Friday, 14 September 2007

The Backyard - Film Review

Once again the controversial subject of backyard wrestling makes it into the hallowed halls of The Two Sheds Review. This past Sunday, March 12th, Paul Hough’s documentary, The Backyard, received it’s British television premiere on digital station ITV4.
Hough’s documentary certainly makes for interesting viewing, as he travels across America meeting a cast of characters that are both disturbing and compelling to watch at the same time. For instance, there’s the Gates brothers, who stage fights in their mother’s backyard, and who come up with highly elaborate storylines, involving their mother, to explain their rivalry on videotape. There’s also the 17 year old owner of Modesto Championship Wrestling, billed as the Vince McMahon of the backyard scene, who bosses his wrestlers around as if he owned their lives. There’s an interesting scene where he chews out a young backyarder for arriving late, then presents him with his opponent for the show, a fat kid about three times his size.

While there are those that don’t support their children, especially the mother who drags her son away from a match in a park, the surprising thing is there are those who actively support what they do, such as the parents of a youngster named Scar who underwent countless major surgeries as a child, and an entire community in up-state New York that supports the local backyard federation. The only man who doesn’t openly support them is the local high school wrestling coach.

There’s also a venture to my part of the world, as Hough visits East Norfolk Backyard Wrestling, located near Great Yarmouth, a group of youngster I had considerable contact with a few years ago (they wanted me to commentate on their videos, an offer I naturally declined). Adam Yarco and his pals consider themselves superior to their American cousins, and seem to delight in blading themselves to get the juice flowing.

But perhaps the most compelling character of all is a 26 year old backyarder called The Lizard. With dreams of becoming a superstar, we follow the Lizard around the circuit, and to Las Vegas as he makes the final 250 for WWE’s Tough Enough 2.

It’s the Lizard’s encounter with the professional XRW promotion. It was interesting to watch as the Lizard was offered a professional debut, but it’s against a professionally trained shooter, and he’s asked to change his gimmick, something that he’s reluctant to do.

In a fast food restaurant after the meeting he voices his fears to the camera, of how the shoot fighter could cause him some serious harm, and how he’s considering pulling out of the match with a fake injury (which he later does), and while I could understand his concerns, I couldn’t help but think that he should have been voicing these concerns to his promoter rather than a film director. Later, we see the Lizard attending a training school, and making his professional debut.

There’s also a fleeting appearance from Rob Van dam, who says what while he supports the backyard scene, he thinks it should be more regulated, which is something that everyone knows just isn’t going to happen.

In conclusion - while The Backyard makes for compelling viewing, it’s uneasy viewing at that. Seeing youngsters being put through burning tables and proud of the fact that they take bumps on broken glass still doesn’t change my view of backyard wrestling. It’s nothing more than disorganised chaos.

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