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Series / Dark Side of the Ring

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Dark Side of the Ring is a television documentary series produced by Vice on TV that focuses on controversial subjects within the world of professional wrestling. It premiered in April 2019.

The series has covered individual wrestlers, wrestling shows, and the backstage nature of the professional wrestling industry. Namely, about how kayfabe is nothing compared to the backstage politics, drama, and tragedy among the world of professional wrestling.

Narrators for the series include Chris Jericho, Mick Foley, and Dutch Mantel (Zeb Colter).

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Episode List:

    Season 1 
  1. The Match Made in Heaven (Randy Savage and Miss Elizabeth)
  2. The Montreal Screwjob
  3. The Killing of Bruiser Brody
  4. The Last of the Von Erichs
  5. The Mysterious Death of Gorgeous Gino
  6. The Fabulous Moolah

    Season 2 
  1. Benoit, Part 1 (Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero)
  2. Benoit, Part 2 (The murder-suicide of Chris Benoit)
  3. The Life and Crimes of New Jack
  4. The Brawl For All
  5. Jimmy Snuka and The Death of Nancy Argentino
  6. The Assassination of Dino Bravo
  7. David Schultz & The Slap Heard Round the World
  8. Cocaine & Cowboy Boots: The Herb Abrams Story
  9. The Last Ride of The Road Warriors
  10. The Final Days of Owen Hart


Dark Side of the Ring uses the following tropes:

