The Wrestler: A Q.T. Marshall Story is a sobering look at not just one man’s journey through high and lows but at the tumultuous nature of the wrestling industry as a whole.
To fans of AEW, Q.T. Marshall will be best recognised as the tag team partner of Dustin Rhodes and a member of the Nightmare Family. Beyond that it would be sad but understandable if most knew little to nothing of the man’s 16-year career. That’s where this documentary comes into play.
From the opening montage set to the sound of various wrestlers and industry professionals discussing Marshall, it is clear that this is a film that won’t be pulling any punches. It lays the fact that Marshall had not achieved the greatness he once expected out plain for all to see. The blame for that failure isn’t passed along to anyone else either, with both Marshall and his peers laying the fault squarely at his door for the most part. It makes for an eye opening and poignant look at a man that most hadn’t heard of before AEW came to town.
Frank Zarrillo, the creative mind behind this project, plunges us straight in to the honestly bleak world of Marshall’s wrestling existence before getting his big break. We see God’s Gift serving as a trainer for the world-renowned Monster Factory wrestling school, helping out familiar albeit far younger looking faces such as Matt Riddle and Punishment Martinez. He is also hard at work getting himself in shape for an upcoming visit from Gerald Brisco on behalf of the WWE. This the crux of the story for much of the documentary.
In preparation for the huge opportunity to impress a WWE scout and finally land that big deal, Marshall can be seen giving it his all both in the ring and in the gym. He speaks about his struggles with weight and motivation and how he has turned that around by fully applying himself to eating healthy and working hard. It is not through this that Zarrillo allows the audience to form their attachment to Marshall however, instead letting his candid nature and relationships with his family do that job.
We learn that Marshall has no issue telling it as he sees it. Whether that be saying how much he hates his side job at his stepfather’s company or critiquing the work of the youngsters training under him. His brutal honestly is actually rather refreshing and it immediately turns him into one of the more worthwhile guys to listen to in the business. That honesty is clearly an inherited trait from his mum as she doesn’t spare his feelings when telling him that maybe it’s time to hang the boots up and look at more realistic career options.
In fact, his wife joins in with that too. Clearly concerned about the future of her family, it is entirely understandable that she questions his dedication to a profession that has given him so little in return. It is interesting to see this dynamic play out as most wrestling documentaries bring on the family of the performer in order to get those big emotional shots of tears when they succeed. This goes the opposite route entirely and it makes everything feel so much more real.
Add to that the fact that Danny Cage, owner of the Monster Factory, admits openly that Marshall squandered a previous opportunity with Ring of Honor because he was looking past it to WWE and not thinking of how to be the best there, and you have a complete look at the trial and tribulations of Q.T.
Whilst there are undeniable high notes, these tend to serve only as a counterpoint to the crushing lows that fill the hour plus run time. This is not a knock, in fact it’s what makes this such compelling viewing. You’re rooting for the underdog so much that you feel genuine elation when something goes right for a man who just wants to do what he loves. We all know the pain of being stuck in a job we don’t like and we don’t want that to happen to such a gifted performer.
Overall, it is not hard to see why this film won Best Documentary at the San Diego Comic-Con International Film Festival. It is touching when it needs to be and shines a light on the stark reality of a business that can often times seem overly glamorous to those not in the know. I’d recommend watching this whether you are a fan of Q.T. Marshall or not.
The Wrestler: A Q.T Marshall Story is available to watch right now on Amazon Prime Video.
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