Netflix’s Wrestlers: What’s it about, when is it streaming and have any big names graduated from OVW?

Netflix looks behind the curtain at the lives of hopeful sports entertainers in their new series, ‘Wrestlers.’

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Like it or not, that form of entertainment for some of us that you think you’re cleverly telling us is ‘fake’ is having a bit of a mainstream pop culture resurgence over the last year and a half. With WWE and AEW both pulling in big numbers at the box office, including two highly acclaimed shows in the UK, ‘wrestling’ is once again permeating pop culture.

With TV series such as Stephen Amell’s ‘Heels,’ Netflix’s ‘GLOW’ and the forthcoming A24 movie based on The Von Erich family, ‘The Iron Claw,’ starring Zac Efron, perhaps now is as good a time as either to take a look behind the scenes at how wrestlers train, and how they come up with their ‘gimmicks’ (characters).

Netflix’s new series, ‘Wrestlers,’ aims just to do that; following a bunch of hopefully that call Ohio Valley Wrestling their home, the one-time feeder fed to World Wrestling Entertainment has an illustrious list of names they count as alumni, and with former WWE wrestler Al Snow as the head of training, perhaps a few more will be added to that list in the future.

The seven-part series examines how wrestlers, or ‘sports entertainers’ if you’re a die-hard WWE fan, manage to juggle their training and life on the road touring different promotions with their day-to-day lives, be it being a teacher, an architect or an office worker.

So what do you need to know ahead of watching ‘Wrestlers’ on Netflix - including some lingo that might be used throughout the show you might not be familiar with?

What is Ohio Valley Wrestling?

Based in Louisville, Kentucky, OVW has been a crucial training ground for up-and-coming wrestlers, serving as a stepping stone to larger promotions like WWE. Established in the 1990s, OVW quickly gained recognition for its commitment to nurturing wrestling talent from their early days in the sport to becoming polished professionals. 

One of OVW's key contributions to the wrestling industry is its comprehensive training program, where aspiring wrestlers receive rigorous coaching in various wrestling techniques, mic skills, and character development. OVW has also maintained a strong presence in the wrestling community through live events and television broadcasts, keeping fans engaged and showcasing the talents of its roster

Have any wrestlers gone on to fame after graduating from Ohio Valley Wrestling?

[L-R] John Cena, Brock Lesnar, Dave Bautista and Randy Orton are all graduates of OVW (Credit: Getty Images)[L-R] John Cena, Brock Lesnar, Dave Bautista and Randy Orton are all graduates of OVW (Credit: Getty Images)
[L-R] John Cena, Brock Lesnar, Dave Bautista and Randy Orton are all graduates of OVW (Credit: Getty Images)

Ohio Valley Wrestling was responsible for the training and early starts of four wrestlers who went on to become icons both in wrestling and success in the realms of entertainment. The biggest name to come out of OVW is John Cena, who went by the name ‘The Prototype’ when he first started in the business, becoming over time a beloved, if not at times polarising figure, in sports entertainment.

Another graduate of OVW is former UFC Heavyweight Champion, Brock Lesnar. Despite his achievements in amateur wrestling, including the NCAA, Lesnar went to OVW to tidy up his style to fit a sports entertainment setting - i.e., how to sell and how not to hurt someone unintentionally.

Known now for his roles in ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ and ‘Blade Runner 2039,’ David Bautista got his start in wrestling as a member of OVW, portraying a character known as Leviathan, the demon of the deep - and at one time OVW’s biggest monster heel, before joining the WWE and transitioning his success there to the big screen.

We’d also be remiss not to mention that Randy Orton and Cody Rhodes were both graduates of OVW; while Randy Orton has gone on to become a multiple-time world champion like the other names mentioned, Rhodes is currently going through a long-term story in his quest to win the WWE Championship - a title his father, the late Dusty Rhodes, never had a chance to attain.

Are there any terms I might need to know before watching ‘Wrestlers’?

There might be a couple explained during the series, but there are a couple of wrestling-centric terms that might be worth knowing before watching the show:

  • Face - Short for ‘babyface,’ they are the good guys in wrestling. Heels, short for bootheels, are your bad guys. Tweeners are those wrestlers that err between good and evil
  • Booking - This is the ‘fake’ part of wrestling, but booking is the act of creating a wrestling show and what is going to take place
  • Spot - this is related to what will happen in a match. For example, the booker will state that at some point, someone is going through a table. That would be the ‘spot’ for the match
  • Heat - the reaction from the fans. Heat is an important part of wrestling as it can make and break a character. No reaction from the crown? No heat. Then there is ‘go-away heat,’ when a wrestler does not resonate with the crowd and they just boo them in an attempt to get them to go away
  • Gimmick - This can have two meanings: a gimmick is the character of a wrestler, but a gimmick match is a certain wrestling match where there is some stipulation. A cage match or a loser-leaves-town match can be considered a gimmick match.
  • Angle - An angle is essentially part of a storyline ‘booked’ in order to further the development of a story. A sneak attack by a heel on a face backstage would be an ‘angle.’
  • Kayfabe - Kayfabe is effectively ensuring that the ‘reality’ of pro wrestling is kept within the realms of a storyline. 
  • Work - What wrestlers do to fans - ‘working’ the crowd and ‘working’ the storyline. The opposite of this is a ‘shoot,’ in which the events that take place are not part of any angle or booking. You then get the complex nature of a ‘worked shoot,’ which is angles within the realms of what is happening behind the scenes, but rooted within storylines or to create a new angle.
  • Blade - The act of cutting one's forehead open with a razor blade to draw blood. Sometimes, if someone is ‘busted open’ by accident without the use of a blade, it is known as a ‘Hardaway’ spot

When is ‘Wrestlers’ streaming on Netflix?

The entire first season of ‘Wrestlers’ is available today on Netflix.

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