Wrestling is full of so many unbelievable, crazy, inspiring, and at times tragic tales and life stories, so documentaries about sports entertainment were bound to be made. From the infamous Beyond the Mat to Wrestling with Shadows, there’s been so many incredible wrestling documentaries over the years, but despite more and more being made as the years go by, there are still hundreds of stories yet to be documented for us all to see. But which wrestlers are most deserving of having their lives and careers recorded for our entertainment? Here are the Top 10 Wrestlers Who Deserve Their Own Documentaries.
- AJ Styles
Let’s face it, the way things are going for The Phenomenal One, this one is only a matter of time. In just a year and a half, AJ has become one of the most popular men in WWE, had arguably the best match at this year’s Wrestlemania, had a series of incredible matches, won the United States Championship, and the biggest prize of them all, the WWE Championship. But away from WWE, AJ had fifteen years of success travelling the world. Now WWE seem almost proud to boast about their employees’ achievements in Japan, and they are no longer terrified of uttering the letters TNA on their programming, it looks likely that a Styles documentary produced by his current employees would go into plenty of detail with his ventures away from the company. Just look at the relatively new Kevin Owens documentary, which took a thorough look at his time in ROH. If WWE is willing to examine every detail of his career, and not just the time he’s spent under their umbrella, then an AJ Styles documentary could be phenomenal.
- The New Day
3 men. 3 stories. A huge amount of success. Learn about Kofi’s 10 plus year tenure in the company, Xavier Woods’ time before WWE, his PHD and struggles once reaching the main roster, and Big E’s powerlifting career. These three men went from being underutilised, to a bad preacher gimmick that was going nowhere, to being a ridiculously entertaining team that held the tag team titles longer than anyone else. They’ve each got an interesting separate story to tell before they aligned forces, and a history-making journey to take us through once they did come together. These three men are deserving of a WWE Network special that certainly won’t be booty.
- The Miz
Mike Mizanin never should have made it big, but despite everything being against him, he really did. He went from minor reality star to WWE superstar within a matter of years, but that doesn’t mean it was an easy ride. The Miz was hated both by fans and by the boys in the back. It’s well documented that he was once thrown out and banned from the locker room for a period of months, being forced to change in arena toilets. On a recent episode of Bring it to the Table, JBL stated that out of all the men who ever got banned from the locker room, The Miz is the only one who would go on to be successful in the company. Eventually through hard work, he earned respect and success, as he would go on to become WWE Champion. From his time on The Real World, to his difficult start in WWE, to main-eventing Wrestlemania but not being able to remember a second of it because of a concussion he suffered, and now to being almost universally acclaimed for his work in the past year and a half, The Miz has plenty to talk about, and a feature-length special episode of Miz TV on the WWE Network would be the perfect place to tell his story.
Like most, I never really gave too much thought about R-Truth or his past before coming to WWE, but once I listened to his appearance on the Talk is Jericho podcast, I became obsessed with how fascinating his life story is. Ron Killings (possibly the coolest last name ever) was born in Atlanta in 1972. From an early age, Killings sold cannabis alongside his father in order to provide for their family. As he developed, it became obvious that Killings was a highly gifted athlete, receiving various college scholarships for multiple sports, yet despite these chances to leave his life of crime behind, Killings decided to drop out of school when he was 16, in order to pursue a career in music. By this age, Killings had already met Tupac Shakur and Eazy-E, and became an opening act for performers such as MC Lyte and 3rd Bass. Despite his success, during this time, Killings continued to sell drugs in order to fund his music, and was arrested and incarcerated for 13 months. After leaving prison, NWA employee Jackie Crockett met Killings in a halfway house and tried to convince him to start wrestling, however Ron was still determined to make his musical dreams come true. After another two years of trying to become successful, this time funding his ambitions by robbing drug dealers, Killings finally tried his hands at wrestling.
After just two years in the business, Killings was signed to WWF. He would go on to win the Hardcore Championship twice, have a lengthy run in TNA, become the first officially recognised African-American NWA World Heavyweight Champion, beat Kurt Angle and Sting to win the TNA World Tag Team Championships with active NFL Player Adam Jones, main-evented WWE pay-per-views, released two albums, held WWE United States and Tag Team gold, and made a very special friend in Lil’ Jimmy. R-Truth’s story is truly inspirational and absolutely fascinating, and a WWE Network special on this company veteran would be fantastic to see.
