Canadian filmmaker and journalist Omar Mouallem has worked with outlets as diverse as The Guardian and Rolling Stone, but nothing could prepare him for professional wrestling.

And he didn’t just try it, he filmed it, for a documentary, Making Kayfabe: The Private Lives of Indie Wrestlers, which is debuting on Friday, February 23 on CBC Gem.

The 38-year-old Alberta native was always a fan of wrestling growing up. Mouallem and his family would watch wrestling on TV and a cherished memory was when his dad took him and his brother to a WWF event in Edmonton, at Rexall Place. Mouallem reminisced that leaving with “those Styrofoam belts” was a pride moment in and of itself.  and just being so proud of it.”

Mouallem pitched the idea of documenting the journey to CBC. The corporation was on board but that was the easy part. He had trouble finding a wrestling organization that would take him in and was open to him filming the experience. Going into it, the filmmaker’s initial idea was going to have a wider scope of the history of Alberta wrestling, but then he realized that different promotions were not open to working with each other — or a newbie wanting to learn the business. One promotion said okay and then delivered an ultimatum that he couldn’t work with any other. He decided to move on and found Love Pro Wrestling.

“It just became a story of the Love Pro Wrestling world, which I think in the end helped make for a better movie because it was more focused,” Mouallem explained to “Love Pro Wrestling was very unique in some ways. They were very much good vibes and had no egos, so they were unique in that way, but at the same time they were like 100 other promotions across North America. So, they could also be a stand in for any indie wrestling company.”

Fake Nooz Neville aka Omar Mouallem get strangled by Michael Richard Blais.

Fake Nooz Neville — aka Omar Mouallem–  get strangled by Michael Richard Blais. Photo by Kyler Zeleny

The film also has some cinematic influences of observational documentaries, specifically You Cannot Kill David Arquette. Mouallem wanted the film to be as if the viewer was a fly on a wall and have a different take from other series, like The Dark Side of The Ring.

“One of the things I love about them (wrestling documentaries) is also something I dislike about how wrestling is seen,” Mouallem said. “What all those have in common is that they represent wrestling as something kind of grim, dangerous, gruff and gritty industry. The whole premise of The Dark Side of The Ring, is to present wrestling of having a dark underbelly. While often that is historically true, I don’t know if that represents contemporary wrestling.”

He said that it doesn’t represent the wrestling he had immersed himself in. With Making Kayfabe, Mouallem wanted to display the inclusive and welcoming wrestling community came to know.

“That tone and theme was something I wanted to show not only as an authentic view of indie wrestling, but a counter argument to what is usually portrayed,” he said.

The filming process almost took an entire year to complete, including post-production.

Making Kayfabe: The Private Lives of Indie Wrestlers.

Making Kayfabe: The Private Lives of Indie Wrestlers.

In the film, it takes a dive into Mouallem’s life and partially the lives of the indie wrestlers. Michael Richard Blais, Spencer Love, Taryn “From Accounting” Kroll and Ahmed Kheiri will feature in the film to get some insight into the indie scene. Viewers get to see three sessions out of the three months of training Mouallem had, the introduction to his character (eventually they settle on Fake Nooz Neville), as well as the one and only match of his career.

The match Mouallem participated in is a tag team affair that lasted 35 minutes. Going into the bout, he said it was like nothing he’s ever felt before.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been this nervous in my life and I’ve performed a lot,” he said. “I used to be a rapper, I’ve performed on many stages, I’ve done a lot of public speaking, I’ve been on camera for interviews or being interviewed. I’ve been on live TV, on some big TV networks, and I was not as nervous as I’ve ever been in the ring.”

He said that there was a lot at stake. The reputation of the wrestling promotion and his movie was on the line, if he messed up, everything would fall on him.

For Mouallem, wrestling is a one time thing — he definitely has no plans of returning to the ring.

Making Kayfabe: The Private Lives of Indie Wrestlers will be streaming on CBC Gem tonight, Friday, Feb. 23.

TOP PHOTO: Fake Nooz Neville aka Omar Mouallem preparing for his match.