Netflix has set the premiere date for a docuseries about the pro wrestling promotion Ohio Valley Wrestling, Variety has learned exclusively.
Titled “Wrestlers,” the show will debut on Netflix on Sept. 13. The series hails from director and executive producer Greg Whitely, who previously created the hit docuseries “Cheer” and “Last Chance U” for Netflix.
A trailer and first look images from the series can be seen below.
Ohio Valley Wrestling, or OVW, is based in Louisville, KY. It was originally an independent promotion until it became a developmental territory for the WWE. It has since returned to being independent, but not before future stars like Brock Lesnar, John Cena, Randy Orton, The Miz, Dave Bautista, and CM Punk passed through its doors.
The official synopsis states: “Once a proud finishing school for aspiring pro wrestlers, the gym has since hit hard times. Acclaimed wrestler Al Snow clings to an old school wrestling philosophy with a heavy emphasis on storytelling, but in spite of the love of a few diehard fans, the gym struggles week to week to stay relevant enough to keep its doors open. Things have become so dire financially that Al has to sell a majority stake to a group of local businessmen including Matt Jones, the most popular radio personality in the state of Kentucky. Matt and the new ownership group have infused the struggling gym with much-needed cash but it still operates at a staggering loss. The new owners have given Al the summer to turn things around. Wrestlers chronicles the efforts Al and his band of aspiring wrestlers make as they struggle with their personal ambitions and each other while they attempt to come together to save this historic gym.”
Snow is best known for his time in the WWE in the mid 1990s, where he famously carried a mannequin head dubbed “Head” to the ring with him. He was a multiple time Hardcore Champion during that time as well as a one-time tag team champion with Mick Foley and a one-time European champion. Outside of WWE and OVW, he has worked for promotions like ECW, TNA, and Smokey Mountain Wrestling in his career.
“Before filming ‘Wrestlers,’ our cinematographer had recently invested in a set of vintage Minolta Prime lenses from the early ‘80s,” Whitely said. “We loved their cinematic look and figured the aesthetics of the Minolta would be appropriate for the garish acts inside the ring. But moving to these lenses made the job of our camera operators much more difficult. If they wanted a close-up, they had to physically approach the subject. Our fear was that the wrestlers might begin to edit themselves in more sensitive moments — but that’s not what happened. Ironically, filming this group of fake wrestlers is perhaps the most uncompromisingly real thing we’ve ever filmed. It was as if this little gym tucked away in Kentucky and the vintage Minolta lenses were trapped in the same era — working together to not be forgotten.”
Along with Whitely, Ryan O’Dowd serves as an executive producer via BBC Studios. The show is produced by BBC Studios Los Angeles. O’Dowd is also the executive vice president of entertainment & music for BBC Studios Los Angeles Productions.
“We’re thrilled to be partnering with Netflix to premiere our second docuseries together from our Los Angeles production arm, following up on our true crime break-out hit ‘Murder Among the Mormons,’” said O’Dowd and Valerie Bruce, general manager of BBC Studios Los Angeles Productions. “‘Wrestlers’ represents a bold, powerful and immersive new addition to our growing unscripted business. This series would not have been possible without the incredible support we received from the city of Louisville, where wrestling is a prized local tradition and the home of Ohio Valley Wrestling for the past three decades.”
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