- Bobo Brazil
Bobo Brazil debuted in 1951, a time when racial segregation still existed in the United States. Due to his race, Brazil was initially limited to black-only matches in Southern promotions, but it quickly became obvious that the colour of his skin wasn’t going to hold him back. Brazil quickly became one of the most popular wrestlers in the South. Fans regardless of their race or prejudices couldn’t help but cheer for Brazil and his emphatic in-ring antics, and because of this he is credited with breaking down the barriers of racial segregation in wrestling. In 1962, Brazil became the first African-American to capture a heavyweight belt when he beat Buddy Rogers for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. Unfortunately, due to some kayfabe technicalities, this reign isn’t officially recognised (although most believe it’s because some NWA officials weren’t comfortable with having Brazil in their record books). It would sadly be another 30 years before Ron Simmons would become the first officially recognised black heavyweight champion. Despite his lack of championship recognition, Brazil would still go on to have staggering success, capturing the WWWF United States Championship seven times, and became a WWE Hall of Famer in 1994. Having experienced the troubles and hardships of racial segregation, as well as overcoming those barriers in such tremendously successful fashion, Bobo Brazil had an inspirational life story that deserves to be told to the world.
Dustin Runnels has had such a unique career. Son of the late, great Dusty Rhodes, Runnels wrestled in WCW in its heyday and its not so great days, had two stints in All Japan Pro Wrestling as well as TNA, and been a part of every WWE generation since 1990. Dustin has experienced the highs and the bitter lows, he’s received prejudice and hate when portraying possibly the most controversial WWE character of the 1990s, whilst also experiencing great success and longevity with the exact same gimmick. Being the son of such a legendary, beloved hall of famer is definitely going to provide you with plenty of stories to tell, but combined that with three decades in the business filled with memorable moments, Goldust has one of the most unique experiences in all of wrestling., 30 years after his debut, Runnels is still going strong in the biggest company of them all, and it’s about time they let him tell his story.
- John Cena
Back in 2007, WWE released John Cena: My Life, a relatively short documentary that looked at the reasonably short career at the time of the former world champion. It provided little detail and featured no words from the man himself. Since that was released, Cena has won the Royal Rumble twice, main-evented various Wrestlemanias, became a crossover mainstream television and film star, performed in the only WWE match rated 5-stars by Dave Meltzer in the 21st century, tied Ric Flair’s world championship record, and had the longest main-event run in the modern era. John Cena has accomplished so much in the last fifteen years, and managed to constantly stay at the top of the mountain for well-over twelve of those fifteen years. He became the global face of WWE, whilst simultaneously establishing his own mark in the pop culture world through his unbelievable work ethic. So many years under such a bright spotlight makes for a fascinating story that deserves to be documented properly sooner rather than later.
3. Terry Funk
Ric Flair and Terry Funk once had drinks together, and it ended with Flair’s ex-wife coming home with her friend to find her then husband passed out, laid in a pool of his own vomit, whilst Funk, who was NWA World Champion at the time, was running around completely naked with a bowie knife between his teeth, trying to hunt Flair’s dog. Flair’s wife responded simply by saying, “That’s my husband in a pool of vomit and the naked man in the backyard trying to kill our dog is the world champion.”
If that one paragraph alone doesn’t make you want to watch a Terry Funk documentary immediately, I don’t know what will.
Terry Funk has won world championships, competed in some of the most infamous hardcore deathmatches in history, recorded his own album in Japan, got kicked in the head by a horse during a match, starred in infamous wrestling documentary Beyond the Mat, and built-up a reputation as one of the craziest men in professional wrestling along the way. The fact a feature-length documentary solely about the insane life of The Funker hasn’t been made yet is truly baffling.
