Throughout my independent wrestling career, I’ve had the privilege and honour of sharing the ring and locker room with a number of wrestling legends. There aren’t a lot of people out there that can say they’ve shared the same working space as ‘The Million Dollar Man’ Ted Dibiase, Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts, The Honky Tonk Man, Greg ‘The Hammer’ Valentine, Koko B. Ware, ‘The Ugandan Giant’ Kamala, Road Warrior Animal, Ax and Smash of the Demolition, and countless others. I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to live a childhood dream, and I’m forever thankful for the opportunities that have been given to me.
A number of weeks ago, I came across a “Suggested Post” on Facebook, advertising “The Old Boys” – a documentary featuring a look at a number of wrestling legends including all of the above named, and several others. I think it goes without saying that the best part of sharing a locker room with these legends are the revealing ‘behind the scenes’ look they give while telling stories of their time spent in the World Wrestling Federation, World Championship Wrestling, the American Wrestling Association, the National Wrestling Alliance, and any number of other major landing points in their career. Needless to say, I was intrigued. After watching the trailer provided in the Facebook link, it was an easy decision; I was going to check this documentary out the day it was released.
The movie opens with a funny story, as told by WWE Hall of Famer Koko B. Ware during what appears to be a convention with several legends speaking. Koko continues with this particular story, concerning a drug test conducted by Vince McMahon in the early 1980’s. The Iron Sheik is singled out by Vince McMahon as testing ‘positive’ for cocaine use. Iron Sheik is elated by the news, thanking Vince McMahon, before continuing on with his work out. Later in the day, Vince had to take Sheik aside to explain that in this case ‘positive’ was actually a bad thing, and ‘negative’ was a good thing. The legends roar as they recall being there, and Sheik explains that due to his language barrier, he honestly believed being positive for cocaine was a good thing. This set an excellent pace for the remainder of the documentary.
As mentioned above, a large number of wrestling legends are spoken to during this documentary, both in one-on-one sit-down style interviews, as well as filming of conventions and backstage interactions. However, it’s not just “Old Boys” featured, as more recent superstars, such as Billy Gunn, Road Dogg Jesse James, “Hardcore” Bob Holly and Scott Hall are also featured with comments.
Largely, this documentary looks at the struggles of being a wrestling superstar, but remains light-hearted in nature when looking back at funny road stories. Paul Roma, in particular, sticks out at being delusional in his own success and fame, where most other legends stay humble.
The only disappointment I had was in The Honky Tonk Man, who in his sit-down interview accompanied by WWE legend Marty Jannetty, appeared to be severely intoxicated and barely conscious. I’m not sure if this is on the documentary producers, or Honky Tonk Man himself, but his comments could have easily been left out without compromising what was an excellent piece on the legends of professional wrestling.
Being an independently produced documentary, it does suffer from some of the productions flaws that these things usually do. When using clips from convention appearances, the speakers audio can be muffled or echo-y, and video quality suffers. However, largely, the production values are top notch. The audio remains level through-out, without any noticeable drop offs or spikes during the convention footage, but there is a notable drop in video quality, as could be expected.
Perhaps where this documentary is at its best is that it is not a WWE-produced feature. Often, WWE would spend an awful lot of time sterilizing a feature like this before releasing it. In this case, The Old Boys comes off feeling like a real piece, in conversation, much like Beyond the Mat years ago. Its charm is in that what you hear from the legends featured feels real, without fear of reprimand from the big man in the glass building in Stanford, Connecticut.
The Old Boys is available both on-demand, or on DVD. I chose on-demand consumption, as I was eager to see the documentary as soon as it was released, and didn’t want to wait for a DVD to arrive. At first, I attempted to stream it via my PS3 onto my big screen TV, and encountered an issue with the website plug-in used to stream the video. Upon switching to my laptop, connected to my television via an HDMI cable, no further streaming issues were encountered. The video/audio stream were excellent, with no noticeable pixelation, lag, or reduction in quality. There are a number of different “subscription” options, as well, including a 1-day viewing, 5-day (which is what I chose), 1 month, or 1 year. Unfortunately, in choosing the 5-day subscription, and writing this 7 days after watching, I can’t go back to take screenshots of the video, or give an exact running length. We’ll chalk that up to having 3 kids, and procrastination on my part.
This documentary gets a very high recommendation; both my wife and I were thoroughly entertained through-out. The Old Boys is an excellent look at professional wrestling, as told by the legends who paved the road for us to be where we are today. I could watch a documentary like this all day long, and never become bored by the stories told. Simply fascinating.
You can check out The Old Boys today at http://theoldboysmovie.com/ where you can purchase the video-on-demand version, or DVD delivered to your door.