The professional wrestling business sells fans on the illusion of their bigger-than-life characters.
Before the days of the internet, we believed these people were the characters they portrayed in the ring.
Viceland’s “Dark Side of Ring” pulls back the curtain and gets in-depth on some of the biggest stars and mysterious scandals in the business.
Here’s an honest look at all six episodes.
Episode 1: “The Match Made In Heaven”
Randy “Macho Man” Savage and Miss Elizabeth were one of the most well-known love affairs in pro-wrestling history.
We saw the beauty of their relationship on-camera, but we also saw the turmoil.
We didn’t know at the time, but these same events would be a reflection of their personal lives.
Randy’s paranoia and intense characteristics, along with Elizabeth’s more docile personality, made them a perfect couple.
Drugs, infidelity, and tension would be a catalyst that drove these two apart, then brings them back together, then repeat.
Unfortunately for both, their lives ending prematurely and tragically.
I enjoyed this episode. Before the days of the internet, we never got a glimpse of these character’s lives outside of the ring.
Art intimated life with Randy and Elizabeth.
This episode tells their story from the people who knew them, including Randy’s brother, Lanny Poffo, and Linda Hogan.
You really get a feel for the love they had for each other and how they were co-dependent on each other.
Episode 2: “The Montreal Screwjob”
The Montreal Screwjob is one of the most controversial events in pro-wrestling history, and it forever changed the landscape of the business.
The episode highlights the real-life tension between Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart, both that you saw on TV and what was happening off it.
Both men give accounts on the setup of the match, the meetings about the match, who knew what was going to happen, and who didn’t.
The stories are drastically different.
The episode also highlights the ensuring fallout from the incident and how it exposed in the inner workings of the wrestling business.
The Montreal Screwjob pulled the back the curtains on the illusion of what is known in the industry as “kayfabe.”
One of the best parts of this episode are the lovely words former WWF writers Jim Cornette and Vince Russo have for each other. I wonder if they send each Christmas cards?
This was by far the best episode of the series. Not only because this incident is one of the most well-known events in pro wrestling history, but also because you have one of the people directly involved, Bret Hart to give you the account of what went down.
Although some of the stories about who knew, and who didn’t, and what transpired are different, you’re enthralled with stories.
Episode 3: “The Killing of Bruiser Brody”
Brody was big, brash and brutal, and unfortunately, the ladder was how his life ended. This episode is narrated by Mick Foley.
Known as “the hardcore legend,” he begins by talking about how Brody influenced him as a wrestler.
This episode looks at the character of Bruiser Brody, who had a thirst for blood and brutality, but also the man, Frank Goodish. Out of all the characters talked about in this docu-series, this shows the most significant difference between the person and the TV character.
Some of his biggest adversaries, including WWE Hall of Famer Tony Atlas, talk about Brody as a person, a wrestler and give the events leading up to his murder.
They showed the magnitude of Brody’s fame at the time, the motive and set up that would lead to José Huertas Gonzalez allegedly murdering Brody in the locker before a match in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The account from Tony Atlas captivates from the beginning because of immense passion and his first-person account of what really went down that day in San Juan.
From him following Brody to the hospital to him coming back from the locker room and events after.
The episode is enjoyable but somber.
Episode 4: “The Last of The Von Erichs”
The Von Erichs were one of the most renown families of wrestling. The clan had the reputation of being God-fearing, wholesome All-Americans boys.
This episode shows the impact the family had on the state of Texas and the wrestling industry in itself, and when tragedy would strike, it was covered as breaking news on Texas television.
Even through repeated tragedies, the family tried to keep the name prominent in pro wrestling.
The last remaining brother, Kevin Von Erich, talks about the permanent effects of losing his brothers had on himself and his family.
The Von Erichs, even if you’re a younger wrestling fan, you know about it because of the long history and legacy they left in the business.
I was enthralled with watching how the Von Erichs had this facade as wrestling royalty, but when they peel back the layers, it reveals the demons that haunted every deceased brother.
Episode 5: “The Mysterious Death of Gorgeous Gino”
Gino Hernandez was a good looking, charismatic heel, who’s on-camera life spilled over into his real life. The drug-fueled, party, playboy lifestyle engulfed his life, and would suspiciously end it.
Gino was found dead in his home, and the mystery remains to this day on whether it was an overdose or murder.
Some claim he overdosed, he was murdered, even a few think he faked his death because of an alleged gambling debt.
After all this, the episode ends with an anonymous person’s story presented to Gino’s mother.
This episode did not pull me in. There are many theories on Gino’s death shared in this episode, but there is little validity to each.
Episode 6: “The Fabulous Moolah”
The Fabulous Moolah is one of the most legendary female wrestlers of all time.
This episode talks about her early history in the wrestling business and later her resurgence with the WWE in the late ’90s.
It also gives you her history in the business; how she helped women’s wrestling, and how her selfish ways regressed women’s wrestling.
We hear from wrestlers that worked for her under her promotion. They spoke of the mistreatment working under Moolah and her husband Buddy Lee; including not paying them, pimping them out to men, and forcing them to perform injured.
One person, in particular, we hear from is Wendi Richter. She talks about her feud with Moolah and what led to what is known as “The Original Screwjob.”
After Richter defeated Moolah at WWF’s “The Brawl To End It All” for the women’s title, Moolah would later dress as The Spider Lady and face Richter.
After pining Richter, the referee would make quick three-count and would regain the title. Richter would quit the WWF on the spot.
This was a good episode. Moolah is one of the most well-known female wrestlers of all-time. The older generation knows her from her early career, while the younger generation remembers her from her time in the WWE.
Like the Gino Hernandez episode, we never get the real, concrete story of Moolah. Some people say all the allegations made about Moolah are untrue.
Overall, if you’re a wrestler fan, every episode in this docu-series is must watch. Even if you don’t know about each of the subjects talked about, their stories are captivating.
The history of pro-wrestling isn’t always glamorous, and this series shows that in great detail. You will be satisfied with what you watched and wanting more.
Hopefully with the success of the first season, a second is on the horizon
John “Supi” Supowitz is graduate from Quinnipiac University with a Masters in Sports Journalism. He is also currently a part of the Game Day Production Staff for a minor league baseball team. If you want to pique his interest, bring up the Yankees, pro-wrestling, or King of The Hill. You can follow him on Twitter @Imthatsupi85 and Instagram @Imthatsupi.