Dark Side of the Ring has opened the eyes of many wrestling fans to some of the most riveting and emotional tales in the business. Vice TV has found a gold mine for the wrestling community and continues to deliver well produced documentaries with every passing season.
Over three seasons, Dark Side of the Ring has covered different performers, scandals and incidents that haven't been divulged on the mainstream level before. The team has deep dived into the most controversial figures and stories that have pulled on the heart strings of fans and has uncovered new information.
The latest episode on "The Plane Ride From Hell" has had plenty of fallout, with Tommy Dreamer being suspended from IMPACT Wrestling due to his comments during the show, and Ric Flair had his "Car Shield" commercials pulled.
In this article, let's take a look at the five must-watch Dark Side of the Ring episodes.
5) The Life and Crimes of New Jack – Dark Side of the Ring Season 2, Episode 3
Dark Side of the Ring Season 2 may have been when the series picked up steam. They touched on more serious issues in wrestling and its polarizing characters. Among the most divisive is the former ECW original New Jack. The Original Gangsta had a hardcore style that made him popular during the peak of Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW).
His story was fascinating, starting in Smokey Mountain Wrestling and making his way to ECW. New Jack's high risk stunts were dangerous for himself and those around him. The Mass Transit Incident was covered in detail, which still remains one of the scariest wrestling tales ever. New Jack didn't slow up after ECW with various violent incidents.
The thing that made "The Life and Crimes of New Jack" Dark Side of the Ring episode stand out was the man behind the character, Jerome Young. His storytelling ability was on full display and brought a genuine sense of humor to some crazy experiences. It made fans wish that New Jack would do a one-man show on his life afterwards.
"The Life and Crimes of New Jack" unfortunately was one of the last projects that Jerome Young took part in before his death in May this year. From flying off scaffolds and throwing men off them to beating a 69-year old Gypsy Joe within an inch of his life and stabbing William Jason Lane, this is a compelling episode that shows why New Jack is the most infamous wrestler ever.
4) How Brian Pillman Broke The Fourth Wall – Dark Side of the Ring Season 3 Episodes 1 & 2
Dark Side of the Ring Season 3 started strong with a two-part episode going on the life and career of Brian Pillman. The Loose Cannon was one of wrestling's most controversial characters. Pillman blurred the line between reality and working in the business. It made for an intriguing edition of the series.
Talking heads are chosen for the "How Brian Pillman Broke The Fourth Wall" Dark Side of the Ring episode brought a lot to this one. Stone Cold Steve Austin was Pillman's former tag team partner in WCW, and one of his friends. Along with Pillman's confidant Kim Wood, they added perspective to Pillman's mindset at different points in his career.
Brian Pillman's children all told their sides of the story. They had a different point of view seeing how Brian's choices in his career affected his home life. Pillman's sister Linda was the overwhelming hero of the story, helping bring Brian's children together years after his death.
Brian's widow, Melanie Pillman, became the villain of the episode in many ways. Her relationship with Pillman put a strain on his relationship with his first two kids as well as allegedly led to the death of his first wife. Pillman's tale is not the brightest with drugs, lies, and a character that was one of a kind, but is certainly worth watching.
3) The Final Days of Owen Hart – Dark Side of the Ring Season 2 Episode 10
Dark Side of the Ring Season 2 ended with a major story following a strong start. The producers chose one of the most tragic tales ever in the wrestling business with "The Final Days of Owen Hart". The youngest Hart brother is widely regarded as being ahead of his time, an all-time great performer, and one of the most kind-hearted individuals ever in the industry.
Dr. Martha Hart was the unquestionable star of this Dark Side of the Ring episode. For the first time on a mainstream level, she was able to tell the story of the man that she and so many wrestling fans loved. Martha spoke from the perspective of who Owen was outside the ring, and how gifted he was inside the squared circle.
Owen's kids added a lot talking about how Owen was as a father, and how their mother reacted to his final days. Jim Ross was on the management side of WWE at the time of Owen's passing and was given the unenviable task of telling the fans that Owen had passed live on air. His reliving of that tragic night was deeply sad and disappointing for him.
