by Jacob Godwin (@Droppingbows)
“The Last of McGuinness,” is a documentary put together by Nigel McGuinness that documents his retirement tour from professional wrestling, however the heart of the documentary is the tale of a man who comes so close to achieving his dream only to have it taken away from him. This isn’t Hollywood, there is no fairy tale ending. We follow Nigel on his last journey as a professional wrestler. Nigel tells the tale of being offered a WWE contract, having the offer revoked, his time in TNA, and the events that brought that time to an end. We travel with Nigel on his journey to acceptance, acceptance that he will never reach his dream and therefore feels pro wrestling career failed and decides to end it. Along the way we meet others in the business. Nigel debates serious topics with his peers such as the business, injuries, the suicide epidemic, the blood debate, and along with that the damage internet “reporting” can do.
Overall, this is a must watch for any wrestling fan. Admittedly, it’s not easy at times, as you are watching a man deal the fact that he has failed achieve his dream, and as revealed early on, it’s largely no fault of his own. Nigel spends much of the documentary being righteously bitter and you find yourself cheering on others as they attempt to help him cope. Being that the events in the documentary take place around Christmas, you want so much for that Christmas miracle to happen, for Nigel to receive a letter, a phone call, hell a telegram, from WWE saying they’ve changed their minds and want to offer him a job. Unfortunately, this is real life, and Christmas miracles do not exist.
You may ask yourself, how can Nigel consider a career such as his a failure, At the risk of ruining my credibility, I’ll willingly admit that I didn’t know of Nigel McGuinness before his wrestling career in Ring of Honor was done. I’ve been a life long wrestling fan, but at that time had never found a way into watching the indies. Most of my friends, who were wrestling fans growing up turned out to largely be Attitude Era fans, my girlfriend at the time would mock me when I watched it, and the people I was living with at the time were never fans and were not interested. I didn’t go out of my way to watch professional wrestling. I had become the epitome of a casual wrestling fan. Also further risking my credibility, at the time I was a bigger fan of TNA than WWE, and watched its television product more. Needless to say, in 2009, when McGuinness debuted in TNA as Desmond Wolfe and began feuding with Kurt Angle he was a new wrestler in my eyes and quickly became a weekly highlight for me. Just having recently watched it again I can accurately say it’s something I still enjoy today. However, as we all know, Desmond Wolfe’s time in the spotlight at TNA was short. I won’t go into detail, because Nigel covers it throughout the documentary, but Change came to TNA at the beginning of 2010, and as we all know it hasn’t been the same since.
It wasn’t until late 2010-early 2011 I discovered Ring of Honor, and really saw what Nigel McGuinness could do, and I’ve been a megafan of his since then. So if this is the case, if I know of Nigel McGuinness, if I’ve spent hours of my life, watching his wrestling, his interviews, his documentary along with the extras DVD (which in total clocks in at approximately 4 hours), if all of this is true for me and thousands of others, how can this man consider himself a failure?
Nigel answers this quite bluntly in the documentary by saying, “Fuck you for caring!”
In a business that revolves around its fan base we as fans frequently forget that sometimes it’s not about us. When we leave the arena, turn off our televisions, these larger than life characters are just people trying to earn a living like you and me. Nigel’s dream was to be a WWE superstar, and while he was there make enough money off of wrestling to retire. Nigel realized that barring an interesting chain of events, that dream will never happen, even though he had proved he was good enough to be there. Nigel decided on his own to quit wrestling on his own terms, before wrestling forced him to quit. The casual wrestling fan will never know of his fantastic matches against his peers who achieved there dream such as though now known as Antonio Cesaro, Seth Rollins, and Daniel Bryan. The fact that’ve will not attain this level of success is what tears at Nigel throughout this documentary. When you are lying in bed at night,it’s not about what others think of you, it’s what you think of yourself.
Being that the events of this documentary ends before Nigel’s inner journey is over you are left wondering did Nigel ever reach acceptance. I feel in a large way he did. The only problem I have with his documentary is its title. While McGuinness may consider his wrestling days done, we certainly haven’t seen the last of Nigel, as he remains an important part of Ring of Honor as on screen matchmaker and occasional commentator. It is because of this I had the opportunity to meet Nigel, and personally buy this documentary from him.I talked to him briefly and watched as he interacted with others in the crowd. Nigel’s passion for pro wrestling has not faded. It’s clear he still loves the sport. Nigel has also become an advocate against intentional bleeding in wrestling, a controversial topic that probably makes just as many enemies as supporters. As I write this, Wrestling Cares a wrestling organization, he has been integrally involved in that gives back to non profit organizations just wrapped up its first year last night. It’s inspiring to see man continue to give so much to a business that gave up on him. I think it’s very fair to say we haven’t seen the last of McGuinness and I’m anticipating the next part of his journey.