Directed by Igan Hecht, The Sheik—born Hossein Khosrow Ali Vaziri—provides a surprisingly intimate look at the legendary wrestler’s career, from his days as a bodyguard for the Shah of Iran, his move to the United States and his job as an assistant coach of two U.S. Olympic wrestling teams. For those familiar with mid-eighties WWE (than the WWF) the Iron Sheik become a star, as the champion Americans loved to hate. The Sheik covers a serious of events that leads to his downfall, but also his present-day incarnation as a social media celebrity.
There’s the wrestling footage you would expect, but there are plenty of surprises. The film doesn’t shy away from Vaziri’s issues with alcohol and hard drugs. He was arrested, and eventually let go from the WWF after being arrested for DUI and drug possession in 1987. From there, Vaziri spent years wrestling in small venues wherever he could, and drowning his sorrows with crack and marijuana. The second half of The Sheik covers Vaziri’s efforts to resurrect himself as a father and a husband, and reignite his career.
The Sheik is particularly good because it doesn’t try to paint a perfectly rosy picture. We are left knowing that Vaziri now has more good days than bad ones. The Sheik is a intriguing study of a man who spent the first part of his life as a star amateur wrestler, came to America and slowly became a part of pop culture—albeit a foreign menace—and gained the respect of fellow wrestlers for his skill, kindness, and willingness to mentor up-and-comers. Though he turned into a villain for the sake of entertainment, Vaziri is, when not completely out of his mind on drugs, is a really nice guy.
Several familiar faces pop up to give their thoughts on Vaziri including The Rock (who credits Vaziri with coining “Jabroni”), Hulk Hogan, Mick Foley, Jim Ross, Nikolai Volkoff, Jim Duggan, and Jack Black among others.
The DVD includes the theatrical trailer.