Former pro wrestler Wilbur McDougall was battling addiction and self-imposed isolation before undergoing gastric sleeve surgery. For this serio-comic documentary, he let university mate J Ollie Lucks film his journey of transformation. McDougall needs a new wrestling persona — and the "happiness and self-acceptance that has eluded him for so long". Will his friendship with Lucks survive, as the filmmaker jumps at the story from the top rope? Lucks and Julia Parnell's feature began in 2015 as a short film for Loading Docs. The long version debuted at 2017's Doc Edge Festival.
This episode of the legendary pro-wrestling show screened on 29 July 1980. Ernie Leonard and Steve Rickard compere the action at Canterbury Court Stadium. In the first match up Aussie grappler Larry O'Day teams up with local Merv Fortune to take on Kid Hardie and young Ricky Rickard. An excerpt features Brute Miller and Sweet William (later famous as The Bushwackers) against Lu Leota and Samoan Joe; while Jack Claybourne and Ron Miller round out the bill. Billy T James makes an appearance and comments on the authenticity of the in-the-ring proceedings.
Wilbur Force was once a warrior in the world of NZ pro wrestling, but he has fallen on hard times and is back in his hometown, living on the dole and mattress rather than on the mat. This edition in the second season of Loading Docs short films sees director J Ollie Lucks chronicling his ex-university classmate (real name William McDougall) battling the demons that have kept him from the ring. But McDougall soon questions his director’s motivation. Wilbur Force was selected for the 2015 NZ International Film Festival. A feature film inspired by the wrestler was released in 2017.
This episode of the legendary professional wrestling series screened in March 1981. Barry Holland and the late Steve Rickard host (Ernie Leonard has moved behind the scenes into a producer role). Rickard welcomes locals and viewers from Kenya, Hong Kong and Malaysia. On the Mat mainstay Mark Lewin features prominently, appearing in tag action before reminiscing about a fiery battle with King Curtis in Japan. Things don't improve as he's attacked by the Voodoo-crazed Big Mullumba. The main event sees local star Johnny Garcia and Samoan Joe battling it out.
The Karate Kid meets South Auckland when Fritz (played by Australian-Tongan actor Uli Latukefu) learns the warrior ways of his old Dad, so he can secure the return of his family's treasured pro-wrestling title belt from local gangsters. The Legend of Baron To'a marks the first feature from director Kiel McNaughton, whose credits include Auckland Daze and Find Me a Māori Bride. McNaughton also produced acclaimed films Waru and Vai with his wife Kerry Warkia. The action/comedy boasts a stellar Pasifika/Māori cast, including Jay Laga'aia and Shavaughn Ruakere.
TV series The Deep End saw reporter Bill Manson trying his hand at a variety of tasks, from female impersonator to Robinson Crusoe to captaining a navy frigate. In this episode, Manson is given six weeks to get in shape for a pro wrestling bout. To prepare himself for the dangerous job, 12 stone Manson hits the weights, grapples with wrestling legend Steve Rickard (On the Mat) and works with an acting tutor, barber and promoters on his onstage persona: ‘Doctor Mindbender’. “The thing that scares me," he says, "is just breaking my neck…”