WWE '30 for 30' Specials ESPN Should Make After Ric Flair's 'Nature Boy'
The WWE world is one rich with stories perfect for exploring, examining and celebrating via ESPN's 30 for 30.
The sports network has already done that with the life and career of Hall of Famer Ric Flair. Nature Boy premiered on Tuesday night, marking the first full-length entry in the documentary series to feature a pro wrestling subject.
Should ESPN venture down this path again, its choices are plentiful.
A legal case that nearly crippled WWE, the rise of a broad-shoulder icon and a famous walkout from the company would all make for compelling 30 for 30 topics. Each of those stories boasts emotional punch and angles left unexplored.
WWE does its best to control the narrative, whitewashing history at times in its own documentaries. So seeing these topics addressed from an outsider's view would be huge.
The best WWE-centric 30 for 30 subjects would feature ample drama to dive into, have mainstream appeal and feature figures one can't look away from.
The following are five other WWE stories that deserve to follow Nature Boy into the realm of ESPN films.
Hulk Hogan was bigger than WWE, bigger than wrestling.
In the early '80s, the tanned colossus stomped his way into popular culture. He was the subject of a cartoon, starred in movies, appeared on magazine covers and hosted Saturday Night Live.
The explosion of Hogan's popularity would make for a great film subject.
Which pro wrestlers idolized him growing up? Which athletes rooted for him when he looked to take down the big, bad villains of his cartoon world?
To tell the story of Hogan is also to tell the story of WWE's national (and eventually global) expansion.
And ESPN could shine a light on the personal scandals that he's been a part of more recently. His sex tape, legal battle with Gawker and expulsion from WWE due to a racist comments made in the sex tape are all uncomfortable but compelling subjects.
The 1994 Steroid Trial
The ruler of an entertainment empire in a neck brace unsure if his kingdom is set to crumble. Drugs. Lies. Courtroom drama. The WWE steroid trial sounds like something out of a movie.
Former WWE doctor George Zahorian had been charged with illegally distributing steroids.
The case led to an examination of WWE's practices on performance-enhancing drugs. Hulk Hogan and Roddy Piper got involved. Vince McMahon and his company's future was uncertain.
There's plenty to mine here for a 30 for 30 documentary, including potential cover-ups.
This is certainly a subject we won't see WWE touch on. There will be no WWE: 24 on McMahon's dark days. It would have to be an impartial filmmaker who digs up what happened in and out of the courtroom.
A Chyna documentary would be a heart-wrenching one.
The WWE powerhouse was a trail-blazing performer who rearranged the audience's expectations for women in wrestling. There's plenty to showcase from that side of her life. She wrestled men, made history as the first and only female intercontinental champion and was a key figure in one of the most memorable WWE stables ever, D-Generation X.
But beyond that layer of Chyna's life, the film would look at how darkness surrounded her.
Her personal struggles saw her suffer strained family relationships and drug abuse. She entered the world of pornography and died at only 46 years old.
Much like the Flair documentary, there would be plenty of emotional weight to her story.
And just like the steroid trial, this isn't a subject WWE itself will ever touch. A 30 for 30 documentary filmmaker would instead walk down that uncomfortable road and reveal the real Chyna.
CM Punk's rise to WWE stardom alone is film-worthy. The company told much of that story in the 2013 documentary CM Punk: Best in the World.
There's more to explore there about his Chicago roots, how WWE didn't believe in him and how he made his mark on the independent circuit. A non-WWE filmmaker would likely give the audience additional layers to his story.
And his later years would be of great interest, too.
Punk walked away from WWE in early 2014, suddenly and with no intention of coming back.
He has since squabbled with McMahon, been sued by a WWE doctor and found a life elsewhere. His attempt to leap to the UFC saw him lose badly in his debut. All of that is stuff WWE fans and non-fans alike would be interested to see on film.
There has never been another man like Brock Lesnar.
The farm boy from South Dakota with a frame like a superhero dominated as a college wrestler, became a major star for WWE and won the UFC Heavyweight Championship. His would be a story where pro wrestling would only be a part of the whole tale, allowing ESPN to get plenty of sports into the film, as well.
A peek into the life of a man as closed off as he is would be interesting.
Lesnar also dealt with drug addiction. Throw in his bouts with diverticulitis, failed drug tests with the UFC and him coming up short when trying out for the Minnesota Vikings, and suddenly it's easy to imagine a 30 for 30 film on The Beast Incarnate.
Lesnar is a quiet man who is larger than life. He's a household name. He's a unique, special athlete.
All that adds up to being an ideal documentary subject.