Documentaries on pro wrestling have become common place over the last several years, but it sometimes feels rare to find one that truly stands out from the pack and is worth the time and investment to watch. The Wrestler: A Q.T. Marshall Story does just that. Following the up and down career of Michael Cuellari (Marshall), director Frank Zarrillo has given fans a true behind the scenes look at the sacrifice independent wrestlers make across the country in trying to balance dreams and aspirations with reality.
Today, wrestling fans will know Marshall from his current role with All Elite Wrestling. Signing with AEW in 2019, Marshall has found himself alongside some of the top names in the company, including Cody and Dustin Rhodes. He also serves as an associate producer behind the scenes.
However, during the time period in which The Wrestler was filmed, Marshall had recently been working for Ring of Honor Wrestling, while making spot appearances at Impact Wrestling and WWE, and training aspiring students like Matt Riddle and Luis Martinez (NXT's Damian Priest) at the Monster Factor wrestling school in New Jersey.
Reaching his 30th birthday, Marshall's yearning for one final shot at an opportunity with WWE is the backdrop of the documentary. Working for his step-father's Snap-On tools company full time while continuing to work toward his wrestling dreams, we see the emotional toll that the wrestling lifestyle and constant working and traveling (for little money) can take on a man, as well as his family.
One of the highlights of the film features WWE talent scout Gerald Brisco coming to the Monster Factory. We see Marshall preparing for what could be one of his final opportunities to impress a representative from WWE, as well as his leadership in preparing his class for that opportunity (including a young Matt Riddle, who definitely wows Brisco in the process).
The climax of the film revolves around the opportunity for a final WWE tryout in Florida, as well as the reality setting-in that his wrestling dream's could be running on fumes. In particular, a scene featuring Marshall, his wife, and mother having a deep conversation on the prospects of where his dreams are headed (and possibly not headed) is an emotional viewing experience.
The film closes with Marshall's role now in running the One Fall Power Factor in Georgia. When the documentary was first released (winning best documentary at the 2017 San Diego Comic-Con Film Festival), he had not yet signed with AEW so that is not covered.
There have been widely released documentaries before that tell the story of independent wrestlers in a meaningful way. Beyond The Mat and MTV's True Life: I'm A Pro Wrestler come to mind right off the bat, and there are several others as well. However, these projects often times intertwined the lives of the independent wrestlers with bigger names from WWE's past and present. The Wrestler is a feature length film built solely on the independent wrestling world, making it a more fleshed out version of what we have seen snippets of in the past.0comments
Anyone with an interest in the real life costs involved with becoming a success in the wrestling industry will surely enjoy this film. Frankly, this being a well-told story about dreams, dedication, and sacrifice, it is a film that most everyone will be able to relate to and have an appreciation for.
Simply put, The Wrestler: A Q.T. Marshall Story is one of the best independently produced wrestling documentaries I have seen to date, and I give it my highest recommendation. You can purchase or rent the film on Amazon. More information is also available on the film's official website.