Welcome to The Wrestling Review Corner. Continuing with my look at documentaries, I’m going to give a few thoughts on a great one I saw the other night for the first time: The Fit Finlays.
It’s a revealing, engaging, highly emotional film which looks at the career of Dave Finlay, world famous Northern Irish professional wrestler. Despite only running for just under an hour, it gives you a real insight into his lineage, his trials and tribulations and his impact on the business. From the troubles with conflict which surrounded him as a child, to the struggles with alcohol that did as an adult. The film explores some of the most common themes that often crop up in wrestling documentaries: how difficult it is to balance a family life with one working on the road, and the damage the business can do physically and mentally to a person.
I would say this is a true education on the man’s life and career. Despite being a big fan of him as Finlay, in a successful swansong run in WWE, I didn’t know a whole lot about his earlier career or personal life. I learned a whole lot about that from this film. His wife is German (he met her while working over there honing his craft, as so many greats of the past have done), and they both now live in Georgia with their son, who is an aspiring wrestler himself. His father is also called Dave and was also a pro wrestler. He was the man who trained Finlay and first introduced him to the ring as a teenager. Seeing how he grew up, it was hard not to compare him to Eddie Guerrero. No wonder these guys turned out to be so high class in the ring!
You get to see a lot of the legends of the Northern Ireland scene, who helped Finlay grow to become the star that he was. My personal favourite of these was a guy they used to bill as Rasputin “The Mad Monk”, he was a legend! After that evolution had been completed, and after working elsewhere internationally, he found himself in the US. He had success in WCW, a company I never knew he’d worked for. However, the party lifestyle was getting to be too much for him after a while. Luckily, unlike most other guys, having a child changed his life for the better. In his own words, he “slowed down on the drinking” and began to adapt to his new responsibility. Sometimes having a child can save your life.
As these documentaries often so eloquently show, it isn’t just the things wrestler consume which cause them big problems. The physical side of wrestling is not be taken lightly, in terms of it’s corrosive nature. Dave’s career low was during his run in WCW, when he went through a table and ended up getting 330 stitches in his leg. This put him out of the business for four years, and the medical staff doubted that he would even walk again initially.
He did, and not only that, he wrestled again. He went on to evolve even further and introduce himself to millions of new wrestling fans who may not have even previously been aware of his existence, myself included. Dave summed up his career perfectly at the end of the film, when he described the lights and the grandeur of Wrestlemania. He poignantly compared the difference between wrestling as a teenager in Northern Ireland with one solitary light bulb above the ring, and coming out at Wrestlemania on the biggest stage imaginable.
Finlay now works as a road agent, helping along the current crop of superstars in WWE. He had a great career which spanned multiple decades. Like most others, it had it’s highs and lows. This film does a great job of telling you that interesting story, while teaching you about a man you probably only thought you knew. I would recommend it to any fan.
Thanks for reading,