New Documentary Pins Down Detroit’s Storied Wrestling Past
DETROIT (WWJ) Detroit’s place in pro wrestling history is the focus of a documentary — “Battles, Bouts, and Brawls” — premiering this week at the Maple Theater in Bloomfield.
It pins down many of the people who were on the wrestling scene before pay-per-views and sculpted over-the-top bodies were the norm.
Even without abs of steel and oiled, bulging biceps, producer Mark Nowotarski told WWJ’s Scott Ryan old school wrestlers had a brutal life compared to their contemporaries.
“The professional wrestling of the past was indeed very, very grueling,” Nowotarski said. “It was a hard life, it was a hard life on the road, driving anywhere from 10 to 14 hours to get to another state or two states over.”
The documentary delves into the men who went to the mat in an era without cable, pyrotechnics, and lucrative contracts. “The big guns of professional wrestling have Detroit as their talent pool,” Nowotarski said. “And that is not an exaggeration — just by using Rhino, by using, Sabu, Rob Van Dam, Movoto, Kevin Nash is from Trenton, Michigan.”
Nowotarski says that while today’s wrestling characters are often corporate-crafted, personas like George the Animal Steele and Ox Baker were often decided over post-match beers.
Baker is among those who’ll be on hand for Thursday night’s 8 p.m. showing, along with Rhino, Truth Martini, and more.