Through interviews and archival footage, Out in the Ring looks at the presence of LGBTQIA+ performers in wrestling through its history and current rosters.
From director Ryan Bruce Levey comes a first-time feature length documentary that is assured and confident in what it wants to achieve. The interviews shown here are personal, deep, and rooted in a real interest in the subject, wanting to show the history of an under-represented group within the wrestling world, a group who has been there within the performers since the start and a group who has been booed, made fun of, been the target of prejudice, and so much more while still raising the bar and giving excellent performances. The film also looks at the impart of previous performers who were out, or not so out in some case, on other performers that have come since them. There is a ton of information here and those interviewed answer with their hearts as much as their heads. This is the kind of documentary that may be one-sided in that it doesn’t give much of a view from the other side, but when the mainstream side has had most of the spotlight for so long, the minority needs to be given the time to speak their minds openly and without judgment, something this film does very well.
The interviewees here run the gamut of LGBTQIA+ wrestling performers, wrestling journalists, and historians. These folks know what they are talking about and are ready to be very open for the camera here. Some of the new interviews here that are of particular interest are with Susan “Tex” Green, Valerie Wyndham, Pollo Del Mar, and so many more. In archival footage, Pat Patterson’s impact is clearly shown and footage of early female wrestlers who had to hid their true selves is shown including China who is one even non-fans of the sport will recognize. There is a ton in here and ton of people got involved to clearly bring the message that the LGBTQIA+ community have always been here and will always be here.
The film has a slew of cinematography credited and these people really did great work filming all the brand new interviews shown here. The editing of the film keeps these interviews at the forefront and brings in the archival footage in a manner that works fantastically well for the viewers and the film itself. The editing here brings the film into a tight exercise in giving information and connecting the viewers with the very real people behind some of their favorite wrestlers.
Out in the Ring is a fantastic documentary for anyone interested in the history of wrestling, entertainment, and the LGBTQIA+ community. There is a lot in here and multiple watches may be necessary to process all of it.
Out in the Ring is set to have its world premiere at Toronto Inside Out 2SLGBTQ+ Film Festival on June 3rd, 2022.