The second half of Dark Side of the Ring's third season premieres this Thursday on VICE TV, with the first episode diving into the infamous "Plane Ride From Hell" involving a number of WWE stars from back in 2002. Other upcoming episodes cover Chris Kanyon, Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling, Johnny K9, Luna Vachon and XPW, followed by the season finale covering the United States v. McMahon court case — better known as WWE's Steroid Trials. The series creators Evan Husney and Jason Eisener spoke with ComicBook ahead of the series' return and shed some light on what fans can expect with these episodes, starting with the Plane Ride From Hell.
"Yeah, it's really interesting," Husney said. "Since the beginning of the show, it's been any time we've interfaced with friends, family, or fans, it's always been when are doing the Plane Ride From Hell? It's always been at the forefront of an episode suggestion and truth be told, I think that the knowledge of what's out there about the events that took place on that ill-fated flight is I think for us always been us trying to wrap our heads around how it could be an episode. Where's the human angle? Where's that quality that's going to transcend it beyond just a party gone crazy in the sky?
"And so, we always put it off, but the demand was so overwhelming for it, but once we started to dig into researching it and talking to some people who were on the flight, man, it was really eyeopening," he continued. "And that story, that real Dark Side of the Ring human story really did start to emerge from it. And I do think that for us, I think, yeah. It really surprised us in terms of how well it sort of came together as a story. But I think it's definitely going to be a conversation, water cooler moment in the wrestling sphere when this thing drops next week."
Check out the full interview with Husney and Eisener below!
During the break between the first and second half, WWE announced it and Blumhouse would be creating a series based on The Steroid Trials, which is the same topic as your season finale. Knowing that WWE will be directly involved, how different do you think that series will be from your episode?
Husney: It's really interesting, I don't know. I mean, I think that the project they've announced is just in development. So, it's probably pretty early on in the stages of the process of putting that project together. But I think it's going to be interesting. One of the main voices in our episode that you will see is Jerry McDevitt, who was Vince McMahon's/Titan Sport's, he was the defense attorney during the '94 Steroid Trial.
And the outcome of that trial is Vince and the WWE won. So, it'll be really interesting to see what differences there are along the way. It's a really fascinating story and I think one of the things about it that intrigued us, we've always tried to get a Steroid Trials episode off the ground ever since the very beginning of the series, but what's really fascinated us about it is that it really is a wrestling angle in the courtroom. That's how it plays out. And we're always fascinated by how real life and wrestling intertwine and this is one of those. It's a really entertaining look into that, into how the outside world doesn't understand wrestling and how all the wrestlers bring the wrestling antics and trade secrets into the courtroom. So, it's going to be a pretty fascinating show.
Between you guys, Young Rock, Heels, Chris Hemsworth's Hulk Hogan movie and the Vince McMahon documentaries, it seems like there's this sudden explosion of shows and films connected to the wrestling business. Why do you think that is?
Husney: It wasn't always that way. When we started trying to get this show off the ground or we've talked about in the past, we wanted to do our own scripted version of the wrestling world from back in the territory era. And we always found that the industry or Hollywood or whatever, wasn't interested at all in wrestling storytelling. It would put a lot of these executives to sleep as soon as you brought up wrestling. So I think for us, it's a little vindicating in that here our show comes out a handful of years ago. And it seems to be at the forefront of a lot of this sort of wrestling, this Renaissance that wrestling continually has too over the course of the years.
Eisener: I think too or at least from my case, when I first started making this show, there were people around me that helped me in my professional life who probably thought, going into making a documentary series about wrestling at that time, thought that was a weird career move for me to do, but now the show is now on its third season and like you said, there's all these other shows being made now and it is a bit vindicating because I feel like we've just been banging on doors for the past seven or eight years telling people and executives that there are amazing stories in this world. Anyone can relate to these stories. Wrestling's just a crazy backdrop. It puts the pressure on all of it, but anyone can relate to what these wrestlers are going through.
CM Punk gave you guys a shoutout on last week's AEW Dynamite by recognizing Linda Pillman at ringside, and he's got quite an interesting story to tell. Now that he's back in the wrestling world, could his WWE departure be its own episode?
