In a few weeks, Daniel Bryan will main event Summerslam, competing against John Cena for the WWE Championship. Bryan has come a long way since his indy days in Ring of Honor and Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, and he deserves 100% of what he has gotten and will continue to get in the pro wrestling world. However, for every Daniel Bryan, there are hundreds, even thousands of guys who do not get his opportunities.
What is the film that best represents wrestling? Most people would say The Wrestler; others might say Beyond the Mat. While both films are engaging and worth watching, neither do as good of a job of capturing the essence of pro wrestling more than Nigel McGuinness self-made documentary "The Last of McGuinness." The film chronicles McGuinness's retirement tour, but it is much more than a glimpse inside of what goes on inside wrestling, it is more of a human story, about chasing your dreams and coping with defeat.
For those of you who may not know. McGuinness was an independent wrestler from England, who wrestled around the world and held the Ring of Honor World Title for 545 days. He is probably best remembered for his time in TNA, where he wrestled under the ring name "Desmond Wolfe." Despite McGuinness's short time in TNA, he worked with many of its top stars, including Kurt Angle, Rob Van Dam, AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels.
To the average fan, one would look at those accomplishments and say that Nigel accomplished a lot in his career, one that only a few select performers can ever enjoy. However, as it is painfully brought up time and time again, McGuinness views his own career as a personal failure.
Nigel set out to the United States as a teenager to become a WWE Superstar. Despite all of his accomplishments, McGuinness never was able to reach the promised land, and in doing so, was never able to make a significant financial living off of professional wrestling. During the film, Nigel is shown working part time at a deli. In another scene, while packing for a flight, Nigel tells the camera that he is going to be wearing 4 shirts onto the plane, all the same shirt, one a size medium, the others being large, extra-large and double extra-large. Nigel cannot afford to check in another bag, so he must carry all of his merchandise with him onto the plane.
Nigel actually did get a contract with the WWE, him and Daniel Bryan signed contracts at the same time, a fitting tribute for two friends who had been stalwarts on the independent scene for years. Unfortunately for Nigel, the WWE was concerned about an old bicep injury, one that the WWE physician said needed surgery. Despite Nigel getting a second opinion on his injury, and that doctor sending WWE a letter saying that Nigel was clear to wrestle, the contract was voided, and Nigel was back on the outside.
McGuinness's appeared to land on his feet, getting a job with TNA and immediately inserting himself into a feud with Kurt Angle. Angle and Nigel wrestled a series of excellent matches, including a bloody "Three Degrees of Pain" match at Final Resolution, a match, in my personal opinion was the best wrestling match of the past five years.
After wrapping up the feud with Angle, McGuinness lost out on a spot with Ric Flair's Fortune stable, and then went on a long losing streak, dropping matches to men like Rob Van Dam, Abyss and D'Angelo Dinero. Despite his losses, the fans were behind McGuinness, as he won a fan vote to receive a title shot, finishing well above "bigger" names such as Jeff Hardy, Rob Van Dam and Mr. Anderson. After being a part of a tag team with Magnus, Nigel was taken off of TV and all live events, and nobody knew why.
In his film, McGuinness reveals that while he was in TNA, he had contracted Hepatitis B. McGuinness swears that he never had unprotected sex, and that he never shared needles with anyone. He did however; take part in his fair share of bloody matches during his time in TNA. McGuinness was put on the shelf for around 6 months, during which, he was fired from his job in TNA.
After being denied from the WWE and things having gone south for him in TNA, McGuinness announced that he was retiring, and that he would go on one final tour. McGuinness's final matches were not at Madison Square Garden, in front of tens of thousands of fans, it was at bingo halls and armories, in front of only a few hundred people. These matches were chronicled in the film, and after each match, McGuinness becomes more and more upset about his status in wrestling, and how that dream he had as a teenager coming to America, was all but dead.
The day after his final match, an emotional Nigel takes out his video camera in a parking lot and goes on a long, profanity laced tirade about the unfortunate turns his career has taken. I watch my fair share of movies, but I don't think I have seen anything quite as emotional as watching a man break down and admit that his life had been a failure, and that he wasted the last 12 years of his life chasing something that never came to fruition.
Nigel has since been an advocate for stopping the unnecessary blood-letting of professional wrestling. I know that it seems weak sometimes that the WWE has banned blading, and that other companies have fallen suit, but Nigel really puts a human face on the issues of blood in wrestling. These are not actors in a film, these are real humans who are bleeding real blood, and injury can occur. It is not a stretch to say that the unnecessary bleeding during his time in TNA ruined Nigel's wrestling career, and forced him into an early retirement.
If you are interested in pro-wrestling, or in the idea of the American dream, you should really give "The Last of McGuinness" a viewing, as no other film better presents the highs and the lows of pro wrestling more than McGuinness's documentary.
For more information on "The Last of Mcguinness" click on the Author's Link below.