Documentaries: The Sheik

The strange and surreal life of The Iron Sheik is chronicled in this latest wrestling documentary.

"No. I no no like the TSA.
They searcha me every time."

The Sheik is one of the most revealing yet humanizing portrayals brought to screens this year. This ninety minute tale of Hossein Khosrow Ali Vaziri tells of his meteoric rise to the top of the world of professional wrestling and also captures his struggles with crack addiction, alcohol abuse, and other substance issues. 

Starting off as an Olympic wrestler then fighting his way through the ranks of the WWF, his time on earth has not been simple. The Shiek chronicles his life from meager beginnings to WWF stardom, back to the bottom, and then the major resurgence in his fame and professional career. 

Vaziri is not a simple man. In fact, the movie presents him in a challenging light while he beats back the demons of addiction and struggles through his sudden and unfair removal from the WWF. The Iron Sheik was one of the staples of my childhood as we watched him wrestle against much bigger, less skilled opponents week in and week out. Suddenly he was nowhere to be found unless you were hanging out at smoky local dive bars that hosted amateur wrestling on weekends. Vaziri's fall from fame was not pretty and The Sheik captures that in brutal detail that is heart wrenching and endearing at the same time. Like so many other pro wrestlers, Vaziri is a committed athlete that sadly veered off his path in to the lonely abyss of chemical abuse and addiction. But (and there's always a but), this documentary gives us the main details that led him to self destructive ways. 
"What you problem? I take
poop in box."

The Sheik is a movie that any fan of documentaries can enjoy. It is not specifically aimed at the core wrestling audience. The film has a little bit of something for everyone and is a breath of fresh air with its hands on approach and straight forward presentation of Vaziri. It pulls no punches and never hesitates to show audiences the sad and ugly truth about the evils of entertainment and the wrestling empire that has destroyed so many lives and families. The Iron Sheik should be hailed as the man that helped start Hulk-a-mania and one of the originators of pro wrestling as we know it today.

I haven't been a wrestling fan in decades, but thoroughly enjoyed every second of The Sheik. It's an entertaining piece of human cinema that chronicles the life of an athletic entertainer that fell off track but found his way back to the spotlight with the help of dedicated friends and family. If you're a fan of documentaries or pro wrestling, I think you'll find something either endearing or revealing about this movie. Check it out.