  • Adult Fear: The death of a loved one, in varying causes, has been a constant topic in the episodes.
  • Arch-Enemy:
    • Jim Cornette and Vince Russo have no love lost for each other. This is touched upon in the Montreal Screwjob episode, where Cornette says that it's his life goal to outlive Russo so he can piss on Russo's grave. Part of this animosity comes from the fact that Russo believes that Bret Hart was in on the Screwjob, swearing to this day that the whole thing is one big work. Cornette, who is an Unwitting Instigator of Doom over the incident, hates Russo for this (among many other reasons).
    • Jose Gonzales' Real Life animosity with Bruiser Brody ultimately leads to him stabbing the latter.
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • Kevin von Erich loses all his brothers and his father within ten years, but learns to accept and make peace with it. He now lives in Hawaii as the patriarch of his own family, with his two wrestler sons carrying the legacy of the Von Erich name with them.
    • David Schultz's wrestling career was ruined by the slapping debacle, but he had a successful career as a Bounty Hunter afterwards.
    • Owen Hart's family never really got justice over his fatal accident, but despite that they continue to live their lives nobly to honor his memory. Owen's legacy is also remembered fondly by his colleagues.
  • Book-Ends: The first (two) and last episodes of Season 2 are about the high-profile controversial deaths of renowned Canadian wrestlers.
  • Canon Discontinuity: Discussed, due to the nature of the business.
    • Chris Benoit is Exiled from Continuity after the murder-suicide of his wife and child. He's mentioned in title reigns on the company's website, but that's all. Jim Ross is of the opinion that Benoit will "never, ever, ever" go into the WWE Hall of Fame, regardless of how good of a wrestler he was.invoked
    • The name of The Fabulous Moolah is erased from WWE's good graces after it's revealed how much she was manipulating things behind the scenes to remain on top and how terribly she was treating her wrestling students.
  • Darkest Hour: The first part of Chris Benoit's story focuses partly on Eddie Guerrero. Eddie had his darkest hour after he'd been fired from WWE for drug use, which Eddie's wife Vickie saw as a good thing because it might convince him to clean up his act, seeing as how she was getting more and more frustrated with Eddie's constant drug use and bad behavior.note  It worked: Eddie got cleaned up, got his job back, turned to God for comfort, and restored his family's faith in him. However, this made Eddie's sudden death in 2005 from heart failure all the more tragic.
  • Death by Falling Over: Owen Hart's tragic fate at WWE's Over the Edge '99 on May 23, 1999. His colleagues are still disturbed by it.
  • Deceased Parents Are the Best: The children of the dead wrestlers covered speak fondly of them. The most notable being David Benoit, who still loves his father despite what the latter did. Dino Bravo's daughter Claudia happily recalls her dad purchasing a new car and promising it to her when she turned 16 and how he remains her hero over two decades after his death.
  • Determined Widow: Dr. Martha Hart, the late Owen Hart's widow, relentlessly fights for justice over his death to this very day. She and her children are also adamant on not allowing Owen be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, not wanting him to be celebrated by the same organization that had a huge role to his untimely death.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: Chavo Guerrero Jr. reveals in "Benoit: Part One" that this happened to his uncle Eddie. According to Chavo, he found Eddie on his bathroom floor, alive but barely clinging to life. Though Chavo tried to get help, Eddie ultimately passed away in Chavo's arms. Chavo tears up upon recalling it, saying "I haven't been to this place in a long time."
  • Disproportionate Retribution: David Schultz and his supporters believe his depushing and eventual release after slapping 20/20 reporter John Stossel was this compared to Hulk Hogan getting away scot-free with choking out Richard Belzer months later on the latter's show Hot Properties.
  • Downer Ending:
    • Bruiser Brody is murdered in the locker room by fellow wrestler Jose Gonzales during a show in Mexico, who is eventually acquitted of the murder in no small part due to the corruption of the police involved (Tony Atlas, the one wrestler who was willing to come forward and accuse Jose, was never contacted to appear in the trial), and has continued to live his life, a bitter pill that Brody's widow and son have had to swallow for years.
    • The deaths of both Gino Hernandez and Dino Bravo remains unsolved to this day, leaving their families without any closure.
    • Chris Benoit kills his wife and son, then kills himself. It breaks his family apart, the WWE retroactively erases him from their programming, and David Benoit is left with very few people to turn to.
    • Jimmy Snuka is deemed unfit to stand trial for the death of Nancy Argentino due to failing physical and mental health, and would be dead less than a year later. And any answers as to exactly what happened to Nancy died with Jimmy Snuka.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Vince McMahon is often portrayed as having a hand in a lot of the more shady practices of the WWE.
    • The Montreal Screwjob was Vince's idea, even if Jim Cornette offhandedly suggested it in a booking meeting.
    • It's implied that the reason that Jimmy Snuka's rumors of killing Nancy Argentino went away was because of a meeting between Snuka, McMahon and the Allentown police investigating the crime. There's also no transcript or recording of that meeting.
    • Owen Hart's family blames his death on Vince's negligence.
  • Heroic BSoD:
    • Chris Benoit following Eddie Guerrero's death. As Chris Jericho puts it, Benoit essentially became a hermit since.
    • Owen Hart's colleagues who were present during his fatal accident all recounted the event with obvious traumatic looks (e.g. D'Lo Brown and Jim Ross). While he's not interviewed, you can also see Jerry Lawler have this reaction in the aftermath, looking like he'd seen a ghost.
  • Honorary Uncle: David Benoit describes both Chris Jericho and Chavo Guerrero as such, as the two are the only friends of his late father who looked after him following the 2007 tragedy.
  • Hookers and Blow: What Herb Abrams spent his free time on. His last moments of life were spent naked (or only in his underwear) with two prostitutes and a mountain of cocaine. He even used this trope as a recruiting tool for a manager he ended up hiring.
  • Living Emotional Crutch:
