The lives of professional wrestlers are neither fake nor fixed. Their realities are complicated and exhausting, both physically and mentally. Wrestlers face a multitude of challenges involving their family, friends, health, relationships and vices.

But fans of professional wrestling are often left wondering about what is real and what isn’t about their favorite stars. And that is where a host of new docuseries and scripted dramas come into play.

Modern docuseries often play to fans’ nostalgic love of wrestling. Many of those fans, now older and maybe longing for their days of youth, are eager to remember their past heroes and learn more about what happened outside the ring. Thanks to the heavy use of archival footage and interviews, docuseries can provide mostly over-the-top drama involving wrestling superstars like Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage and prominent promoters, managers, agents and fans. Some of these third parties were minor celebrities themselves, like Capt. Lou Albano, Mr. Fuji, Jimmy ‘Mouth of the South’ Hart and the Grand Wizard. Docuseries can also provide unbelievable behind the scenes insight and access to pro wrestling’s key figures, the network, the studio and the company that fans can never get in the weekly shows or pay-per-view matches.

Even for casual viewers, these docuseries can be entertaining. They present compelling – and very relatable – human interest stories that examine the hopes, dreams and struggles of wrestlers. There’s also the cultural aspect of pro wrestling, and how it affects society. Pro wrestling started touching on diversity and inclusion of different cultures before that was even considered by most other media.

One of the more prominent wrestling docuseries is Dark Side of the Ring, which is kicking off its fourth season on May 30. Narrated by my client Chris Jericho and produced by Vice Studios, the program offers viewers new insights into some of the sport’s most famous incident and tragedies. Past episodes have looked at the double life of Chris Kanyon (a former client who is now deceased), the rise of the Fabulous Moolah, the final days of Owen Hart, and the tragic story of the Benoit family. (Side note: The Dark Side of the Ring was the highest rated program in Vice’s history and has resulted in multiple spinoffs, including Dark Side of Football, Dark Side of the 90’s, and Dark Side of Comedy.)

The WWE also offers several wrestling-themed docuseries, including WWE Most Wanted Treasures. That program, hosted by another client of mine, WWE Hall of Famer Mick Foley, aka Cactus Jack, aka Mankind, focuses on the hunt for wrestling memorabilia and collectibles. Past episodes involved Foley searching for memorabilia from Jake “The Snake” Roberts, Jerry “The King” Lawler, Sgt. Slaughter and The Undertaker.

While not a docuseries, a new movie starring Zac Efron also promises to give fans a behind the scenes look at professional wrestling. Called The Iron Claw, the movie will tell the story of the wrestling world during the 1970s, 80s and 90s through the prism of the Von Erich family. Chavo Guerrero Jr., yet another one of my clients, is a technical consultant on the movie and helped teach Efron and the rest of the wrestling cast how to handle themselves in the ring.

As more wrestling promotions (AEW, Impact, New Japan, etc.) and media platforms (Netflix, Peacock, A&E, Vice Media, USA, Fox, TBS/TNT, YouTube, etc.) launch and expand, more docuseries will provide audiences more stories about what happens behind the scenes. I look forward to learning more about the stars, and maybe helping tell some of their stories.

While I enjoy these wrestling docuseries, their recent rise in popularity generates a host of legal issues for my clients, including, but not limited to, the right of publicity, right of privacy, commercial misappropriation, copyright infringement, name, image, and likeness (NIL) concerns.

Docuseries often portray wrestlers in a sensationalist or negative fashion to peak viewer interest. And a majority of these docuseries do not obtain the life rights or release of depiction rights from the wrestler or the wrestler’s estate. On Dark Side of the Ring, for example, many of the episodes tell the story of well-known wrestlers who died under tragic circumstances. There is no release obtained from that wrestler or estate. Most of those stories are in the public domain or court record, whether it be the tragic story of Chris Benoit, who took his life and the lives of his family following a battle with substance abuse, or the story of Joan Laurer pka Chyna, who fatally overdosed on a mixture of alcohol and prescription medicine.

I work very hard to protect my client’s names and legacies. Wrestlers like John Cena and Dallas Page are role models for kids, fans and businesses. Others, including Jesse Ventura and Glen Jacobs pka Kane, become politicians.

On Hidden Treasures, the memorabilia depicted raises copyright issues and ownership/clearance questions. It is very important that the show obtain a consent or release for exhibition for the memorabilia depicted, and for the purposes used. Similarly, in All Access, releases from individuals to be depicted and products shown need to be obtained. It is critically necessary to secure clearances, licenses, and rights agreements to avoid copyright infringement and other intellectual property violations.

Apart from the athletic ability a wrestler has, the most important asset is their name. It is critical to protect the name from improper use, whether it be the unauthorized marketing of a product or something else that could taint it.

With countless viewers interested in stories about these dynamic, incredible and colorful wrestlers, wrestling docuseries are here to stay. We just need to make sure they are done right.