When you grow up watching Hulk Hogan's Rock N Wrestling on Saturday mornings it's difficult to think of professional wrestlers as anything but entertainers. By that I mean that these are folks who put on a show, albeit a high energy, physically demanding show but a show none the less. For years I would watch and enjoy the WWF. I would root for the good guys, hate the heels and yell at the TV. As I grew older wrestling and I parted ways for years after a small stint where I joined the school wrestling team and then found my pass time absorbed completely with listening to and playing music and watching Horror flicks.
In recent years, I came back to wrestling and enjoy it more now than when I was a kid. With this return I found that the common conception of wrestling as a fake sport is simply not true. The notion of wrestlers being solely characters for my amusement changed. I knew them to be people with stories. I suppose technology allows us the window into the personal lives of once mysterious figures in the public eye. We know about every arrest. We know the family history. We are the best educated wrestling fans ever which brings me to a documentary I had the chance to enjoy recently. The Sheik is out now from Dark Sky Films, and it turns a heel, an entertainer into a man... a great man with heart and passion.
The Sheik starts off my giving you an extensive back story into the man who became the Iron Sheik in the WWF. You learn about his rise to fame in Iran, his escape from Iran and his rise to to fame in the US after starting off humbly as a wrestling coach. Through all of this you learn of his attention to personal goals and freight train like drive. He's a man who seeks perfection in all things and filled with the biggest heart. You might imagine how shocked I was to see the real side of a man who would play opposite Hulkamania in the 80's. I mean this guy was married, had kids, lost a daughter tragically and almost lost himself. This is not the feel good story that will have you cheering for his victory at the end of a match. It has moments that brought me close to tears and through those tears, I almost found it hard to laugh as the modern day, foul-mouthed Twitter personality after watching it. Of course the minute he told Monday to "fuck off" I snapped out of it.
What you might think will be documentary about a wrestler is really a documentary about a man who happened to chose a sport as his profession. By comparison, I recently watched the Macho Man documentary released by WWE, and while it certainly focused on outside the ring activity, it also found time to give plenty of the in ring story as well. The Sheik is mostly one sided. It has no extras. It isn't a disc filled with match after match, featuring the The Iron Sheik's best of reel. In short, it cuts out the story you know by being a fan and gives you a biography and a story of new beginnings.
You can get the full story by watching this new release from Dark Sky, but take my advice and be ready for a story that may require a drink or two. It's pulls at your heart strings much in the way that you might find the recent release of the Thor documentary or even the fictitious movie, The Wrestler.
I absolutely enjoyed it, strongly recommend it and hope we get more of the same for other favorites from the font of wrestling pop era.
You can order The Iron Sheik now. ORDER HERE.
From Dark Sky Films:
Khosrow Ali Vaziri was born in Iran in 1942, establishing a name for himself as an amateur wrestler, a bodyguard for the Shah of Iran, and an athlete representing his home country in the 1968 Summer Olympics. In the early 1970s, following the unexpected and controversial death of his good friend and Olympic wrestling gold medalist Gholamreza Takhti, Vaziri left Iran to pursue the American Dream. His journey to the United States began one of the most spectacular professional wrestling careers in modern history.
Assuming the persona of the villainous The Iron Sheik, Vaziri became one of the most celebrated and hated men in sports entertainment, helping launch Hulkamania in the 1980s and weathering a career that saw him turn the wrestling world upside down throughout the '80s and '90s. A fall from sobriety after the murder of one of his daughters brought the Sheik to the lowest and most challenging point in his life. Now in his 70s, the Sheik has embraced an unlikely new persona as an outlandish social media sensation, known for hilarious outbursts and massively popular antics.
Featuring candid interviews with Vaziri's family, historians and over 25 wrestling superstars,
THE SHEIK is a pop culture documentary that chronicles this determined survivor's electrifying career from his upbringing in Iran to his journey to the U.S. and his unprecedented experiences as America's most hated villain.
The film features interviews with celebrities and wrestling superstars including Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Hulk Hogan, Jack Black, Seth Green, Mick Foley, Bret Hart, Jake "The Snake" Roberts, Hacksaw Jim Duggan and many more.