The Dark Side of the Ring episode opened fans' eyes as to why the family has been adamant about not wanting Owen to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. The negligence at hand in Owen's stunt from Over The Edge 1999 was evident and should never be ignored. Chris Jericho provided a lot as a talking head and stated that fans were robbed of a career resurgence for Owen Hart.
2) The Killing of Bruiser Brody – Dark Side of the Ring Season 1 Episode 3
Dark Side of the Ring Season 1 sets the tone for what the series has become. The first episode was on Macho Man Randy Savage and Miss Elizabeth "The Match Made In Heaven", while the second episode was on "The Montreal Screwjob". These were topics have been tackled before by WWE and other outlets. However, the third episode went into a scandal that many fans didn't know too much about.
"The Killing of Bruiser Brody," the Dark Side of the Ring episode, was the first to show what the series was capable of. Mick Foley is a huge fan of Bruiser Brody and knows his story better than many. He made for the perfect narrator about a hardcore legend that inspired him. The talking heads included in this one might be the best selection who were all present on the night in Puerto Rico.
Tony Atlas might be the best storyteller, and delivered every word about what he saw happen to his friend Bruiser Brody that evening. Atlas expressed how and why he believed foul play happened. Dutch Mantell was less involved but added just as much. He was also the first to speak to Brody's wife after his stabbing and passing.
Bruiser Brody's wife and son made excellent contributions to this Dark Side of the Ring episode. His son brought many viewers to tears, losing out on the best years of his father's life. His wife showcased genuine emotion about how it felt to lose the man that she loved, and how the writing was on the wall before he took off for his flight. This is a tale of tragedy, heartbreak, and controversy unlike any other.
1) Benoit – Dark Side of the Ring Season 2 Episodes 1 & 2
Dark Side of the Ring covered a lot in Season 1, but Season 2 showed that it was only the tip of the iceberg. The follow-up season started with a bang with the story of Chris Benoit. The former WWE superstar has the most highly publicized tragedy that has ever been seen in the history of the business.
The Benoit Dark Side of the Ring episode was a two-part special that started with his career. Benoit was inspired by Dynamite Kid and trained at the legendary Hart Dungeon. He traveled around the world and gained prominence in Japan in the junior heavyweight division. It was there that he first met Eddie Guerrero.
Vickie and Chavo Guerrero were used as talking heads to discuss the friendship and bond between Benoit and Guerrero. In many ways, this Dark Side of the Ring episode was a tale of three parts. There is Benoit, Guerrero, and also Woman. Telling Woman's part, her sister Sandra Toffoloni added a lot of emotion in narrating how her sister got into the business and met Benoit.
Benoit and Guerrero came to WCW, and this is where Benoit met Woman. Kevin Sullivan was married to Woman at the time, but he crafted a storyline where she cheated on him with Benoit, which became reality. This led to an intense series of matches with Benoit and Sullivan. Despite their success, Benoit and Guerrero left WCW for WWE.
It was there that the two men reached the apex of their careers. Both Guerrero and Benoit ended WrestleMania XX holding the top titles in WWE. Vickie Guerrero described the amazing feeling for both families on this night during the Dark Side of the Ring episode. However, it would turn tragic a year and a half later.
Chavo's description of Benoit's reaction to finding Eddie's body after his passing in November 2005 was a feeling of distraught. This shook Benoit to his core and he never fully recovered. Eventually, issues arose in the marriage between Chris and Nancy Benoit. This led to the biggest scandal in wrestling history.
Chris's eldest son, David, was the most captivating of the talking heads. Despite all that happened, viewers can tell he still loved and admired his father. This might have been the most haunting of any Dark Side of the Ring episode.
The description of Benoit's actions and CTE exploration are all necessary viewing. Chris Jericho bringing David and Sandra together gave a happy ending that fans needed. That's why the Benoit two-parter is the most must-watch Dark Side of the Ring episode.