It’s ironic that as popular as reality TV was during the past decade, more often than not, there wasn’t necessarily much “reality” involved in those shows. More specifically, network reality shows are designed for ratings, not real-life content. Sure, there are elements of true events, but you never know when producers spin a scenario for added drama. For example, underrated legend, Lance Storm explained in-depth on a podcast, “Killing The Town” that his experience within the reality TV genre was less than favorable. “World of Hurt” was a reality show that aired in Canada for two seasons in 2011 and spotlighted the training process with Lance as a trainer for the aspiring grapplers. Storm, one of the most accomplished athletes of his generation, was so displeased with the attempts at manufactured drama that he declined to participate in the second season, which saw “Rowdy” Roddy Piper take over as a mentor on the show.
The idea to peek behind the curtain at the foundation of professional wrestling was popularized by WWE’s Tough Enough in the early 2000s and allowed a main stream audience a glimpse at the very real process the new recruits endure to safely learn the maneuvers they later perform on television. But, even Tough Enough, as ground-breaking as it was at the time, didn’t necessarily reflect the actual experience for new trainees. The majority of sports entertainment hopefuls don’t get to step into a WWE ring the first time they enter the squared circle. In fact, a much more accurate description doesn’t include an extensive facility or bright lights for TV cameras.
When professional wrestling veteran and video producer, JB Destiny set out to capture the effects of the popularity of women’s wrestling, he wanted to document exactly how women were inspired to chase the dream of sports entertainment that might’ve seemed unobtainable in the past. With more opportunities for female athletes now than ever before, the “Go Big or Go Home” documentary chronicles the journey of a group of young women as they begin to learn the tedious process of landing on the canvas, as well as understanding the techniques used inside the ring ropes. Different from what Tough Enough brought viewers on MTV, this documentary provides an unfiltered look at the world of women’s professional wrestling with a much more typical setting than was seen on television.
Less than thirty minutes outside of Pittsburgh, McKeesport, PA has featured independent wrestling for over two decades. Similar to many places within the original WWWF territory, the steel city has extensive wrestling history and a very dedicated fan base. For JB Destiny, the heyday of his career, which included a run as one of the best light heavyweights in the region in the late 1990s, was spent as a part of the Pro Wrestling Express:Fight Society, a group that has over twenty years of history. Several athletes, including Corey Graves learned their craft at the PWX training center so as a producer of several films, JB took his team to the school to document its current trainees. Under the guidance of accomplished filmmaker and author, BC Furtney, this feature takes a look into the foundation of the professional wrestling industry.
A former school building converted into a wrestling venue, the two-story structure has a mixture of grittiness and glamor, as a combination of overhead ring lights illuminate the canvas while the painted cement floor is a remind of its blue collar status. Most of the time, PWX runs events every two weeks, and depending on the weather, can draw a good crowd from their very loyal fan base. When longtime ring announcer, Hank Hudson isn’t projecting the bass in his voice to declare the winners of matches on Saturdays as the audience enthusiastically responses, the venue takes a much different tone during the week. Chants from an energized crowd are replaced with an echoing impact that reverberates off the textured walls of the wrestling arena as the trainees practice the proper way to land on the canvas. The current group of hopeful grapplers take turns completing various sequences under the watchful eye of longtime veteran and booker, Quinn Magnum, who is also one of the trainers at the school. With over twenty years of experience, Quinn provides some intriguing insight into what he considers the most important traits for potential trainees. A handful of current wrestlers also help with in-ring demonstrations before the trainees attempt new maneuvers.
The introduction of the ladies that pursue this venture is one of the most interesting aspects of this documentary, providing their background to allow for insight into what inspired them to become a wrestler. Without narration to influence the narrative, the viewers get the chance to decides for themselves who has a chance to make it to the big leagues and who is just a dreamer with an unrealistic goal. There’s also a fascinating look at the intricate details that are involved in some of the most common wrestling sequences. As viewers watch the training sessions progress, WWE Hall of Famer, Tully Blanchard makes a cameo to express his thoughts on what it takes to be successful in the professional wrestling business.
It was very interesting to see the tryout for a young lady that appears to assume that learning the basics of the training process is as flawless as the matches that she watches on television. Within minutes, the hopeful learns the harsh reality that landing on the ridged canvas is a very difficult aspect of the industry. More than anything, this segment reiterates that physical toll it takes to learn proper technique and the determination required to be successful.
“Go Big or Go Home” is a direct look at the origins of a professional wrestler. The audiences that flock to arenas to see the major events with bight lights and pryo will be surprised to see the humble beginning of a career. If the trainees featured in this production make it to the national level of the business remains to be seen, but this documentary certainly provides intriguing insight for the start of a career in the professional wrestling industry.
To order the documentary, you can go to https://www.amazon.com/Go-Big-Home-Various/dp/B07DPH4HDB
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Until next week
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