For 10 years, from 1999 to 2008, Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW) in Louisville, Kentucky was the home of the best up-and-coming wrestlers.
It was the training grounds for WWE stars like John Cena, CM Punk, Randy Orton, Brock Lesnar, Batista, Kofi Kingston, Dolph Ziggler, Shelton Benjamin, The Miz, Maryse Mizanin, Natalya, Mickie James, and Beth Phoenix.
Founded in 1993 by “Nightmare” Danny Davis, OVW was eventually purchased, in part, by legendary wrestling manager Jim Cornette in 1999. He later sold his share back to Davis in 2007 before Davis sold the entire thing to former pro wrestler Al Snow in 2018.
In 2007, however, WWE launched Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW), which would eventually morph into NXT, and take over as WWE’s development territory from OVW.
Now owned by Matt Jones of Kentucky Sports Radio and Craig Greenberg of 21c Museum Hotels, Ohio Valley Wrestling is still run by Al Snow, but the glory days are long behind the organization.
On September 13, Netflix will debut a new documentary about Ohio Valley Wrestling titled, simply, Wrestlers.
“Ohio Valley Wrestling in Louisville, Kentucky was once a proud finishing school for young wrestlers who hoped for a chance at a career in big time pro wrestling but times have changed,” reads the documentary’s description. “With new owners in the picture, once-famous pro wrestler Al Snow has been given the summer to turn OVW’s dire financial situation around. Wrestlers tells the story of a handful of eccentric misfits who attempt to come together to help Al save this historic gym while achieving their own wild dreams of wrestling professionally.”
Wrestlers is being helmed by director and executive producer Greg Whiteley, the creator of Cheer and Last Chance U .
“Before filming Wrestlers, our cinematographer had recently invested in a set of vintage Minolta Prime lenses from the early ‘80s,” Whiteley told Variety. “We loved their cinematic look and figured the aesthetics of the Minolta would be appropriate for the garish acts inside the ring. But moving to these lenses made the job of our camera operators much more difficult. If they wanted a close-up, they had to physically approach the subject. Our fear was that the wrestlers might begin to edit themselves in more sensitive moments — but that’s not what happened. Ironically, filming this group of fake wrestlers is perhaps the most uncompromisingly real thing we’ve ever filmed. It was as if this little gym tucked away in Kentucky and the vintage Minolta lenses were trapped in the same era — working together to not be forgotten.”
Ryan O’Dowd (Murder Among the Mormons), the executive vice president of entertainment & music for BBC Studios Los Angeles Productions, also serves as an executive producer.
Many longtime fans of wrestling (as well as several OVW stars) are very excited to see Ohio Valley Wrestling featured on Netflix.
Can’t wait for everyone to check out all of our hard work 🙌🏼
— Freya the Slaya (@freya_the_slaya) August 21, 2023
“We have to thank OVW for creating so many stars throughout. Levithian vs. Cena was crazy back in 2000,” read another tweet.
Netflix on fire with all the original content they’ve been dropping lately
— Mike F (@Fish7718) August 21, 2023
“Man… that looks so awesome (and I’m not even a wrestling guy),” someone else commented. “It shows you that the biggest difference between something like OVW and WWE is…they have a lot of money. Because with their (Netflix) money they make OVW look like WWE.”
If this is anything like Last Chance U, it's gonna be great to see who it helps turn into a bigger star based on their personality breaking through on camera. My guess is @Miss_LeilaGrey and @tiffanynieves_
— Tighe Andrew Shaffer (@tigheshaffer) August 21, 2023
Wrestlers debuts on September 13th, 2023 at 3:00 AM EDT.