The documentary filmmaker Greg Whiteley, known for his Netflix hits “Cheer” and “Last Chance U,” has once again turned his lens towards the underdogs. In his latest effort, “Wrestlers,” Whiteley explores the world of Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW), a small and scrappy wrestling organization based in Louisville, Kentucky. Despite lacking the scale and financial might of industry giants like World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) or All Elite Wrestling, OVW has its own unique prestige. Legendary wrestlers like John Cena and Dave Bautista started their careers at OVW, building their skills and athleticism under the mentorship of Al Snow, a former wrestler and OVW’s longtime proprietor.
“Wrestlers” showcases OVW as a compelling mix of scripted combat and physical storytelling. Whiteley introduces the audience to a rich ensemble of personalities within OVW, each with their own complex backstories and motivations. The show delves into the blurred line between reality and fiction in wrestling, with characters like HollyHood Haley J and her mother Maria adding layers of personal drama to their in-ring performances.
While the series introduces viewers to the conventions and terminology of wrestling, it quickly immerses them in the action, rendering expert witnesses unnecessary. The focus remains on the talent and their journey within OVW as they navigate the challenges of the industry.
Unlike other sports-focused documentaries, “Wrestlers” portrays OVW itself as the underdog, striving to survive in a system of larger, more financially powerful promotions. Throughout the season, Al Snow, Matt Jones, and Craig Greenberg grapple with how to boost attendance and revenue to make OVW a sustainable enterprise.
All seven episodes of “Wrestlers” are now available for streaming on Netflix, offering an intimate and captivating look into the world of OVW and the passionate individuals who dedicate their lives to the art of wrestling.
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– Definitions: OVW – Ohio Valley Wrestling, WWE – World Wrestling Entertainment