The Last of McGuinness: Looking Forwards, By Glancing Back
This photo to the left is how I will always remember Nigel. Gritty, honest, and a Pure Champion. I first became aware of Nigel McGuinness on November 1st, 2003 when he teamed with Xavier to take on another team of “pure” wrestlers, John Walters & Tony Mamaluke. From that point on, Nigel caught my eye. His signature bleach blonde near-liberty spiked hair caught my attention first, followed by his wrestling. He was doing a style of wrestling I was almost completely different from what I was used to. But this isn’t about my memories. This is about his. Nigel McGuinness was taken from the wrestling ring under mysterious circumstances more than two years ago. During this time, I often wondered what happened to my hero. What happened to the man that I flew nearly 10 hours for to see him in Chicago in what was then supposed to be one of the last times we would see him or Bryan Danielson in ROH. Truth be told, I didn’t go to see the now Daniel Bryan. I flew over because of Nigel McGuinness. Daniel Bryan had come over to California many times for different promotions, but Nigel essentially had only ever come over for PWG’s Battle of Los Angeles, and he hadn’t done that since 2008. This was for me, a now or never situation.
But as I said, this isn’t about my thoughts or memories. This is about how one of my heroes took a bow and has left behind his in ring career, possibly for good. Nigel had been in Impact Wrestling at the time as Desmond Wolfe and having matches with guys like Kurt Angle, Samoa Joe, Daniels, and many others. But it all ended abruptly and without true answers. There were rumors going around and of course a lot of it, mere conjecture. There were some who I spoke with who said they knew, and to their credit they may or may not have. But I didn’t want to hear it second hand. I wanted to know straight from the source, from the man I respected.
It was March 7th that Nigel announced the project on Kickstarter, and I instantly donated what money I could spare for the project. Looking back, it’s probably some of the best money I’ve spent all year long because this past Thursday, The Last of McGuinness DVD came in the mail. I had already seen it on Vimeo because of my donation, but I didn’t really want to post a review of it until I could see it again. Getting a chance to see a project like this come to fruition has been very rewarding.
I want to get some things out of the way first. When you read through the credits, you will see all the hats that Nigel had to take on for this project from directing, editing, writing, and everything else ad nauseum. It’s clear that this was a labor of love. I will first put out some of the small things such as the editing could be polished a bit more. His time spent in England during his retirement tour was shown and while I could understand the value that was being told, it felt choppy and at times felt like a rinse, repeat situation with just a different promotion in a different city. But perhaps that was the point. At other times it felt as if I was merely watching someone be a downer and almost too humble about their career and the amount of time they had spent trying to perfect their craft. But this film after all is about a humbling experience, about failure, and about perspective.
Now that I’ve gotten that out, we can focus on the heart, the true nature of this film from my perspective. It’s about hope. While Nigel is talking, and at times almost too honestly, about what he felt of his failures within the wrestling business, you can feel the true depth of despair he was feeling. The moment entitled “breakdown” in the menu truly shows the depths of anger and anguish that Nigel felt for not being able to achieve his dream and make it to the WWE like a few of his friends had before and after him. I have to admit, watching that scene was almost too much. It made my stomach curl and while I can understand that possibly it was meant to, it felt almost too late. It felt as if we had almost seen too much up to that point to be taken down again. But that’s what Nigel felt, and we were allowed to experience that with him. Brutally honest and showing emotions that most only show when they are alone, Nigel allowed us a mere glimpse of a pain that many can understand, but that few are willing to put out into the public eye.
Through about 90 plus minutes, Nigel takes us on a roller coaster ride giving us the highs of his career such as winning the ROH title and watching his friends achieve tremendous heights in their careers, to showing us the lows of some individuals that clearly did not understand the impact of their actions. The film also lets us in on the reason that Nigel was taken from us so abruptly. It’s something that is personal and obviously something that Nigel is taking seriously as shown by Final Battle 2012 by what we did see, and more importantly, by what we didn’t see. If you buy this DVD, you’ll understand what Nigel went through as well. I won’t be revealing it as I feel it would be disrespectful to Nigel and to the over a thousand other people who donated to the project to do so. But I will say this, it was almost a relief to finally find out what had happened. (For those of you who have seen it or heard or read what it was, please do not post it in the comment section. Thank you)
What Nigel is attempting to do though with this documentary is to send out a message. An altruistic message about a business he loves where the craft has to change in order for there to be something to remember. While Nigel is steadfast in his beliefs that any participant in this sport should be tested for blood related illnessâ€™, he clearly shows a level headed understanding that it can, and most likely will, take a while for the business to catch up. But he would rather be at the forefront of that movement than see any more tragedies take place. The message he puts forth is simple. Be safe. Be healthy. Not just for yourself, but for the person or persons standing across the ring from you as their future is also in your hands. A lesson perhaps too often ignored. It is Nigelâ€™s hope at the end of this documentary to not only share his story, but to shed light on a subject and to create a positive from the. That is what this documentary is about. It is about hope.
While I could continue on and on about my feelings over this film, there is the ultimate question here to answer. Should you buy it? I unabashedly say yes and give this documentary a thumbs up. Not only for a wrestling fan, but for any film fan out there, or any person who has had a dream and known the hurt of defeat. As a wrestling fan, you’ll gain insight into one of the best wrestlers of the past ten years, in my opinion. As a film fan, you’ll see someone give their all to a project and see their stumbles and mistakes but see the talent that could be brought out with more refinement of the craft. And as a person, you’ll see struggle, vice, regret, hurt, growth, and a strength born of sorrow that is as unique as its harbinger but, as resounding and understandable as anything in the human condition.
You can purchase a copy by going toÂ http://www.nigelwrestling.com/ but I would be quick about it, as there is most likely going to be a limited supply. Feel free to talk with me on twitter by clicking the button below or shoot me an email at [email protected]