By Grace Hamilton, Opinions & Editorials Editor
It’s official: I’m a fan of wrestling.
To be clear, I’m now a fan of Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW), and it’s all because of Wrestlers, the OVW docu series now streaming on Netflix. I’ve been converted, I’ve been brainwashed and the transition is final.
Spanning seven hour-long episodes, Wrestlers introduces us to the many faces of OVW and the struggles it has gone through just to survive across the river in Ky.
Run by Al Snow, a former professional wrestler for the WWE, OVW is one of the only wrestling leagues left outside of the WWE. This comes with its setbacks, however, as they certainly don’t have the budget to maintain the high-level production required for the kind of show wrestling is known to provide.
I’ve always known wrestling is fake. I used to hold this fact against it but Wrestlers, and the wrestlers of OVW know that you know it’s smoke and mirrors. That’s the whole point. Truly, OVW is about the power of storytelling.
“One thing we’re trying to convince the audience of is that a win or loss has gravity,” Snow said. It’s not about who’s actually getting punched or who’s leaving the ring with a broken nose and bruised knuckles — it’s about the story of the fight itself. In every fight, according to Wrestlers, there is a babyface and there is a heel. It’s a classic story of good versus evil. In a way, Wrestlers is also a story of good versus evil.
OVW struggles with their finances. At one point in the series, they say they are losing $30,000 a month. They have difficulties paying their wrestlers, making ends meet and drawing in crowds through their weekly broadcasting. Because of this, Matt Jones and Craig Greenberg step in as co-owners — and essentially sole investors. Jones is known as a radio host in Ky., and Greenberg is the mayor of Louisville.
While I think the two of them have decent ideas about promoting OVW and actually bringing in a profit, I can’t stand Jones. He’s so self-involved and egotistic without seeming to actually understand the people of OVW and what they are passionate about.
Al Snow works hard to create storylines that people want to follow, and he knows what he’s talking about after years in the business. The wrestlers of OVW trust him, and the fact that Jones and Greenberg constantly talk about Snow as if he’s this symbol of an old way that’s totally washed up and out of touch is ridiculous. Snow is wrong about television, sure — no one’s going to watch pay-per-view. But Snow knows the performers. He knows the crowds and he knows that while the fighting is fake, the feelings that people get while watching it are real, and the way the performers feel is real.
Jones views himself as OVW’s saving grace, even though he’s not. And could he also please CLEAR HIS THROAT.
Aside from my personal issues with Jones — and this is a slight spoiler — I do hope he’s doing well after his seizure in episode three. I hope that he’s doing well and that they are under control.
In terms of OVW, however, he needs to understand the people and the community that he’s working with. A review from the New York Times describes Wrestlers and the tension between Jones and Snow as “a conflict outside the ring that turns into a battle for the soul of OVW.”
That’s exactly the point — Jones doesn’t see the OVW as having any soul at all, when the reality is that every wrestler gets into the ring and performs with their entire soul because it matters to them. When Jones tells people at OVW that they need to “earn their keep” and prove that they deserve to keep working there, it becomes obvious that there is no soul in the way he operates within OVW.
Before watching this docuseries, I had negative opinions about wrestling and hardly ever thought about it. But now, I’m deeply invested in the future of OVW, and I’m even more invested in Matt Jones keeping his nose out of Al Snow’s business.