English wrestling has a long, proud tradition. There's been wrestling on various levels dating back to the 17th Century, and British studio and club wrestling was some of the most intense and impressive of the 20th century. Names like Jacky Pallo and Mick McManus might not mean anything to the average American wrestling fan, but they were huge figures in British wrestling. Billy Robinson was a massive figure who came out of the Wigan Snake Pit, the toughest training facility in the world.
Shoot - Grapple - Sell documents what is left of the traditional style of British wrestling, but does leave out an important aspect. That aspect is Zack Sabre, Jr.
This short doc follows what is today's British club wrestling. It is the spiritual ancestor of the wrestling we saw from the likes of Johnny Saint. It's more mat-based, less flashy,, and in a way, it is a more personal experience. It is from this world that is inhabited by the likes of old-timer Don Ritchie and the young up-start Alan Lee Travis. The story is, more or less, the tale of the conflict between the two of them and what it means to the world of English small-time wrestling. The story is told cleanly, with really nice cinematography, clean editing, and pitch-perfect sound. The music is great, selected with utter respect for the material, and the few interviews that take up much time are really solid. This is the story of the passion of the wrestlers, and it's never like we're being worked, convinced of something that isn't true as being the Truth.
Talking about British wrestling today without mentioning Sabre is a weakness. I get it, it's a view of a single group, but without him, it feels a bit myopic.
Klaus at Gunpoint
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