Friday, 14 August 2009

Justin Lee Collins: The Wrestler on Sky One - TV Review

Over the past few years there have been quite a few British television documentaries about professional wrestling, including Louis Theroux's visit to WCW and his infamous confrontation with the Sarge, and Anna Nolan's attempt to portray every aspect of women's wrestling as sleazy.

Comedian Justin Lee Collins is the latest to cast his eye over the grappling game, in the first of his new series for Sky One, entitled Justin Lee Collins: The Wrestler.

It was obvious from the outset that Justin was going to treat the wrestling business with the respect it deserved. Unlike many before him he obviously knew what he was talking about. His intention was to become a luchadore, so he could compete on the Luhca Libre London show.

His journey began in Ipswich, attending an All Star Wrestling show, witnessing the likes of James Mason against former WCW star P.N. News, as well as being slightly intimidated by my erstwhile friend Sweet Saraya. Backstage, Justin chats with Mason, before Saraya offers to train Justin.

Justin doesn't take her up on her offer, instead deciding to go to the LDN training school for a days tutelage under Jon Ritchie. Although he receives some good advice, it doesn't really prepare him for what he's about to receive in Mexico City.

Once there he's taken under the wing of exotico wrestler Cassandro. For those of you who don't know, Cassandro is a transvestite wrestler, and someone who certainly knows his game. He puts Justin through ten days worth of hard training. His body aches all over, he almost cries at times, and considers quitting, but he carries on.

But Justin doesn't just spend time training while in Mexico. He visits a wrestling shop to be outfitted, learns about the rich history of Lucha Libre, as well as visiting the home of the legendary El Hijo del Santo. He also comes up with his ring name, El Gloriouso.

His training complete, he finds out that he's earned his place on the London show, where he competes in an angle with Cassandro, and loses his mask, the crowd finding out that this new rudo is in fact a well known British television star.

I'm not really a big fan of Justin Lee Collins, but I really enjoyed this programme. He treated the wrestling business and the people he encountered with a tremendous degree of respect, and for that I have to give him kudos. I also have to give him kudos for not giving up, and for stepping into the ring and putting on a good show, not bad considering he'd only had eleven days worth of training. I've known people who have trained for over ten years that still can't put on a good match. Justin put those people to shame, and did himself proud. This was a really good look at the world of professional wrestling, and one of the best British-made documentaries I've ever seen.

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