I recently, and by recently I mean ten minutes ago, got the chance to watch the documentary Gentleman's Choice. Gentleman's Choice is about the life and death of wrestler "Gentleman" Chris Adams. At his peak, Adams was one of the top stars for World Class Championship Wrestling, wrestling in front of over 40,000 people and feuding with Texas' biggest wrestling starts, the Von Erich Brothers. Adams started out as a judo master, even competing in the 1976 Olympic Games. From there, Adams moved on to pro wrestling, where he had great success in both his native Great Britian and in the United States. Adams was the one that made the superkick popular in pro wrestling, and held many titles in World Class and other territories during the 1980s. However, Adams' life would eventually crumble, and most of this documentary deals with just how low Adams got, up until his death in 2001. A few notes about the film:
- The film was produced by Mickey Grant. Grant's no longer in the wrestling buisness, but he was the main producer for World Class Championship Wrestling in the 1980s, back when the company had the hottest television show in the industry. A large part of that has been credited to the production skills of Mr. Grant. Because of his experience in wrestling, Grant was able to not only use clips of Adams in WCCW, but also scored interviews with such WCCW mainstays as Gary Hart, Killer Brooks, Bill Mercer, and Kevin Von Erich.
- This film is somewhat raw in that some of the interviews take place in strange locales. One guy was interviewed at a Dairy Queen, Adams's friend, an ex-stripper named Laurie Wright, was interviewed in a loud bar during operating hours. My favorite interview locale was with Kevin Von Erich, who did his interviews from what looked like his hot tub. Von Erich wore a mic on a towel and draped it across his shoulders, sitting in the water with a mic wired to him. To his credit, Von Erich was rather informative and seemed clear-headed, but I found it odd that he did his interview chilling in his hot tub.
- The film isn't a wrestling film, per se. Sure, it deals with a wrestler, but it seems to be more of a tale of how his life fell apart and how drugs and other forces brought Chris Adams down. The film does show clips of Adams wrestling, and shows a little about Adams' wrestling school, which produced Steve Austin, but other than that, it's mainly more of a cautionary tale than it is wrestling documentary.
- Adams actually was an architect working for the government before he started his pro wrestling career. As his parents told it, Chris just came by one day and told them he'd be wrestling, so be sure to turn on the television. Things sure would have been different if Adams had stuck to architecture.
- Some of the people in Adams' life weren't the type of people you would want to hang out with, to put it nicely. Adams seemed to have a lot of hangers on who were just using him due to his celebrity. One of which was a guy that called himself John "Raven" Wyner, who was accused by another interview subject of supplying Adams with drugs. A couple of the interview subjects seemed to be on something while being interviewed, such as Laurie, who was speaking a mile a minute most of the time and was acting very jumpy the whole time she was on camera.
- Although everyone talks about how nice of a person Adams was and how he was this and that, Chris Adams had some serious problems. On more than one occasion he was arrested due to his explosive temper, including an incident where he choked a co-captain on a plane in 1986. Adams became an alcoholic and addicted to the drug GHB, which according to the expert Grant interviewed, can really mess you up. It's likely that on the night he died, Adams was high on GHB.
- Adams' life quickly fell apart in 2000, after his girlfriend at the time (Linda Kaphengst) overdosed on GHB and eventually died due to the overdose. A woman named Miss Lacy, whom Adams had fired from his promotion due to a big mess that involved the movie "Beyond the Mat", took it upon herself to try and get the police involved in the investigation. When Adams threatened another woman to do to her what he "did to Linda", the woman called Lacy, who informed the police. Eventually, Adams was charged with one count of manslaughter, and was awaiting trail for that charge at the time of his death. Things got so heated that according to one source, Adams tried to hire a hitman to kill Lacy.
- One of the more interesting things about the film is that they interview Brent "Booray" Parnell, the man that actually killed Chris Adams. According to Parnell, the two were watching a movie in Parnell's room when Adams just went beserek. Things escalated, and according to Parnell's testimony, it seemed as if Adams was trying to choke him to death. Finally, Parnell grabbed a pistol and after unsuccessfully trying to get Adams off of him by hitting him with the butt of the gun, he fired the pistol, killing Adams. Parnell actually gave a rough reenactment of what happened on that fateful night, although he seemed so blasted during his interviews that it kind of hurts his credibility. Nevertheless, it's a sad ending for a man that once wrestled in front of such large crowds and stayed in the finest hotels, that he died in a one-story house of a friend who lived with his mother at the time.
This is not a happy story by any stretch of the imagination. A man who once was at the top of his profession, making all sorts of money, lost it all and died tragically, leaving behind three kids and a boatload of questions. Grant does a skillful job of telling this tragic tale, crafting hours and hours of interview footage into a story that really makes you think. It's not pretty, and you will come away with some questions at the end, but overall it's a film worth seeing. I'll give it a 7.19 out of 10.
Well, thanks for reading, and if you have any thoughts on this post, or any ideas for future posts, than share them either by leaving a comment or by e-mail at KtheC2001@gmail.com.