Kayfabe died a long time ago, which is to say that everyone is in on the secret of professional wrestling — and the wrestlers themselves no longer pretend otherwise. Even so, this blurring of the lines between reality and illusion belies the industry’s real secret: What goes on behind the scenes has always been more interesting than what we actually see onscreen.
That’s the premise behind Viceland’s forthcoming docuseries “Dark Side of the Ring,” which examines some of the most infamous incidents in pro-wrestling. Smart marks may already be familiar with the tragic fate of the Von Erichs or Bruiser Brody’s suspicious death, but anyone who’s never stayed up all night to watch Wrestle Kingdom or obsessed over Dave Meltzer’s star ratings will surely find a lot of new insights here. “There was a period in the wrestling business where, if you were crazy onscreen, you were crazy offscreen,” one of the interviewees said. “You had to live your gimmick.”
Here’s the scintillating synopsis: “From backstage controversies to mysterious deaths and unsolved homicides, this series explores the darkest stories from the golden age of professional wrestling — with each episode centered on a professional wrestling icon, including the tragic love story of Randy ‘Macho Man’ Savage and Miss Elizabeth, the infamous ‘Montreal Screwjob’ which stripped Bret Hart of his title, the locker room altercation that led to the death of Bruiser Brody, as well as the dark history of the Von Erich wrestling dynasty, the controversial death of ‘Gorgeous’ Gino Hernandez and a look at the intense allegations against legendary female star The Fabulous Moolah.”
The series is narrated by Dutch Mantel, who will be familiar to WWE viewers as Zeb Colter, the mobility scooter–riding manager of both Jack Swagger and Alberto Del Rio. The six-episode “Dark Side of the Ring” premieres on Viceland on Wednesday, April 10.