Unscarred: The Life of Sick Nick Mondo (2004) – By Josh Samford

 You know, I’ve been looking for an outlet to discuss one of my newest personal pass-times for a while now – but have all but unable to discuss it with just about anyone. My website, which I have essentially been on permanent vacation from leaves no lee-way for me to talk things over and Rogue Cinema here offers a bit more room to breathe in the genre categories – but even still my little infatuation is still too far off the entertainment pipeline to really fit in. No, I’m not talking about Golden Showers, Bukkake or Hentai you sick freaks – and shame on you for thinking of such disgusting thoughts – but I am referring to something possibly as equally frowned upon in polite society. Okay, maybe not, but as of late I have been drowning myself in Hardcore Underground Wrestling. Yes, we’re talking about wrestlers smacking each other with all kinds of household items – but things have progressed in the underground circuit. Going even further than what indipendent wrestling pioneer Paul Heyman and his legendary company ECW dared to take things. If your’e familiar with that name and the types of matches once seen in that Philidelphia bingo hall where so many men spilt their blood, sweat and tears – then you’ve got to be curious as to just how far it really CAN be taken. Let’s just say the human body can take a lot more damage than some of us would like to think, and the body of "Sick" Nick Mondo is living proof of that.

Riddled with scars from countless cuts, scrapes, gashes and lacerations – as an early twenty-something Nick Mondo, aka: Matt Burns, is quite the spectacle. Beginning the film, a documentary from Burns’ perspective covering his short but infamous career as a wrestler most popular for his deathmatches in the CZW (Combat Zone Wrestling) organization, Matt fills us in on his most painful moment of his career or his life. It took place in a 200 Light-Tube Deathmatch against a fellow wrestler by the name of The Wifebeater. The basic premise of the match is to take your average ring, then place 200 (or more) light-tubes along the ropes of the ring (as well as placing long staff looking sword like objects made up of about five or six light-tubes meant for the wrestlers to smash upside each other) so that the wrestlers can smash the living crap out of each other. Yes, these light-tubes are real. Real glass and real danger, not just from the glass but the powdery substance that erupts from them when they are smashed. You could argue that it’s all props I suppose, but during my time watching these matches, I recently saw a match from the same group where a wrestler by the name of The Necro Butcher nearly cut his arm off from taking a gash in his arm so deep you could see the bone – in a 200 Light-Tube Deathmatch no less. So, what exactly was the most painful moment for Mondo? Not the glass, that’s for sure. Earlier that night he went off a Ryder truck landing on two tables and a cabin of light-tubes, and that was his second of the tournament. By this point he had already went through tube after tube, so what was it that injured Matt in such a manner that he’ll never forget it? A weedwacker. That’s right, the gardening tool. The Wifebeater actually took the weedwacker and seered Matt’s flesh with it, leaving scar after scar on his body everytime the plastic whip came around tearing into his skin. This is extreme wrestling, this is… insane.

So, what is Unscarred? Aside from just a basic documentary discussing Matt and his brief wrestling career. Well, as much as I find myself in awe of this man and consider myself to now be a major fan of his – but whether or not I would consider Unscarred to be a very non-biased portrayal of his life is something different entirely. Matt does his best and does indeed deliver a very entertaining and engaging documentary that will show a whole group of people a view into this world they would never have noticed otherwise (and if you’re looking for some crazy shots of these matches – this will offer you a best-of glimpse into this underground sport) but I have to warn that Matt might come off to some as being a little bit on the preachy side at times – though he redeems himself by the end of the film and makes the point that he and he alone made the choices that he did; and that despite it all he doesn’t seem to regret the choices he made or the entertainment he provided. At first I found myself almost disliking the man, but found that by the conclusion of the film he was a mature young man who has enjoyed his life and maybe done a few dumb things but learned from them and overall looks at his life as something to be proud of. Whether or not you agree by the end of the film, I think most wrestling fans will agree that the man who portrays "Sick" Nick Mondo is a whole lot nicer and quite a bit more sane than the likes of New Jack; who also has a documentary based around his exploits called Hardcore. Definitely not quite as mature a work as this one

I am reviewing this film by the Director’s Cut of the film which didn’t have all of the lame Backyard Wrestling footage used in the XEG release on the DVD – so if anyone by chance picks it up I highly reccomend you skip right to the extras and watch the director’s version. You’ll be all the more rewarded for it. And with that said, hopefully all of you have learned of something new and dangerous – of which we can never get enough of, am I right? Check it out people, whether or not it’s your thing I think everyone would be helped in at least learning of this odd and ultraviolent culture just rife beneath our surface. Barbwire, light tubes and thumb tacks – Nick Mondo and his film reveals all.