This first came to my attention a year ago when I was searching Amazon for wrestling DVDs. From the “Editorial Review” I believed this was a documentary on female wrestling through the years and that it featured thoughts and insights from various females in the business. However, I was mistaken. This being an “Outside the Ropes” presentation, it is basically dozens of clips from various RF video shoot interviews spliced together into one video. In my mind, that’s not a documentary; however, I still gave it the benefit of the doubt and watched it.
The shoots themselves have taken place in a variety of locations – everywhere from hotel rooms to studios even to a Waffle House. Some parts, such as the Waffle House segment with April Hunter and Talia Madison, are hard to hear unless you have the volume up high, but for the most part the audio is of good quality. The lighting is as well; you can see each woman as she speaks. At the very beginning, a quick clip of Sherri Martel speaking is shown, followed by “In Memory of Sherri Martel” along with her dates of birth and death, then a picture of her in the ring. As this DVD was released in 2008 and includes clips of her shoot, this was a nice gesture.
The women included in the video are: Fabulous Moolah, Mae Young, Luna Vachon, Sherri Martel, Ryan Shamrock, Joanie Laurer, Baby Doll, Jasmin St. Clair, Tammy “Sunny” Sytch, Francine, Jackie Gayda, Gorgeous George, Kimona, Dana Dameson, and Missy Hyatt. However, not every segment features a clip from every woman.
The layout is separated into different sections, which are as follows:
“I Was Born a Fan” – You hear from various women about if they were wrestling fans growing up, how they viewed wrestling from their perspectives.
“Is That All You Got?” - This segment is about how they broke into the business and how each started out, if they always wanted to get into the business and if their family encouraged it.
“A Girl Walking Into a Boy’s World” - Here, personal stories about how the men in wrestling reacted when they each entered wrestling (if they were warmly received, if they were dismissed as not serious, so forth).
“On the Road With April and Talia” - This was a segment that broke the pattern. In the previous three, it had clips of various women talking about their experiences, but here they included footage from an RF video that followed April Hunter and Talia Madison around. It shows them (along with April’s boyfriend JD Michaels) leaving a hotel room and riding to a nearby Waffle House where the majority of this takes place. Seated in a booth, they each speak about how they started watching wrestling, how they broke into it, where they trained and their experiences while training. We then follow them to backstage at a show where we get a glimpse of what it’s like to be at an independent show – we see them getting ready in a bathroom, signing autographs for fans, going over their plans for the match and ends with black and white footage of April facing Talia. The match goes in fast forward, however, and although most of it is shown, there’s interruptions here and there where parts were edited out.
“Love Stories” - The video is back to the format it started with, and this section was interesting since it talked about the romantic relationships that formed. Only five women are featured in this one: Jackie Gayda, Luna Vachon (we hear from her then-husband Gangrel, who is off camera), Missy Hyatt, Sunny (explaining her relationship with Shawn Michaels), and Joanie Laurer (who discusses her relationship with Triple H and how it came to an end).
“Learning with Dana Dameson” – I’m not sure why this segment was included. I was not aware of who this woman was until I watched this video and I learned nothing from this clip, which is the shortest on the DVD. Dana talks about when she started learning to wrestle (upon being asked what she learned, she responded that she had learned to do a “tilty whirl”), and when beginning to bump, she realised that it hurt. So she did not want to do it anymore. So she learned how to cat fight. Professional wrestling lost a real gem when Miss Dameson got out of the business…
“Learning with Luna” – Now this was a touching portion. A camera follows Luna Vachon to Amityville, NY for a training session where she speaks infront of a small group who seem to be learning how to wrestle. She talks about the grueling travel schedule, something that the folks may not have thought about before. It then shows her taking extra time with the (seemingly) only female student in the group. She goes into details about how females need to protect certain parts of their body and be careful when bumping. At the very end, Luna gives passionate, heart felt advice to all the students.
“Catfights” - This was the second most fascinating section that featured a few of the ladies running down or going into detail about other females they didn’t get on with. In partcular: Sunny talking about Rena “Sable” Mero (“Sable, Rena Mero, is a cunt.” That’s how this segment starts.); Luna talking about Sable; Joanie talking about Sable; Baby Doll about Miss Elizabeth; Sunny about Jackie Gayda; Fabulous Moolah about Judy Grable & Penny Banner; Wendi Richter about working with Sapphire; and finally, April Hunter about Allison Danger.
“Misconceptions, Money, Madness & Advice” - The last part is a hodge podge of sorts. It has a select few women speaking on various personal topics. For example, Luna Vachon gives her take on her relationship with Vince McMahon; Baby Doll speaks on the biggest paycheck she ever received in the business; and five women give advice: Joanie, Sunny, Moolah, Mae and Sherri.
Under the bonus menu, I found six matches which were:
*Sara Del Rey v Nikki Roxx from the World-1 Queen’s Cup tournament on 1/7/2007.
*Cheerleader Melissa v Mercedes Martinez from Pro-Wrestling Elite “Never Say Never” on 6/3/2006.
*April Hunter v Talia Doll from TNT Wrestling sometime in 2006.
*Sumie Sakai v Daizee Haze from Pro-Wrestling Elite “Raising the Stakes” on 3/24/2006.
*Kylie Pierce v Angela (special guest referee Sherri Martel) from Maryland Championship Wrestling on 11/11/2006.
*Luna Vachon v Alicia from Women Superstars Uncensored on 5/5/2007 (No Disqualification).
Personally, I found the “Learning with Luna” segment the most heart warming. This is a lady who truly wanted to change the conception of female wrestling, and her passion for it can be felt watching her interactions with the students. She gives great advice, especially to the woman she spent time with in the ring. It was nice to get a glimpse of the real Luna Vachon. Also, the tidbits with Sherri Martel were both intriguing and saddening. Considering what happened to her, the advice she gives is particular poignant.
Other than the “Love Stories” and “Catfights” sections, there wasn’t too much that was really compelling about this DVD. Given that I thought it would be an actual documentary, I was let down with it being only clips of various shoot interviews put together. Some parts, such as the “Learning with Dana Dameson” were unnecessary, although that could go for having her on the video period.
As for the matches, all were good, some quite a bit better than others. What bothered me, however, was the commentary and the camera angles for the Cheerleader Melissa v Mercedes Martinez match. It was a great match, as you’d expect out of two skilled wrestlers, but both of those items ruined it for me. First off, neither of them seemed to have a grasp on wrestling holds or manuvers. They didn’t know the name of Melissa’s finisher. But what disgusted me most was that after a kick from Mercedes, Melissa is on the mat with her legs spread and the cameraman proceeds to zoom in close on Melissa’s crotch. For several seconds. The commentators make lewd remarks on top of this.
I realise that my displeasure with this should not colour my overall review of the DVD; however, considering the fact that the man who produces RF video (Rob Feinstein) also owned Pro-Wrestling Elite, Rob made the choice to include this match on the video. He claims at the very start that this DVD’s purpose is to shed light on how tough females in wrestling have it and give women a voice to express their experiences – then he includes a great match that has extremely sexist camera work and commentary.
The double standard is hard to miss.
If you are looking for a documentary on female wrestling, this isn’t it. If you are looking for a video that has a wide variety of women in wrestling that speak on various topics, this is right up your alley. However, considering all these clips were taken from separate, complete RF shoot interviews, you could save time and money by buying the DVDs of the women you are interested in instead of buying this one. This goes for the matches as well if any of them interest you.
This DVD is available on Amazon.com as well as various other places online.
– Jennifer Logsdon