    • Eddie Guerrero is painted this way for Chris Benoit. After Guerrero's untimely death in 2005, Chris was never the same. It's generally agreed upon that Eddie's death is a big part of why Chris committed the murder-suicide of his family in 2007, with Benoit's own journals confirming it. Though how much Eddie's death factors in when coupled with the multitude of injuries, drug abuse, and deaths of other friends of his (which certainly couldn't have helped) is something we'll never really know.
    • Vickie Guerrero describes Nancy Benoit this way. After Eddie's death, Vickie was understandably an emotional wreck, with Nancy stepping up to take care of things for Vickie. After about a week of this, Vickie describes Nancy almost literally throwing her into a shower, getting her kids ready, and taking her to lunch in an attempt to get Vickie out of her funk. Vickie clearly appreciated the effort, calling Nancy her "guardian angel".
  • Manly Tears: Considering the topics covered, expect to see male wrestlers, personalities and even relatives getting really emotional.
  • Never Speak Ill of the Dead: The reason why supporters of The Fabulous Moolah speak up regarding the controversy, stating she's no longer here to defend herself. Even Moolah's critics apply this, as they went out of their way to contain their anger.
  • No OSHA Compliance: The biggest factor in the death of Owen Hart. When the regular, safe stunt harness took too long to unhook for his Fall-On-His-Face entrance in rehearsal, he was given a different harness, with no backup line. Even worse, the release clip was designed for sail boats and only required five pounds of pressure to release. His widow Martha demonstrates this by locking it and releasing it with her thumb.
  • Once Done, Never Forgotten: David Schultz recounts how his career suffered due to not living down the slapping incident.
  • Outliving One's Offspring:
    • The Von Erich Family episode discusses how Fritz dealt with losing four of his five sons.
    • Gino Hernandez's surviving mother is shown still grieving for him.
    • After Chris Benoit's Pater Familicide, his father Michael had his brain checked for CTE.
    • Nancy Argentino's parents are wry on the very shady circumstances surrounding her death.
    • Owen Hart is the youngest of the Hart family, and clips of his funeral shows his elderly parents attending.
  • Overcrank: Several interspersed segments with actors are deliberately played in slow motion. They're also very blurry, with heavy light/dark contrasts in them.
  • Present Absence: Many episodes are about the legacies of dead wrestlers.
  • Promoted Fanboy: invoked A supplemental video on wrestling manager Jim Cornette paints him this way, showing his attic which is chock full of wrestling memorabilia. Cornette says that "if it's happened since the pioneer days in professional wrestling, I have documentation of it here in this room". Cornette shows off a book of promoter Sam Muchnick's programs, calling it his prized possession and admitting he'd grab it first and his wife second if their house was on fire.
  • Season Finale:
  • Sickening "Crunch!": Jim Ross describes the impact of Owen Hart's fatal fall as having a disturbing thud.
  • Surprisingly Happy Ending:
    • The two-part Chris Benoit episodes are overall grim, but it ends with Chris' eldest son David reconnecting with his aunt Sandra (Nancy's sister) thanks to Chris Jericho.
    • The Owen Hart episode episode shows that his family never got legit justice for his death, but they live their lives in a noble and fulfilling way to honor his memory.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Dino Bravo dies by multiple gunshots.
  • This Is Unforgivable!: Several interviewees on Chris Benoit over his Pater Familicide. Even Chris Jericho and Chavo Guerrero, who are sympathetic of Benoit, openly condemns him as a murderer.
  • Too Soon: Discussed. Jim Ross notes that the WWE ran a tribute show for Chris Benoit before they had all the facts, and only found out after the show was over that they'd run a tribute for a murderer. Ross defends the WWE by saying they didn't have at the facts at the time because the police hadn't released them yet.invoked
  • Un-person:
    • Besides erasing Chris Benoit from their programming, WWE basically tried to pretend that David Benoit didn't exist after the Murder-Suicide. David admits in an interview that he's still mad at WWE for it.
    • Subverted with Jimmy Snuka. He was removed from the WWE Hall of Fame after legal troubles began catching up to him, but after his death in 2017, he was quietly re-added to the Hall.
  • The Unsolved Mystery:
    • Who exactly killed Gorgeous Gino Hernandez is left up in the air. It's implied that Gino was Properly Paranoid and killed during a deal over money gone wrong, but there are a few unanswered questions.
    • Similarly, the murder of Dino Bravo is unlikely to be solved. Shot more than a dozen times, the case has plenty of questions and few answers. Bravo was killed in his recliner while watching a hockey game, with no forced entry found. Bravo seemed to know his killer(s) and either wasn't expecting to be killed or was resigned to his fate.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom:
    • Jim Cornette suggesting double-crossing Bret Hart was what led to the Montreal Screwjob. Cornette admits, years later, that he's responsible for the death of kayfabe (albeit entirely by accident), despite Cornette being one of its most passionate defenders. Once Cornette saw Shawn Michaels put Bret Hart in the sharpshooter submission hold, Cornette said "Screw This, I'm Outta Here!" and jumped into a car before he saw anything else go down.
    • Oddly, and by no means their fault in any way, Sting and WCW management. Owen Hart's descents from the rafters were designed as a comedic jab at Sting's heroic zip line entrances. This is why Owen would be humiliated when he did the stunt, such as being unmasked by Steve Blackman while simultaneously being unable to get his feet on the ground. The night he died, he was supposed to release himself about three feet above the ring and fall flat on his face. To WCW's credit, they always made sure Sting was rigged by professionals and that he was properly trained. As noted above, negligence by WWE management led to Owen's fatal fall.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: The saga of the Von Erich Family is presented as a constant game of "one step forward, two steps back" with success and tragedy. Just when it seems like the Von Erichs are starting to find success and put their tragedies behind them, something else will happen to cause even more heartache. It got to a point where the patriarch of the Von Erich family started pulling a gun on his own kids because he'd become mentally unable to deal with all the heartbreak anymore.
  • You Killed My Father: Owen Hart's widow and children openly resents WWE for their negligence that led to his death.


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