With segments on everyone from Chyna, Effy, Lisa Marie Varon and Nyla Rose to Chris Colt, Chris Kanyon, Pat Patterson, Valerie Wyndham, Dani Jordyn, Cassandro, Charlie Morgan, Sandy Parker, Sonny Kiss, Pollo Del Mar, Sue Green, Wade Keller and so many more, Out In the Ring explores the lives of LGBTQ professional wrestlers past and present, as well as the history of LGBTQ representation in professional wrestling.
By using the traditional modern talking head doc style of archival footage and interviews, this does a great job not only showing where pro wrestling was but where it’s going. I was really excited to see luchador and wrestling historian Vandal Drummond show up in this, as well as to see info on wrestlers of the past like “Exotic” Adrian Street and Austin Idol, as well as how the hypermasculine ideal of pro wrestling — hello, Road Warriors being Tom of Finland dreamboats — containing more than just CIS sexuality.
This is the first feature from director Ryan Bruce Levey, who has a huge subject to tackle in a short time. Wrestling in all ways has come so far — just look at the Raw segments with Lawler saying all sorts of anti-gay rhetoric and guys still lead these chants on shows I’ve been on — but still has so far to come, much like the rest of the world.
As someone who has wrestled independently since 1995, it’s been interesting to be a part of the way wrestling shifts and changes. Even in my own way, I’ve had to change, as while we used to do a podcast that made fun of homoerotic moments in wrestling’s past, I wonder now if people knew that we were doing that to make fun of the way that so much of wrestling pretends that it could never be queer? Regardless, I’m happy that people are finding a home within an entertainment genre that I love so much.
The only thing that makes me sad about this is that it places Sonny Kiss and Nyla Rose’s AEW success as a major step forward and now…neither gets hardly any TV time. Let’s change that too.
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