Thursday, 12 July 2007

NWF Kids Pro Wrestling: The Untold Story - DVD Review

It was in 1984 when, after the introduction of public access television in America, Shawn Crossen of Anoka, Minnesota, launched his own wrestling promotion, and within three years his television shows were being seen all over the country, and he was drawing sell-out crowds at his regular live events.
Sounds like a great success story, doesn’t it? It should do, because when he began, Shawn was just fourteen years old.

NWF Kids Pro Wrestling - The Untold Story tells the story of how Shawn set up his own promotion, which went on to be known as the National Wrestling Federation, with the help of a few friends. Starting off by filming shows in his basement featuring matches wrestled on a couple of mattresses, the whole set-up looked amateurish, but remarkably the show began to get a local following on public access television, and despite the
attempts of a cable company employee to stop the show, it developed to the point where they moved from the basement to a television studio to Shawn’s parent’s garage and eventually to his local school, where he was allowed to use a boxing ring in the basement to film his shows, developing as they went along, honing his production skills by taking various courses, and buying their own wrestling ring.

But Shawn wanted more, and in 1986 he held the first of a series of live events at a local venue, sometimes drawing crowds numbering in the hundreds, something that some of today’s smaller promotions would be highly envious of. But sadly, even Shawn’s promotion was subject to the politics that are in every part of the wrestling business, as a betrayal by a trusted friend and one of his roster saw the beginning of the end of the NWF.

When I first put this disc into my DVD player, I didn’t really know what to expect. What I found was one of the best documentaries I’ve seen recently. This isn’t a story about a bunch of kids beating the hell out of each other in back yards with all manner of crazy implements, this is the story of a young man wanting to entertain people via the then-new medium of public access television. It’s a compelling story, told by those who were part of the promotion. Shawn Crossen, in his own unique way, was a visionary for doing what he did back then, a young man with the drive and determination to make a success of his project, to overcome the obstacles that were placed in front of him until they eventually became too much for him to handle. I heartily recommend this release, because the NWF will go down in wrestling history as one of the most unique and original promotions ever. Some may compare the NWF to today’s backyard wrestling scene, but there really is no comparison.

Over the next few weeks and months I’ll be taking a look back at the four live events the NWF held at the Anoka Armoury in Minnesota, which have also been released on DVD.