When it premiered on April 10th, 2019, Dark Side of the Ring became an instant hit. The program has presented stories about professional wrestling’s most controversial wrestlers, events and moments from names that were there, personalities that were part of the company and outside experts such as writers. In the time since its debut, its lead to a second season and is currently in the middle of its third season.
One thing it also spawned: two spin-offs. Dark Side of the 90’s, which debuts later this year, and Dark Side of Football, which premiered on May 13th. So far, the reviews on Dark Side of Football haven’t been as kind as those for Dark Side of the Ring. Through six episodes, IMDB has given it a 5.9 out of 10 (Dark Side of the Ring has 8.8), while Google gives the series an 86% liked the show (as compared to 92%).
So it leads to the question, why is the show not doing as well the original? Football is a more popular sport than professional wrestling, after all.
While some of it may have to do with the production of the show, most people point to the content as its major issue. Through six episodes, the show has dealt with “diva wide receivers,” New England Patriots’ head coach Bill Belichick, the Las Vegas Raiders signing linebacker Bill Romanowski, painkillers, the return of the Cleveland Browns and a demonstration that took place at a Philadelphia Eagles-Dallas Cowboys game. While interesting subjects, they’re missing point of the series.
As a comparison, let’s look at the subjects of the first season of Dark Side of the Ring: The first season had six episodes that dealt with Macho Man Randy Savage’s relationship with Miss Elizabeth, the Montreal Screwjob, the murder of Bruiser Brody, the curse of Von Erich family, the murder of Gorgeous Gino and transgressions of the Fabulous Moolah.
Do you see the difference?
The first six episodes of Dark Side of the Ring dealt with highly controversial issues, most of which shocked the wrestling world to its core. The same can’t be said with Dark Side of Football.
The description of Dark Side of the Ring according to IMBD goes as follows, “exploring the darkest stories from the golden age of professional wrestling and trying to find the truth at the intersection of fantasy and reality.” The same can be done for football but when the most controversial subjects to this point are players getting addicted to painkillers and Bill Belichick, then it may not be a good start to your programming.
Yes painkiller addiction amongst the players is a controversial thing and worthy of episode, but the rest just don’t seem to be on the same level. In a league like that NFL that has had various issues including the Colin Kaepernick saga, Michael Vick’s dog fighting ring, the New Orleans Saints bountygate scandal, concussions, and the Aaron Hernandez murders….the show chooses to talk more about Belichick.
While the argument that “it’s only the first season” can be made, the problem is a second season isn’t always guaranteed. If they make it to season two, they’ll need to ramp up the controversy but so far, they’ll be lucky to get renewed.
Vice knows they have something special on Dark Side of the Ring, and potentially something golden with Dark Side of the 90’s. However, if they can’t straighten out Dark Side of the Football, then it could throw 90’s into some doubt before it debuts.