1. The current WWE on-air product that we see on Mondays (Raw) and Fridays (Smackdown) is pretty rough to watch these days thanks to bad creative. The talent is excellent, but the story lines stink.
However, if you’re an old-school wrestling fan, these are the glory days when it comes to wrestling documentaries.
There are two docuseries running now that are both a must-watch for wrestling fans. Vice is currently in the middle of airing the third season of the outstanding Dark Side of the Ring, narrated by AEW’s Chris Jericho.
Dark Side of the Ring is not associated with the WWE in any way, so it explores topics outside of Vince McMahon’s company. The show also doesn’t have to worry about angering Vince McMahon, so it doesn’t sugarcoat anything.
If you’re a wrestling fan who is consumed with the real-life personas of wrestlers and backstage doings as much as the on-air product, you won’t be disappointed in Dark Side of the Ring.
The two-part episode on Brian Pillman to open Season 3, which detailed how Pillman would cross the line between work and shoot and revealed how Pillman pitted WWE against WCW in contract negotiations, was riveting.
This week’s episode on Jake “The Snake” Roberts and his wrestling family was shocking and disturbing, but it gave you amazing insight into one of the best heels ever.
Next week’s show, which will cover the career of Chyna, looks like another gem.
Dark Side of the Ring airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET.
On Sunday nights, A&E is currently airing Biography: WWE Legends. So far, this series has aired biographies of Stone Cold Steve Austin, Rowdy Roddy Piper, Macho Man Randy Savage, Booker T, Shawn Michaels, Ultimate Warrior and Mick Foley. Bret Hart will be the subject of this Sunday’s episode airing at 8 p.m ET.
While Dark Side of the Ring runs for an hour, A&E’s Biography goes for two hours and features interviews with key WWE figures, such as Vince McMahon, Shane McMahon and Paul Heyman.
Biography is a little more “friendly” than Dark Side of the Ring, so to speak, although Randy Savage and the Ultimate Warrior would not think that if they saw their episodes.
Ultimate Warrior prompted me to write about this today. Weirdly enough, Dark Side of the Ring and Biography both aired their Ultimate Warrior episodes last week, and I can’t recommend either of them enough. Both give thorough and detailed accounts of the Ultimate Warrior’s rise and fall and all his chaos in between. From demanding $550,000 from Vince McMahon before a match to changing his legal name to Warrior to his gibberish promos to becoming an extreme right-wing nut, each show was riveting from start to finish.
I had heard the story about the Ultimate Warrior telling Vince McMahon in a letter that he would bail on his 1991 SummerSlam match if he didn’t get treated like Hulk Hogan and get paid $550,000 for his WrestleMania match that year.
But the details each show provided on the incident was fascinating.
Here’s Vince’s initial response to Warrior’s demands.
And here’s Vince’s letter, in which he suspended the Warrior.
This stuff was more entertaining that anything the Warrior ever did on camera.
My only complaint about these two fantastic shows is that they are airing at the same time. It would’ve been nice if they were spread out over the summer.
2. The Blazers may have lost to the Nuggets last night, but Jusuf Nurkic's suit was a winner.
3. Kenny Smith does not get enough credit for being awesome on Inside the NBA. The way he busted Shaq's chops last night and called B.S. on O'Neal's story about his 2-year-old son telling him to win a game was classic. Smith kept pushing the issue, frustrating Shaq to the point where the Diesel got up and playfully hit Smith. So good.
4. It's not just athletes who have a thing for Instagram models, apparently. Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury wanted to make sure he impressed one lady so much that he reached out to Rams coach Sean McVey before a 2020 game to see if he could get a field pass for her.
5. Just leaving this here to provide a service for all Traina Thoughts readers.
6. A brand new Sports Illustrated Media Podcast dropped this morning, and it features two guests.
First up is ESPN's Doris Burke. The NBA analyst discusses the disturbing trend of disgusting fan behavior at games, whether the fans are too close to the players and how this was a concern for David Stern. Burke also talks about her bout with COVID-19 and having symptoms for nine months. Other topics discussed include whether the Nets are about to prove the NBA regular season is meaningless, whether calling the NBA Finals on television is a goal for her, still feeling resistance from men who don't want women broadcasting sports and much more.
Following Burke, Giants third baseman Evan Longoria joins the podcast to share his thoughts on Major League Baseball's unwritten rules. Do any unwritten rules make sense? Is throwing at a player rational retaliation? What do players feel about unwritten rules? Longoria also talks about getting into the trading card craze during the pandemic and what he enjoys about the hobby.
Here's a clip of the conversation with Longoria.
You can also watch the SI MEDIA PODCAST on YouTube
7. RANDOM VIDEO OF THE DAY: Evan Longoria and I talked about pitchers using foreign substances on this week's SI Media Podcast and we both recalled one of the greatest ejections ever.
Be sure to catch up on past editions of Traina Thoughts and check out the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast hosted by Jimmy Traina on Apple, Spotify or Stitcher. You can also follow Jimmy on Twitter and Instagram.