Hunsey: Man, I don't know. It is an interesting story. It's one that comes up a lot in terms of when you're talking about fan suggestions. I mean, fans love CM Punk and that was absolutely evident over this past month. And so, that suggestion does come up a lot in terms of what our fanbase wants to hear and see. I mean, I think it would be fascinating. I would love, in some capacity, to get CM Punk in front of our cameras. I think he's an incredible interview. He's an unbelievable talker. And it's like him coming back into the industry and coming back into wrestling over this past month, I've been feeling that fire of being a wrestling fan again.
And even though my day job is all about wrestling, sometimes you don't always look at it through the lens of being a fan still just because you deal with it so much in your daily life, but there's been that inertia that. I'm getting caught up in it and it's been really exciting to see what he's been doing and that match he had on Sunday (against Darby Allin at All Out) was absolutely fantastic. It felt like wrestling again. So, yeah. If he's down, I'm down and anything. Anything he wants to do at this point.
Eisener: Oh, I'm the same. I feel there's hopefully still many more years for his career to come, but I think it'd be awesome. I'm not sure what the subject would be yet, but to have him on the show would be great. He's amazing. And seeing him putting over Aunt Linda on AEW last night, it was so cool. And yeah. Him putting our show over, it was cool.
Husney: My whole dream out of [The Brian Pillman] episode was I just thought in my mind, I remember when we premiered the Pillman episode or leading just up to it, I was like, "I really hope this does really well for Brian (Pillman) Jr. I hope that, but I also hope Linda gets the walk, come to the ring with Brian. She's the manager," or she's part of the story because she's so over out of that episode and then to see her get that shout out and that love and people chanting, "Linda," was, I mean you couldn't have dreamed. And for us, also for us, for Dark Side to be sort of part of that culture in that way, it's just super humbling and amazing. Something I never would've thought of three years ago.
Playing off of that, how do you feel about the role Dark Side of the Ring has taken on in the culture of pro wrestling?
Husney: Well I think for me and for the show, I think even out of the gate when we had established Dark Side of the Ring as the name of the show, we were a little hesitant at first. We really needed a name for the show and we were running out of time, but I think when we settled on that, it was...It's a name you remember, but at the same time we were worried we didn't want it just to be too limiting to be like, "Okay, we're just exploiting tragedies now," and that. We really wanted because that's not really what we're about in terms of storytelling. We really wanted our show to be an empathetic look at what wrestlers and family members have gone through and hopefully this can be a platform for good and hopefully it can inspire people and people can learn things from these stories and it's not just all about the darkness.
And as we move forward out of season three, if there is a season four, we have to think about maybe broadening that spectrum as well. But to us, we never would have dreamed it. When we were just doing the Brody episode and putting this together, we never would've thought that this could be bringing families closer together and it could be spotlighting unsung heroes like Linda and things like that.
And we see it with Nick Gage's career too, in a totally other capacity. We're seeing Nick Gage wrestling our narrator (Chris Jericho) live on television. Again, we're sort of seeing the power of this platform and it is humbling to us and it's something we have to check ourselves with too as it grows. So, yeah. It's been a wild ride for sure.0comments
Eisener: Yeah. I love to see it. Like Evan said, I never would have thought that our show could have that kind of reach or influence in that way, but yeah. We see Nick Gage show up and see what's happening with Brian Pillman Jr. And they had Jake Roberts on there as well too. And maybe people are seeing in our show it's what we love in wrestling, is we love the performers that are just so authentic and those episodes, it's really come through and Nick Gage, Brian Pillman, Jake Roberts. They're just so authentic and people take to them. And so, it's cool to see that transition too, AEW and people are watching our episodes and learning about who the person is and the character. And then I know I have friends who watch our episodes and weren't wrestling fans and now they've watched the show, it's made them go and watch AEW and they're following these people's careers now because they were so invested from seeing the show.
Dark Side of the Ring returns to Vice TV at 6 p.m. ET on Thursday ngiht.