Last Saturday night, I had a wonderful time screening the film “In The Ringer” at the South Charleston Museum, located in the LaBelle Theater on D Street. As part of the “New Films from West Virginia” series, the Museum presented the debut feature documentary by Amy Trent, starring none other than noted WV filmmaker Daniel Boyd, and telling the story of his career……. as a professional wrestler.
I’m not making that up. Danny (who I’ve known forever) got involved in the Nitro-based XMCW wrestling promotion, and found himself in the ring. Just exactly how that happened is the story of this film. The short version is that Mister X, one of the XMCW wrestlers, was scarred for life when, as a child, he was passed over for a role in one of Danny’s movies. When the esteemed Professor Boyd showed up to watch an evening of wrestling, he found himself involved in a life-changing confrontation with some surprising outcomes.
First-time director Amy Trent does a wonderful job of presenting this storyline, using in-depth interviews with the involved parties, along with some in-ring action to illustrate the key points. In professional wrestling circles, this sort of storyline is called an “angle,” and this is as fine a delineation of an angle that I’ve seen. It helps that this is a credible, realistic story, unlike much of what you see on WWE television shows these days.
There’s a surreal quality to watching somebody you know in real life, up on the big screen doing bizarre things, especially when he’s sitting right behind you in the theater. But it’s sort of fitting, since I usually get that feeling watching the movies that Danny directs anyway. You have to find an extra layer of the suspension of disbelief because you know so many of the actors.
Dan’s films have been so entertaining that it hasn’t been hard to remove myself enough from knowing everyone in them to enjoy them. Still, I can’t quite wrap my mind around the idea of watching my tiny, old friend and college film instructor doing suplexes and taking chair shots to head.
Not to be missed
“In The Ringer” is not something to be missed. It was a wonderful, fun evening, and the air was thick with kayfabe. If you get a chance to see the film, don’t pass it up. I’ll keep you up to date on any further showings. I’ll also keep you up to date on any further wrestling activities from “Stone Cold Danny Boyd” because I got the distinct impression that “In The Ringer” is only the beginning of the story.
And I also want to comment on how nice the restored LaBelle Theater is. They really have a nice thing going on over at the South Charleston Museum, and it’d be nice to see more people come out and support it. Steve Fesenmaier has been programming a terrific slate of West Virginia films for a year now, and it’s a great thing to have in the area. This Saturday they’re treating us to an evening of films devoted to Appalachian music featuring Jack Wright and the Carter Family.
You can read more about the films that Daniel Boyd has produced and directed here.