Wednesday, 28 February 2001

The Biography Channel's Bodyslam Week - TV Review

This week I am doing a little mini-series. The Biography Channel here in Britain has a special Body Slam week, running Monday-Thursday. Although some of you in the US have probably seen these before, I'd still like to review these programs here.
Tonight: Stone Cold Steve Austin - Lord of the Ring.
General opinion - although I knew much of what had already happened, I still found this program to be highly entertaining. It's nice to see a side of the wrestlers we don't get to see very often.Austin seems to have earned nothing but respect from his peers. Vince McMahon, Michael Hayes, Mick Foley, Jerry Lawler, and The Rock all paid glowing tributes not only to Austin the wrestler, but to Austin the man.Austin himself came over as a pretty decent bloke, and it was great to see his pre-wrestling days. I've followed his career from almost the beginning, and seeing him in some of the old USWA stuff really brought back some memories. Seeing the transformation of Stunning Steve into Stone Cold was also interesting. You have to wonder if WCW ever kicked themselves for firing Austin, after he said he wanted to wear black trunks and boots.
I would like to say to all of the anti-Austin brigade that those who have labelled him a no-talent brawler must have been slightly surprised by the footage from his days as The Ringmaster. The only reason Austin brawls so much now is because of the charcter he portrays. After all, it was Stone Cold who became the highest earner in wrestling, not Stunning Steve.
All in all, a highly entertaining hour, and I recommend it to anyone. If the Biography channel shows this again, give it a
look. 8/10.
Continuing with the review of The Biography Channel's Body Slam week here in Britain, today's review - Mick Foley; Mankind Unmasked.
It's no secret that I'm a fan of Mick Foley, both man and wrestler, but I must say that this biography of him really did not do him justice. In a word - disappointing.I've read Mick's book (twice) and it was disappointing that large chunks of his professional life were barely touched upon or not mentioned at all. His career in WCW and ECW had brief mentions. The accident in Germany that cost him his ear was not mentioned at all. And his status in Japan, most notably his King of the Death Match tournament victory was also not mentioned.
This may have been for a number of reasons - time constraints, time slot, etc. But these were big parts of Mick's career, and by not mentioning them, well, the whole program seemed incomplete without them. Of course, Hell in a Cell was mentioned. Boy did that bring back some memories.
In closing - entertaining, but disappointing as well. Sorry fellas, only 6/10.
The Biography Channel's Body Slam week continued with the story of a man who turned a few heads during his life - Jesse Ventura.
I'm sure that like many fans who first began to watch the WWF in the mid-to-late 1980's, many of us got our first look at Jesse Ventura the announcer, and we didn't know much about Ventura the wrestler, or Ventura the man. This biography was a very interesting insight into the life of this interesting and extraordinary man.
While many said that as a wrestler he was sort of average, and not the best in the world, they acknowledged that he was one of the best mic workers around, something that would serve him well during his work as an announcer. It documented the tragic events that brought a premature end to his wrestling career, and the start of his announcing career. If I have to say anything bad about this, is that they could have focused on this aspect a bit more.
There was also a brief mention of his acting career, with the brilliant line from Predator - "Dutch, you're bleeding!" "I ain't got time to bleed!" While not as good as Roddy Piper's line in They Live, it's still a good movie moment.I have to say though, that even as a wrestling fan, I thought the best part of this program was the part about his political career. Years of working the mic as an announcer and radio DJ obviously paid off, especially during the Governor debates, when he made the Republican and the Democrat candidates look like little boys.
As an Englishman, I must admit I take very little interest in US politics. For a short while, Jesse Ventura changed that. He has overcome the doubters, who saw him as nothing more than a second-rate wrestler. He has proven his critics wrong, and for that, I applaud him, and I applaud this biography of him. Catch it again if you can.
The final part of the mini-series, reviewing The Biography Channel's Body Slam week. Today, Andre The Giant.
This was the one I had been looking forward to, and it did not disappoint. From his early days, to his teenage years, trying to find his role in life, to finally finding joy in the world of wrestling, the story of Andre The Giant made compelling viewing. Those, from family, childhood friends right through to the people who worked with him, did not have a single bad word to say about the man.
The gentle giant from France left a lasting impression on everyone he ever came into contact with. The struggles and pain he endured throughout his life because of his condition made for compelling viewing. Out of the four biographies shown this week, this was by far the best. Andre The Giant is a legend, the true Giant of wrestling. The likes of Jorge Gonzalez and Paul Wight can in no way hold a candle to the big man himself. Best score of the week - 9/10.

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