On Friday, May 25, Showtime debuted their original documentary movie Bipolar Rock ‘N’ Roller (it will be available On Demand starting on May 26). The Showtime documentary is about renowned sports commentator Mauro Ranallo (WWE, Showtime Boxing, and MMA), and his continuous battle with bipolar disorder. As the Inquisitr recently reported, Mauro Ranallo has been very open about his struggle with the disorder, and he’s hoping that Bipolar Rock ‘N’ Roller casts a bigger light on mental health issues and helps spread awareness. The Showtime film is directed by his longtime friend and former colleague Haris Usanovic.
The film opens up with an 18-year-old Ranallo cutting a promo in a home video as he pretends to be a world-renowned pro-wrestling commentator. It then shows a series of flash-cuts between him calling a series of wrestling matches, boxing bouts, and MMA fights all in between shots of Mauro having a series of breakdowns. The very first minute of this film is absolutely gripping and emotionally moving as we hear the commentator in tears stating, “I am a fu**ing prisoner of my own fu**king mind.”
It then shifts to adorable childhood photos of Ranallo on his childhood six-acre farm outside of Vancouver British Columbia, Canada. His Italian-born parents, Dulia and Elio Ranallo, and his brother, Romolo, described his passion for speaking and reading comics. Mauro said he learned that his voice was a powerful instrument at an early age, and he learned to embrace his talent of speaking. He utilized his imagination to escape the farm life (he had no aspirations of becoming a farmer).
He said that by the time he was 5-years-old, he knew what he wanted to do. He fell in love with pro wrestling, and through the years, he would attend every live wrestling event that he could. By the time he was 16-years-old, he was a commentator for All Star Wrestling. As he recalled this story and what it meant to him, he was so grateful that he was moved to tears. Bipolar Rock ‘N’ Roller reveals clips of him as a young commentator, and with his charisma and energy, he looked more like a wrestling manager than a commentator. Others caught on to this, and he eventually became a manager and footage even showed him in the ring as a wrestler.
Mauro spoke of his best friend, Michael John, who passed away at an early age, and their friendship was born in pro wrestling. It was a hot day, and Michael sat under a tree, and sadly, he never woke up. Mauro’s younger brother, Ezio, recalled how this really messed Mauro up. After Michael’s death, he suffered a major breakdown, and for the first time, he was admitted into a hospital. This was the first time the sports commentator battled deep depression, and he was just 19-years-old.
In the hospital, the young wrestling personality was overmedicated and described himself at the time as being paralyzed in his own mind. Because of complications due to overmedication, he was diagnosed with manic depression, which is now called bipolar disorder. The disorder contains two different states: depression and mania (periods of extreme lows and periods of extreme elation). The Showtime documentary shows Mauro’s personality during both states, and it reveals how debilitating this disorder is.
The film continued to follow the young commentator’s career, and he eventually ended up in the famed Stampede Wrestling promotion of the famous Hart family in Calgary, Alberta. He dated Jenni Neidhart, sister of WWE’s Natalya and first daughter of wrestling legend Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart. She found him relatable because she suspects that some of her family suffered with the same things he suffers from. Wrestling fans are likely to love this part of the film, but even those that aren’t fans of sports entertainment will likely be captivated by this.
Bipolar Rock ‘N’ Roller follows the entire career of Mauro, from the WWE to Showtime Boxing, and his various breakdowns and struggles during his illustrious journey to the top of sports commentary. As he describes in the movie, he was very ill during his younger years, and many people around him didn’t understand him. Many of the clips shown are absolutely heartbreaking (a box of tissues will come in handy during this documentary), though very much needed to spread awareness of what being bipolar actually means.
In a powerful moment, the 48-year-old describes being in his mid-30s and being hospitalized once again. This is his eighth hospitalization. Footage shows him lying in bed in his home, seemingly hopeless, reading away for hours and revisiting classic videotapes of him as a pro wrestling commentator. In a feel-good moment of this story, he’s playing the keyboard and singing, and it shows him taking the big leap by moving to California to continue to pursue his dream.
The documentary also shows how medication is not always the answer, at least, the typical medication. Prescription pills would often have him wandering in a state of confusion during the night, sometimes urinating on other patients’ beds, but when he shifted to medical marijuana, he says it saved his life. He was able to compose himself and his thoughts and function on a clearer level.
This Showtime 75-minute film achieves many accomplishments. It shows how serious and debilitating bipolar is; it’s very educational and it’s a must-watch for anyone who suffers from bipolar or knows someone who suffers from this. It also tells the story of one man’s determination to achieve many great accomplishments, despite his enervating disorder. But most of all, Showtime’s Bipolar Rock ‘N’ Roller is Mauro Ranallo’s inspirational story about hope, smashing a stigma, and his sheer willingness to continue on despite how bleak things may seem.