- Bruno Sammartino
The life story of Bruno Sammartino is worthy of an epic Hollywood movie. How one man could experience so many hardships, and then change their life in such a drastic way is almost unbelievable. Born in Italy in 1935, Bruno was the youngest of seven siblings. In 1939, whilst his father was working in America in order to feed his family, the second world war broke out, and all borders were closed. Bruno’s father was left stranded in the US, whilst his mother had to care for their seven children alone with no income. After the Nazis invaded and occupied their village, the Sammartino family were forced to live in secrecy on the Valla Rocca mountain. Once a week, Bruno’s mother would make the 24 hour long journey down the mountain back to the village. As the soldiers that now lived in their former home slept, Bruno’s mother would break into the family’s basement, and take as many supplies as possible that they had built-up over the years. She would then make the return 24 hour journey all the way back up, hoping that her children had survived the full two days without her. On one of these life-saving missions, Bruno’s mother was captured by the Nazis, and barely made it out alive – the entire family was even once lined-up in front of a German firing squad, before being rescued only seconds from death. During the war, Bruno had to watch four of his siblings die, whilst simultaneously battling a serious bout of scarlet fever himself. When the war was over, Bruno was examined by doctors, and given just days to live. Somehow, Bruno made a miraculous recovery, and is still alive today over 70 years later.
All of these events happened before Bruno’s tenth birthday.
After moving to America and reuniting with his father in 1950, Bruno would go on to completely change his physique, wrestle with an orang-utan, sell out Madison Square Garden 187 times, set weightlifting records, and become the longest reigning WWE Champion of all time. Although there was a documentary made about his legendary achievements decades ago, a full, detailed and thorough account of Bruno’s unbelievable life and career, full of interviews with the McMahon family and WWE employees (now that they’re all friends again), is long overdue, and would easily become one of the best wrestling documentaries ever made.
Andre the Giant – Only an honourable mention because it has been confirmed that ESPN are making a documentary about the 8th Wonder of the World.
Mark Henry – Working for WWE consistently for twenty years, as well as being the company’s first-ever developmental talent, must come with some interesting stories.
Marty Jennetty – It’s about time we explored the ups and downs of the career of this former Rocker.
Raven – The opinionated man behind so many different gimmicks and creative decisions must have plenty of interesting anecdotes to tell.
Vader – This former IWGP Heavyweight Champion and WWE legend has had a long and plentiful career. And now with the man known as Vader currently fighting death, sadly the clock may be ticking on this potential documentary.
Kane – Glen Jacobs has been employed by WWE for over 20 years, portrayed one of the most iconic characters of the Attitude Era (and two of the worst of the New Generation), is extremely intelligent, won world championships, teamed with and faced against some of the greatest of all time, and is currently running for office. Now that is a man that deserves his own documentary.
WWE Referees – This didn’t make the list because I specifically limited it to wrestlers, but wouldn’t you love to see a WWE Network that took us through what it takes to become a WWE referee, and what it’s like to have the best seat in the house for every single match?
1. William Regal
William Regal has arguably one of the broadest, most diverse wrestling careers in the world. He began his career at 15 years old, wrestling in front of daily drunken crowds in Blackpool, where he repeatedly had to fend off inebriated members of the public, and even witnessed a local doorman receive 664 stitches after being slashed repeatedly. The veterans he was facing did everything they could to drive him away from the sport, partly to test his heart but also due to fear of him taking their spot, but not even day-to-day beatings could stop Regal’s love for wrestling. From these humble beginnings, he wrestled alongside British legend Big Daddy, across Europe with the likes of Fit Finlay and Dave Taylor, grappled in Japan, shared a hotel room with Jushin Thunder Liger in the Shetland Islands surrounded by miniature horses, had a lengthy, memorable run in WCW (and even gained a lordship), became a real man’s man, developed a life-threatening drug addiction which he eventuall overcame, became one of the best comedy characters of the Attitude Era as WWF Commissioner, formed a hilarious tag team alongside Tajiri, became King of the Ring, and is now the general manager of NXT and trains WWE’s developing talent at the performance centre. What’s more, Regal’s fascination with stand-up comedy and variety shows has gifted him with fantastic storytelling ability and a hilarious whit (listen to his appearance on the Tuesday Night Jaw podcast without smiling, it’s impossible). Combine that with decades of unbelievable stories, and William Regal is easily one of the most interesting people in the wrestling industry. The fact WWE hasn’t already made a feature-length documentary about the former European Champion is a crime because he has enough material to fill two or three. Please WWE, make this one happen.
Who do you think deserves their own documentary? Leave a comment below or tell me on Twitter @HairyWrestling