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.
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