The life of a professional wrestler is difficult at the best of times. On top of the life-threatening nature of the sport, they also have to grapple with intense traveling and soul-crushing loneliness outside of the squared circle. Anyone who’s ever watched a WWE superstar documentary or a Hall of Fame ceremony will recall tales of wrestlers discussing their struggles while chasing their dream. However, given that these career retrospectives are mostly celebratory and focus on wrestlers who’ve succeeded, their career highs tend to overshadow their personal lows.
Fulvio Cecere’s 350 Days peels back the curtain to shed some light on the unglamorous side of the sport. Whether trying to stay in shape while traveling year round, the inability to live a normal family life, starving in fleabag hotel rooms, or getting seriously injured inside (and outside) of the ring, the wrestlers featured in this film all have similar stories to tell. What makes the documentary fascinating, however, is hearing warts and all accounts of everyone’s personal experiences and their viewpoints on the business itself. Even if their highs do still outweigh the lows in the grand scheme of things.
From Bret “The Hitman” Hart to “Superstar” Billy Graham, the assembled roster is comprised of names who’ve reached the apex of the industry and achieved legendary status. Even some of the lesser known stars, like Ox Baker and Paul Orndorff, will be recognizable to anyone who’s even remotely familiar with wrestling history. Their insights get into the nitty-gritty of what life is like for performers behind the scenes, which non-fans will find informative. Purists, on the other hand, will enjoy hearing anecdotes from those who’ve been there and done it all.
Ultimately, though, 350 Days’ decision to focus on legends and established names makes it another wrestling doc that’s rather optimistic. Essentially, the film argues that the grind is worth it if you’re chasing the dream. That’s fine, and for some wrestlers it’s true. That said, if the film featured some of the thousands of wrestlers who didn’t achieve success, it would have lent more variation and credibility to the film’s central thesis. There’s a bigger story to tell here, and in that sense, this doc is another missed opportunity. Still, if you want a doc with a similar premise that chronicles the minor league performers, check out The Wrestling Road Diaries series. And if you want something more nuanced and painfully honest, watch The Resurrection of Jake the Snake or Beyond the Mat.
Fortunately, the subjects don’t shy away from exposing some of the harsh realities of the business. For example, “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase discusses how he couldn’t afford to buy proper meals and he and his colleagues had to pile into sweaty motel rooms together. There are also stories from various wrestlers discussing the times they were shot, stabbed, and assaulted by angry fans. The film doesn’t focus on some of the more tragic stories that have happened throughout the years, but it doesn’t portray wrestling as just a life of celebrity glamour either.
Despite being an entertaining and enlightening doc in many ways, 350 Days is occasionally dragged down by unnecessary fat. There are moments where the film breaks off into tangents which detract from the central premise. For example, in one scene, Ox Baker discusses his successful career as a cookbook author and we watch him prepare a meal. It’s one of a few scenes that almost make us forget what the film is trying to achieve. All in all, some trimming would have made this one more concise and effective.
Still, the film’s issues are small. Overall, 350 Days is a feel-good affair that just so happens to chronicle a side of wrestling that most docs bypass. The reason why so many wrestlers believe the struggle is worth it is due to their passion for what they do. They’re wired differently, and the film emphasizes that aspect of their personalities brilliantly. We’re still waiting for the wrestling documentary that provides an all-encompassing exploration of the business, but 350 Days does cover substantial ground for shedding some light on it.