Rated: Not Rated | Running Time: 96 Minutes
From: Dark Sky Films
On DVD March 1, 2016 : Via Digital Download Now
The most hated, and at the same time beloved wrestler of all time has a story that can simply be summarized as “The good. The hated. The ugly. The survivor. The star.” He is Khasrow Ali Vaziria, he is The Iron Sheik, and the documentary “The Sheik” tells it all without pulling any punches, or camel clutches as it would be, in a fascinating look at The Sheik’s roller coaster of a life.
Starting at the beginning, “The Sheik” traces Khasrow all the way back to his story in Iran, born in 1942 and becoming a wrestler, a star athlete in the Olympics, and a bodyguard for The Shah. Seeing his star rising yet not as high as fellow wrestler Takhti, when Takhti supposedly “committed suicide” and rumors abounded that it was The Shah who didn’t like the gold medalist’s popularity thereby “taking care” of the national hero, Khasrow realizes he needs to leave his beloved Iran for his own safety, and he heads to the United States.
He found a wife, Caryl, used his wrestling background to get work mostly as a coach, but eventually found himself back in the ring. Wanting more than the generic wrestling world, and urged on by others, Khasrow began his transformation becoming the perfect wrestling villain, “The Iron Sheik,” at the most opportune time when all of America hated Iran. Vince McMahon, building the brand of the then WWF, now WWE, created the ultimate storyline for the changing of the guard from reigning champion Bob Backlund to the meteoric rise of Hulk Hogan, using The Iron Sheik as the perfect transition at a time when most people just weren’t sure if wrestling storylines were “fake.”
“The Sheik” builds the story, transitioning to the 80’s, and the badness of the 80’s, and how it wasn’t so bad that The Sheik and Jim Duggan were busted for drugs, the ultimate problem for the WWF was that rivals, two wrestlers who supposedly hated each other, were somehow hanging out together doing drugs. Suddenly the magic curtain was lifted on wrestling and the confirmation that the storylines were just that, contrived soap operas constantly building up and crushing down the wrestling “champions”, meant there had to be a fall guy. So, what happens when your actions have the potential to crush a brand? Well, you become ostracized, of course, and The Iron Sheik was then a pariah to big-time wrestling, finding himself on the independent circuit with the glory days over and him becoming an afterthought.
At least for then.
As his story continues enter Page and Jian Magen, with their ultimate love, and desire, to help The Sheik reclaim his glory and his life. At the time of their entering his life The Sheik was in turmoil with his daughter sadly murdered, he in mental anguish and turning to drugs, his “medicine,” in a big way. His marriage was breaking up, there is footage in the documentary of The Sheik going to buy drugs, but eventually Page and Jian work with him, show him the wonders of social media, of becoming a YouTube star, and the boys, knowing the power of Howard Stern, get The Sheik some time on the show. The Sheik cleans himself up in regards to the drugs but becomes “out of control” in his world of social media. The entertainment of The Sheik exploded, and the roller-coaster of “Jabroni” and “Respect” is back, especially on Twitter as @the_ironsheik where a tweet like “stay blessed and go fuck yourself” can bring an instant smile to your face. And yes, the documentary does have The Rock paying homage to The Sheik, as well as explaining the story that “Jabroni” is really The Sheik’s word, and The Sheik’s using of it backstage was legend in the wrestling world.
“The Sheik,” as well as being a wonderful and fascinating look into the story of Khasrow Ali Vaziria, also does what a great documentary does best, peppers the story of the life with interviews by those whose life he interacted. This one has them all, both in the wrestling world with the likes of Hulk Hogan, Mike Foley, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (He has some of the best stories of how Khasrow influenced his early days), and Jake “The Snake” Roberts, as well as everyday celebrities, like Jack Black or Seth Green, suddenly becoming that kid again upon seeing The Sheik, and loving their wrestling idol that they absolutely hated.
The Sheik says it best: “There is no success without struggle. Hard work pays off.” The documentary shows the struggle, shows the hard work, and if you grew up in the late 70’s and 80’s watching wrestling, the documentary will transform you back to sitting in front of the TV when you hated him, but will have you follow him on Twitter.
I absolutely loved this documentary. Yes, The Iron Sheik can be a polarizing figure. Yes, his language can be vulgar and crude. And yes, his story is fascinating. But through it all, past the persona of “The Sheik” you see a gentle man who loves his family, has a wife who is incredible, and if you want to see someone who has lived a full life, Khasrow Ali Vaziria has done just that. It’s 5 stars out of 5 for “The Sheik.”
That’s it for this one! L8R!!