Having watched the first two iterations of the Wrestling Road diaries documentaries and been impressed, I have to say I was not prepared for just how compelling Volume 3 is to the series and ultimately to the story of the man, himself, Colt Cabana. If you haven’t seen these movies and are an indie wrestling fan, do yourself a favor and pick up all 3; an incredible night of binge viewing awaits you!
Volume 3 is the tale of three extremely talented wrestlers, who all embrace the comedic side of wrestling and the possibilities it affords to entertain and dazzle a crowd. Cabana introduces us to the young, Grado, most known for his work in Insane Championship Wrestling and of course TNA. Grado’s role in the film reminds me a lot of Colt Cabana circa Road Diary 1, where he is excited, full of wonder and endless creativity. The main difference is that Grado completely embraces his “role” in wrestling meaning that he has no illusions that he will portray a serious “bad-ass” character and he is instead very direct about the importance of comedy in wrestling. In Road Diary 1, we see Cabana struggling with this issue, likely because it was controversial at the time. In fact, it is Cabana’s trailblazing that has allowed younger wrestlers like Grado to proudly declare themselves a comedic wrestler. In essence, this is the beating heart of the film, all those moments when it occurs to Colt, what he has done, namely, transform independent wrestling. While it didn’t happen over night, and he has certainly taken his lumps for it, Colt Cabana has helped the indie scene stop pretending to be UFC light. Cabana figured out that indie wrestling fans don’t want to see the same “it’s a war” dream match over and over again. Often it is the comedy matches that not only liven up a wrestling show but help truly entertain the fans, delivering some of the most memorable matches and moments of any event.
In addition to the youthful exuberance of Grado, we are treated to the more seasoned veteran, Kikutaro, whose brand of comedy wrestling is simply infectious. Whether he’s wrestling in slow motion or hitting you with a corkscrew moonsault every action seems both spontaneous and perfectly calculated to elicit maximum laughs. Kikutaro is also given several sit down interviews in the film sometimes in his mask and rarely without. While there is a language barrier, his interviews are just as entertaining as his wrestling. Watching him is a treatise to how comedy is much harder than drama requiring spontaneity and the ability to take risks beyond the standard physical risks of every wrestling match. This is illustrated beautifully in the film in a pre-match segment in which Kikutaro suggests mentioning a balloon that has become stuck up on the ceiling of their wrestling venue. An open-minded Cabana goes with the idea, and the crowd reaction is pure magic.
Kikutaro, Grado and Cabana put on some terrific wrestling matches in this movie. Just the pure wrestling in Road Diaries 3, in my opinion, is the best of the three movies; even given the fact that Brian Danielson is featured in Road Diary 1. To sum it up, I leave you with the sentiments of Kikaturo, interviewed at the end of the film, mask-less and somewhat breathless, as he notes his motivations as an entertainer and artist. Kikaturo describes all the sadness and strife in his home country Japan, including the well documented and climbing suicide rates of Japan’s youth. He states, young people just want something fun in their lives, something to bring them joy, hope and happiness. This message of happiness is his goal as a wrestler. His honest and simple message is the beauty of comedic wrestling, and the beauty of this film. Thank you Colt Cabana for bringing the fun back to independent wrestling.