foley and The Rock due to legal problems at the time of release), the Ringside Special Edition uses Foley and The Rock's actual faces on the cover.

Response

On a World Wrestling Entertainment-produced DVD released in late 2005/early 2006 entitled Jake The Snake Roberts: Pick Your Poison, Jake Roberts, along with others, heavily criticized the film for showing him in a negative light, contending that the depiction of him was "not the real Jake Roberts". Roberts also claimed that director Barry Blaustein and Terry Funk lied to him about the aims of the film, telling him it was a television special on the effects of drug and alcohol abuse.

Influence

Film director David Sinnott stated that Beyond the Mat was a strong influence on him in producing a wrestling documentary of his own, Bloodstained Memoirs. Both films feature Mick Foley in a starring role.

See also

External links

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