A series of interviews with professional wrestlers, reminiscing about their career highs and lows, both inside and out of the ring.
Bloodstained Memoirs is evidently a labour of love for director David Sinnott. An unashamed fan of professional wrestling, the ‘sports entertainment’ that many (unfairly) would argue is neither, Sinnott has spent years collating interviews with some of its biggest stars, and has even secured the services of WWE journeyman Al Snow as presenter. It’s an effort that in some cases has paid off handsomely — as in the case of his engaging Q&A with venerable veteran Jimmy Snuka, or Roddy Piper’s recollection of the time he was stabbed — and in others has been notably compromised by the entirely unofficial, DIY, sometimes on-the-hoof nature of the production.
Former ‘WWF Undisputed Champion’ Chris Jericho, for example, is here, but uninterested in, and apparently unwilling to, discuss anything beyond his post-wrestling music career with metal band Fozzy. The documentary attempts to climax with Mick Foley — aka Cactus Jack, aka Mankind — one of modern wrestling’s true icons, but presumably unable to secure a 1-on-1, Sinnott is reduced to snatching footage from a book-signing at Borders. (Although this in itself is admittedly interesting, being infused with an odd pathos as Foley, a sharp, witty and deeply likeable shaggy bear of a man, tries in vain to energise a semi-somnambulic British crowd.)
It’s also a shame Sinnott is so limited in the footage he can show. When you hear about ‘Superfly’ Snuka’s legendary dive from the top of the cage at Madison Square Garden in 1982, you rather understandably want to see it.
Given Sinnott’s admirably unwavering go-get attitude and restricted budget, it’s perhaps unfair to compare Bloodstained Memoirs with the Big Daddy of wrestling docs, Barry Blaustein’s superb Beyond The Mat (one of the finest documentaries of the ’90s, in fact), but whereas Blaustein, a fan himself, catered for an audience of non-fans curious about what makes men (and women) want to hit each other with chairs and dive from ladders onto tables scattered with tacks, Sinnott’s film exists purely for the converted. His questions are detailed, specific and knowledgable — and as such will utterly confound those who don’t know their ECW from their NWA, their TLC from their Triple-Threat.
Still, this is a film by a fan for fans, so it certainly has its audience, and Sinnott’s enthusiasm shines through. However, if the names Rob Van Dam, Molly Holly and Keiji Muto mean nothing to you, then this download-only doc (available from www.bloodstainedmemoirs.com) won’t exactly warrant a spot on your hard drive.
Sinnott sifts enough nuggets here to satisfy sports entertainment die-hards, but anyone driven — say by a curiosity generated by Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler — to learn more about the phenomenon, will remain none the wiser.
Reviewed by Dan Jolin