Film Review: The Wrestling Road Diaries Too

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“You’ve got two buses: the happy bus or the sad bus. Let’s get on the happy bus! It’s so much more fun over there, everybody is smiling, we’re loving life, we’re loving wrestling. Join me on the happy bus!”– Colt Cabana

Professional wrestling documentaries often find themselves firmly buckled into “the sad bus.” They spend their time focusing on all the negative aspects of wrestling: drugs, death, political and personal betrayals, financial ruin, etc. While much of these occurrences are documented facts, we rarely are shown the other of the coin. It’s always the negative that wins out in the end, and more often than not, the audience is left with a feeling of near depression and just utter disgust.

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Colt Cabana’s latest documentary, The Wrestling Road Diaries Too, has made the conscious decision to take “the happy bus approach” to the wrestling documentary drama. It documents the lives of three men who are in utter love with professional wrestling despite having their dreams of a lengthy career in the WWE dashed. Yes, while this documentary does focus on the positive, it does not shy away from stone cold reality either. In fact, it tackles them head on. This engagement with reality makes The Wrestling Road Diaries Too an agenda-less documentary — it’s main goal is to show you the true life of three men who travel the roads of small-town America plying their trade and the adventures, both good and bad, they experience along the way. It’s a touching, often hilarious, but most importantly an honest look at a world rarely discussed by the mainstream.

The film follows three former WWE Superstars Colt “Boom Boom” Cabana, “Mr. 1859” Cliff Compton (former WWE Tag Team Champion Domino), and The Big LG (who has gone by D.O.C. in TNA as well as Luke Gallows, Festus and even the fake Kane in WWE) on a road trip through the Midwest wrestling on small, independent shows in the middle of literally nowhere.

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The chemistry the three men have is absolutely infectious. They’re brothers in arms who love talking shop, busting balls, and in the end taking care of each other. It’s this last part that is the true emotional core the film as LG filmed the entire documentary and competed in matches with a severely torn groin muscle. Seeing Compton and Cabana, racked with pain throughout (both physical and emotional), rally around their injured brother and seeing LG gut through the pain in order to “make the towns” like a true wrestler would really strikes an emotional chord. We often see wrestlers as these giants among men, that even when injured, we still don’t take into consideration that these guys are human beings with things on the line when they’re injured. Yet, in this movie, all this is put on the table for us in a very real, unflinching way, and it’s something a wrestling fan has to actually confront. Ultimately, you end up having more respect for these wrestlers than you did before the movie started.

Keeping up with the emotional aspect of the film, Compton and LG really come off awesome here. These days Cliff Compton is known more for his Andrew “Dice” Clay-esque persona and his trademark “Time to Die!” war cry. His in-ring persona comes off brash and way too rough around the edges, but in the film we really dive into what makes the man tick. He gives a wonderful monologue in the film about making his father proud of when we he wrestled in his hometown arena, the Nassau Coliseum. You can also see the tears welling up in his eyes, and man, if you can’t relate to this guy, root for this guy and get behind this guy after that, you may not even have a heart.

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As for LG, also referred to by his real name Drew Hankinson, you don’t get as personal a tale, but you do begin to learn about his old school mentality of making towns and being a man. You hear his fire and passion about working the independent scene and legitimately loving it, and you hear about his love for his son and how he works hard to provide his son with everything he needs by sacrificing his body week in and week out. Again, how can you not get behind a guy like this?

Yet, it’s not all monologues and soliloquies for LG and Cliff. They are two of the main culprits for the hilarity and mayhem that unfolds throughout the film. Compton shows off his penchant for profanity as well as his ability to not being able to open a hotel door with a keycard in one of the film’s funnier moments. Yet, it’s Hankinson/LG who shines when it comes to the comedy. He’s a man of a million voices. Whether it be his affected ring announcer voice or his now-famous “Good Brother” character, he keeps you laughing constantly. The Good Brother character, based on his many run-ins with the shady old timey Southern wrestlers from his youth, literally had this reviewer in tears. One day, someone out there will discover just how funny and talented this guy really is and make millions of people laugh.

Speaking of laughter and a spirit of joviality, Colt Cabana comes off like an absolute star here. His love of wrestling knows no bounds and it just naturally exudes from him when he’s in front of a crowd, even if it’s in front of 100 people in a VFW hall in the Midwest. He’s honest about his disappointing WWE run and how it nearly drove him to leave his beloved profession. But in the end, his passion (for wrestling and for the people) kept him going. As the producer of the film, Cabana does the smart thing and minimizes his onscreen interviews and almost plays the straight man to Compton and Hankinson. But, being the brothers they are, these two paint this picture of Cabana that makes you love the guy even more than fans already do, which is a pretty amazing feet if you ask me.

The Wrestling Road Diaries Too is a fantastic wrestling documentary that allows you, the fan, and even the non-wrestling fan, to board “the happy bus” and ride down the road that is professional wrestling. It’s a road filled with heartbreak and injury, but it’s also a road filled with laughter, love and a neon green spandex. Is it a must-have for wrestling fans? Absolutely. Is this a must-watch for documentary junkies? You better believe it. This is one of the most entertaining wrestling experiences you’ll catch on DVD for sure good brother.

The Wrestling Road Diaries Too can be purchased at its official website or at Colt Cabana’s official merch site which also features tons of cool t-shirts, posters, buttons and DVDs.

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Bill Bodkin is the gray bearded owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, he is lucky husband, and proud father to a beautiful daughter named Sophie. He can be seen regularly on the site reviewing The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and is the host of the site's podcast, The BreakCast. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites