Mick Foley, Ken Anderson and company once again show why a strong promo inside the ring can lead to entertaining performances in other production capacities.
I have always been of the belief that there are two ways to showcase a scripted wrestling program that isn't a live broadcast, a la RAW or Impact.
You either make 'em laugh, or make 'em cry.
The former has always proven to be the more difficult of the two. Usually, when one finds themselves laughing at something pro wrestling-related, it is for all the wrong reasons.
Besides, the darkness that lies beneath the seemingly harmless and over-the-top spectacle of professional wrestling is far too depressing, and the land mines of tragedy are too tempting not to exploit.
Case in point, talented director Darren Aronofsky amassed several prestigious awards for his own dark foray into a relatively unprecedented genre of pro wrestling film in 2009's critically acclaimed The Wrestler.
The announcement of Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson teaming up with Jerry Bruckheimer to shoot an 80's-era wrestling drama further supports the notion that when it comes to TV and film, pro wrestling very well may be a story best told as a Greek tragedy with turnbuckles.
But an upstart mockumentary (think The Office in trunks) figures to add a much-needed comedic spin on the parody-ready world of nationally televised pro wrestling. Z! True Long Island Story's days as the funniest wrestling show on YouTube may be numbered.
Undisputed follows Matthew Reso (Mike O'Gorman) as he takes over head writing duties for nationally televised pro wrestling outfit American Wrestling Federation.
The show truly has something for everyone as it competently explains key terms and concepts for those who may not be as privy to pro wrestling's many nuances, while mixing in more subtle yet generalized elements that only the most jaded fan would understand—like when Tully Rhodes (a very physical wrestling icon and former head writer played by Mick Foley) refers to a backyard wrestling sensation on YouTube as a "glorified stuntman."
This was the exact term Ric Flair infamously used to blast Foley in his 2004 autobiography To Be the Man.
Undisputed shines in that it has just the right amount of irreverence to go with the physical comedy that is almost necessary to maintain credibility with the fanbase it looks to appease.
Ken Anderson is familiarly abrasive in his role as Sir Mike MicMichael, but this time he is entertaining as a top star in AWF who is committed, albeit inept, in his role as a fierce Brit with a poor fake accent.
Anderson and Foley show surprisingly refreshing chemistry together as McMichael and Rhodes antagonize in-over-his-head writer Mathew Reso. Reso's unceremonious unseating of Rhodes as head writer and the subsequent ill-will combine for a motif that is illustrated by slapstick gags throughout the series.
Wrestling fans familiar with Colt Cabana will love the ROH star's scene-stealing appearance as Upchuck, an exuberant AWF star whose charisma frenetically permeates through the media player.
An early mention of Upchuck and an apparent polygamous relationship with two women in the first episode suggests he will be more than just the captivating one-off appearance he made in episode two.
Undisputed is not without its holes, such as minor deficiencies in production values and the one-dimensional nature of key characters; however, one would imagine that many of these problems would be easily rectified should the groundbreaking shorts be picked up by a major distributor (this show has "FX" written all over it) and transformed into a full-length television show.
Overall, Undisputed does a good job simplifying the chaotic story of day-to-day operations within a professional wrestling company. It's worth checking out for fans of both pro wrestling and the growing genre of mockumentary comedy.
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