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Like a lot of people, I went through a pro wrestling phase. From the mid-1980s up into the early ‘90s, I watched and enjoyed the sports entertainment stylings of WWF and WCW titans. After that, my direct attention tapered off, but my indirect awareness of the sport never really went away – I had friends who remained engaged and my general pop culture consumption meant that I was always at least tangentially up on the scene.

My affection for pro wrestling remained, though it did evolve over time, eventually morphing into an appreciation of it as one of the last true bastions of American melodrama (alongside the soap opera) as well as a repository for physically impressive feats of undeniable athleticism.

Too often, the personal stories of these wrestlers devolve into sadness and/or mayhem – there’s a whole cottage industry of documentary reckonings with the behind-the-scenes tragedies that accompanied the successes of some of wrestling’s most iconic figures.

Jeremy Norrie’s new documentary “The Other Side of the Ring” is different. This film isn’t about digging into the bleak seediness beneath the over-the-top glitz; instead, it’s about spending time with wrestlers from varying levels and discussing how they got here and why they’ve stayed.

Oh, and they’re all women.

Norrie sits down with a handful of women who have invested their blood, sweat and tears into the wrestling world. They come from all levels of the sport, from the top of the mountain that is WWE to the down-and-dirty indie scene, but the one thing they all share is a passion for the sport that they love – a passion that is brought forward through a collection of interviews.

Now, there’s not as much actual in-ring action as you might expect for a wrestling documentary – the realities of filming during COVID meant that Norrie was forced to largely rely on preexisting footage and some of the promotions that his interviewees worked with didn’t necessarily have a lot in the way of video. While this lack does undercut the film’s effectiveness somewhat, there’s no denying the compelling nature of the stories these women tell.

Published in Sports

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