My oldest daughter brought home the stomach flu from school last Friday and, since it quickly spread through our small house, I wound up taking a sick day with my wife and youngest daughter this past Monday.
Since there really wasn’t a whole lot I could do, I waited until my daughter was napping and sat down to watch the documentary “The Spectacular Legacy of the AWA.”
As a kid growing up in the Midwest in the 1970s and 80s, I do remember watching the American Wrestling Association on television. And, even today, I will sometimes watch re-runs of AWA matches on ESPN whenever they are aired. So, this documentary interested me because I was curious both about the history of the wrestling association and what caused its ultimate demise.
The film did not disappoint.
Since it was produced by WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment), a former AWA rival, I was a bit concerned it would be biased and even derogatory. However, I was actually very impressed with how balanced it was. The documentary does a good job explaining the history of the AWA and professional wrestling in general. And, even though it does seem to lean toward picking on AWA founder Verne Gagne for the mistakes he made, it also manages to show the AWA’s failure wasn’t necessarily just his fault and, more importantly, manages to remind everyone about the influence he and the wrestling alliance had on professional wrestling even today.
For example, when it talked about the number of big named wrestlers, managers, announcers, etc. that left the AWA for the WWE, it was easy to blame Gagne for not doing enough to keep them (especially Hulk Hogan). But, at the same time, the fact the stars weren’t honoring their contracts made the AWA look like a victim. It was actually somewhat interesting to see some of those same wrestlers talk about why they left but, at the same time, pay their respects to the AWA because it launched their career.
As a result of all of this, I have to say I was very impressed with this documentary. Even though it is primarily geared toward the average professional wrestling fan, I think it is a film that is worth watching even if you’ve never seen a pro wrestling match and I’m glad the WWE took the time to make it.
My Grade: 4 stars out of a possible 5.