Memphis Heat: The True Story of Memphis Wrasslin
Directed by Chad Schaffler
Remember when throwing somebody over the top rope was illegal? How about jumping off the top rope? How about illegal wrestling moves?
If you can remember a time before John Cena and CM Punk, then this wrestling documentary maybe your Fuji dust in the face. Memphis Heat tells the story of Memphis style wrestling. The history, the stars and the outrageousness that made it one of the most popular sports and programs in the 60s, 70s and 80s in the Memphis territory. It's an outstanding documentary that delivers a piledrivers of info of what it was like to experience this brand of wrestling. The documentary includes colorful characters of the past and present interviewed and gives you stories you won't believe.
Just like Memphis wrestling's glory days, the main attraction in this documentary is Jerry "The King" Lawler, who younglings now only think was a former wrestler turned announcer that talked smack. But Lawler was one of the most popular wrestlers back in the day, and this doc shows it. History is covered as well as stories of promoters from hell, territory wars and in depth interviews with stars like Jackie Fargo, Jimmy Hart, Bill Dundee, Rocky Johnson, Jimmy Valiant, Jerry Jarrett, Billy Wicks and a man I had never hears of Sputnick Monroe. Sputnick's story is fascinating.
He was a main eventer and one of the most popular stars in the 60s. He wrestled in classic matches but more importantly demanded black fans be allowed to see him wrestle. The promoters were forced to expand the "colored" section and integrate the city. It's an interesting and important and somebody should honor this damn man.
Footage from Saturday Morning Wrestling is interspliced with interviews and you get a nice overview of all the storylines, gimmicks, tragedy and eventual downfall of the promotion. Lawler's feud with Andy Kaufman is covered in detail and it's clearly one I remember hearing about even though I was a youngling.
Memphis Heat rivals any WWE documentary in that it knows it's subject matter inside and out. It treats wrestling with the respect it deserves and most importantly honors all these living legends who took great pride in their sport. If you call yourself a wrestling fan, you need to see this documentary.
Check out the trailer!