350 Days: Legends. Champions. Survivors

350 Days - posterIf there’s one thing the advent of podcasts and crowd funding has taught us it’s that fans of pro-wrestling love listening to their heroes telling their stories about as much as those heroes love telling them, and that’s exactly what 350 Days: Legends. Champions. Survivors is all about.

Named for the apparent number of days the average professional wrestler spent on the road per year in the 1970s, 80s and 90s Fulvio Cecere’s film is compiled from interviews with a huge spectrum of wrestlers telling their tales of life on the road.

Those who appear range from global Superstars like Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart and ‘The Million Dollar Man’ Ted DiBiase who made their name in the glory days of the then WWF when Hulk Hogan was making the ‘sport’ a bonafide family entertainment and marketing phenomenon, to ‘midget wrestler’ Farmer Pete and lesser known now, but clearly territorial stalwart in the 60s and 70s, Don Fargo and pretty much anyone in between from Greg ‘The Hammer’ Valentine to JJ Dillon to ‘Superstar’ Billy Graham.

350 Days - 'Superstar' Billy Graham
‘Superstar’ Billy Graham

Given the film’s ‘independent’ credentials and no association with any of the current major wrestling companies who own a majority of the footage of pro-wrestling from the last half century, the film is necessarily lacking any actual wrestling action.

Instead it’s comprised largely of fairly straightforward talking head style interviews with the grapplers, grouped into general subjects from stories of travelling, to injuries, interactions with fans and the strains put on family life by such a relentless schedule.

Between each of these segments are brief clips or photos vaguely relating to the subjects where possible and sometimes featuring those appearing in the film but, more often than not, featuring arguably bigger or more famous names who aren’t in the film.

350 Days - Ox Baker
Ox Baker

While showing the breadth of the subjects it does feel a little like an attempt by the film makers to include some stars who turned down the opportunity of appear in person.

That’s a small niggle though as, in the interviews, we do get to hear some fascinating anecdotes and tales and the breadth and star quality of those who appear does provide a great cross section of pro-wrestling.

Added to that, being an independent production, means the talking heads aren’t at all constrained by subject or agenda and there are places, particularly when discussing drug use and some elements of ‘hedonism’ on the road that we get a far deeper insight into than we might otherwise and, for the most part, it is far from a glamourising view.

350 Days - George 'The Animal' Steele
George ‘The Animal’ Steele

Being shot in a very down to earth style adds to the overall feel that, while the production values of the big companies may be huge, the majority of the life of a wrestler is surprisingly down to Earth no matter the profile of the performer but ultimately it becomes a celebration of the ‘sport’ with all seemingly agreeing that whatever problems they may have experienced they don’t regret their time as pro-wrestlers, giving it a conclusion that would please even the hardest hearted fan.

So, while the stories may not be particularly revelatory, and the style of the film is fairly basic, 350 Days is still an enjoyable watch, celebrating the unique world of this most singular of artistic pursuits and, while it probably won’t be the sort of film to have a lot of crossover interest, for fans it’s another fine chance to revel in something we love for a couple of hours.

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