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Watch The Lights – A NORTH Wrestling Film Review – get all the details here

By 6 June 2024June 13th, 2024Reviews

By Andrew Spoors

The last decade has seen documentaries become a staple of storytelling on equal footing with both feature length movies or television series. Able to showcase the most niche of interests, tales of both the weird and wonderful.

While professional wrestling has long shrugged off the label of niche, it remains a fascinating landscape of colourful characters, each carving out their own unique path in a much bigger universe.

A Character Study

Watch The Lights delves into the story of NORTH Wrestling, the build up to their biggest show ever and some of the eclectic stars that make up their roster. The documentary however faces a tricky balancing act with a number of personalities worthy of screentime, bringing viewers up to speed with the promotion’s history, all while building to a grandstand show.

Thankfully, director Alex Ayre finds the film’s thread and emotional compass in the shape of fledgling star Leon Slater. The Bradford native’s rise from an energetic fan, to starring in the main event of Thunderstruck opposite his trainer and wrestling father figure Liam Slater, is showcased through home video, family interviews and candid backstage footage.

And it is in those latter moments where Watch The Lights begins to shine brightly. Though this is Ayre’s love letter to a company that has cultivated an incredibly tight knit community, it is also an incredibly crafted subject piece that in places begins to pull back the curtain and reveal some of the industry’s secrets.

Wrestling fans need not be scared, the moments behind the veil are treated with the dignity and respect it deserves. But candid footage of champion and challenger running lines together treat the audience as adults in on the act rather than rigidly and hopelessly attempting to keep kayfabe alive.

While Leon may be the thread, the overall promotion of NORTH is the overall product. There’s no easy way to put this. British wrestling took a battering during the covid pandemic, not just due to enforced lockdowns and restrictions, but through the very serious accusations that came to light during that period. This particular documentary doesn’t delve into that particular realm of the industry, instead it celebrates what makes it so very special and enticing. There’s no “gotcha” moment just a lesson in what can be achieved when a group of people believe in themselves.

Shine A Light

NORTH Wrestling has always unashamedly tried to remain true to its original intentions and goals. As displayed in the build up to a show at the Walker Dome, the dreams have simply gotten bigger. An intriguing question is asked during Watch The Lights, “How can you sell out without selling-out?”

It’s a moral question that many other promotions have tried and failed to answer throughout the peaks and troughs of British independent wrestling. Here, Ayre successfully captures just some of the reasons this North East promotion might stand the test of time. The people. Funny, honest and caring. Some of the most entertaining moments of the film come from the motley crew of a cast simply being themselves.

From the fans to owner of NORTH, Andrew Bowers. Producers to wrestlers. Watch The Lights successfully attempts to remove some of the shadows that have clung to an industry currently burning brightly in pop culture. In doing so, viewers are given something and someone to get behind. To achieve that feat not just respectfully, but with obvious love involved, simultaneously makes the documentary one to watch, Ayre and NORTH Wrestling ones to watch…