Kyle had the pleasure of sitting down the Evan Husney and Jason Eisner, the producers of the Dark Side of the Ring documentary series that is available now on Viceland. The content below is a transcription of some of the interview.
On how the project came together
“Well basically the genesis of it is that Jason and I (Evan) became friends around our love of wrestling about 10 years ago or so. Jason is a feature film director, he made the film “Hobo with a Shotgun”, and I was in film distribution at the time and I eventually made the jump over to Vice. I was producing short form content, 20 minute documentaries, and was eventually doing stuff for Viceland. The whole time we were getting back into wrestling together not only looking at the current product, but looking back at the territory era and going back to 80’s wrestling in Japan and a lot of the stuff we totally missed as kids. Bruiser Brody was part of that rediscovering of this insanely captivating, legendary wrestler that wasn’t known about as we were kids. And then we got into the story of his passing and that intrigued us even more.
We wanted to make the Bruiser Brody story into a doc and it proved to be too ambitious for my department at the time I was working at VICE. Then the TV network popped up and they were accepting pitches and ideas. And we put together as a series. So we thought Brody could be one of them and we could a couple others and it went really well with everyone over there.”
What sets Dark Side of the ring apart
“With the Montreal screwjob story, we’re huge fans of Wrestling With Shadows and the way we engineered the full series, obviously we’re hardcore wreslting fans, we’ve been fans our whole lives. We wanted to engineer this series to be accessible to people that aren’t fans of wrestling. What we wanted to do for a new generation to show just how dynamic and itnerestin and singular and bizzarree the world of wrestling is. Almost like, this is the type of wrestling show a fan can show their friends or significant others to help them understand the thing that you love.” – Evan
“Those are always some of our favorite compliments is when wrestling fans tell us they showed their loved ones and they become addicted to it. That’s one of the big reasons to do this show. We do the same thing, when you meet a non-wrestling fan you show them your favorite matches, some of the most emotional moments in wrestling.” – Jason
On how to approach the screwjob
“With the Montreal Screwjob, there’s definitely fatigue around that story in terms of the hardcore wrestling fan, but for people like my dad or people that watch Viceland it is a super important story that kinda is the best entry point for a non-wrestling fan and how the backstage function, the backstage politics, how matches are orchestrated, what the stakes of that are ya know, it’s not just people going out and doing a bunch of ga-ga for the sake of it, and how important it is to be a champion. Really it’s to educate people on how that functions and it’s a perfect lead in to the other episodes.
We wanted to approach it at a different angle. One of them, which some people take an issue with, is the idea that here’s what happened, but also people still can’t agree on how this thing went down. It’s always interesting to me and it’s also fascinating to us that there are so many people that wanna take credit for this incidence, but they don’t wanna take credit at the same time.” – Evan
On the Von Erich Story
“Obviously that’s been chronicled in WWE documentaries, independent documentaries, ESPN 30 for 30 spot on it. Every time you’ve seen Kevin tell that story, he’s always put in a studio, he’s lit, and there’s a backdrop and it seems very produced. We wanted to try to tell the most intimate version of that story. We are gonna go to his turf and we’re gonna spend time with Kevin, we’re gonna spend days with him to get the real emotional story of what he went through. – Evan
“He said after he did it it was the most open he’s ever been about his family story. It was super emotional, even for us, we had to take a lot of breaks during that interview because it would get really heavy. Evan and I were tearing up while we were doing it because it was so emotional.” – Jason
“It’s going to be a major gut punch when it airs May 1st.” – Evan
On nerves while interviewing wrestlers during the creation of the show
“There were certain ones I’d be nervous about, and Evan would be nervous about” – Jason
“If you’ve seen the show, you know that most of the interviews are attached direct camera. The way it’s achieved is through a gimmick you attach to the camera that allows myself to have a conversation, it’s like a set of mirrors that reflects my image over the lense so that when they talk to the camera they actually see my face and vis versa I can see their face. And sometimes it can be a little intimidating because some of these guys are just intimidating, like Abdullah the Butcher.” – Evan
I think approaching it as a fan, it’s like you have to be careful not to be too much of a fan. You have to harness that, like going to Bret Hart’s house for example. If you were to tell 12 year old me that I’m going to Bret Hart’s house and looking at his Wrestlemania arcade machine, it would blow my mind. You have to be as cool as a cucumber, these guys are gonna open up to you, they’re gonna tell you their story, they appreciate wrestling fans, but they’re conditioned to put up a front to wrestling fans. We have to act like this middle ground between professions but also like well researched that know what we’re talking about so we can communicate on a level that they know we know what we’re talking about” – Evan
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