In the lead-up to its episode “Welcome to My Nightmare, The Chris Colt Story”, VICE’s Dark Side of the Ring kept promoting that Colt was “The best wrestler you’ve never heard of.”

Good tag line, but not exactly correct.

Steven Johnson and I featured him in our 2007 book, The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Heels, since we had both been long fascinated by Colt and his story — which was very much in question at that point.

So many questions at the time The Heels came out were unanswered. Was he alive? Did he die of AIDS? We did our best, and the wrestling world helped with a lot through the years, including two masterful pieces here on the site: Colt’s gay films a purposeful dig and Mat Matters: When Chris Colt met Joe Cocker.

But unlike, say, last week’s episode on Harley Race, which didn’t really break a ton of new ground, the Dark Side of the Ring on Colt only added to the mystique and the story.

One cannot watch it and not want to learn even more.

The gem running through the episode was the reading of an unfinished, unpublished manuscript that Colt — born Charles Harris — had written with hopes of eventually seeing it out there. Like so many things about Colt, this too would have been ahead of its time, a book that revealed a lot of behind the scenes of professional wrestling years before it became commonplace.

Unlike the A&E Biography shows on WWE wrestlers, when you tune into Dark Side you’re always going to meet new faces, and that was especially true this week. Historian Tom Burke (rocking a “Lobsterman for President” T-shirt), Vicki Otis / Princess Victoria, “Big” Bill Anderson who teamed with Colt as Bill Colt, and Moondog Ed Moretti (more famous now perhaps as Nick Wayne’s grandpa) all were valuable talking heads remembering someone who confounded them too.

Leave it to Jim Cornette to sum Colt up, cracking that “Ozzy Osbourne was Mother Teresa compared to Chris Colt.”

Sex, drugs and rock’n’roll times a thousand is only the start with Colt, who partied with Janis Joplin and worked (and drank) with Joe Cocker.

His origin story begins in Idaho, but he grew up in small-town Oregon. According to his niece, Rhonda Rondeau, the family was normal all week, but on weekends, the alcohol took over and it was an abusive and violent situation. Young Chuck, a wrestling fan, escaped the life and heads to Chicago, where he earned money as a male prostitute to train to be a pro wrestler.

From there, it’s territory after territory, gimmick after gimmick: The effeminate Maurice Chevalier, the Nazi Chris von Colt, The Chris Colt Experience with “Welcome to my Nightmare” as his theme song (and they left out many other gimmicks and territories, including where I learned about him, as “Crazy” Chris Colt on “Bearman” Dave McKigney’s summer tours).

His longest run came alongside his real-life lover and tag team partner Ron Dupree, where they were the Duprees and also the California Hell’s Angels. When Dupree suffered a heart attack and couldn’t wrestle, Colt tried different partners including Anderson and Mike Boyette. Nothing ever lasted, and when Dupree died at ringside with Colt in the ring, that was the final straw that truly left Colt rudderless and free to dive deeper into his demons.

Since the episode had less wrestling than usual, there was less need for the Dark Side reenactments that we have all come to expect … but the one with the spiders entering the ring while Colt was high on LSD — and then going out into the crowd, swinging away — might just be the production’s greatest ever re-creation.

Eventually, Colt walked away from wrestling, cutting all ties. He became a name whispered about, the rumors growing through the years.

Then Colt showed up in gay porn. Director Jack Fritscher, Ph.D., who filmed and participated in the movies, was a compelling and very different talking head, and even my son, overhearing this line from Fritscher from across the room, knew it was gold: “Pro wrestling has always been softcore porn for gay men, and Chris knew that as a wrestler he himself was a fetish object.”

What followed was the mystery of how Colt died, which differed from person to person, not unlike the stories we gathered for The Heels.

The official death certificate noted that AIDS played a part. Colt was 49 when he died.

Kudos to Dark Side of the Ring for truly contributing to the furthering of wrestling scholarship with this episode, as opposed to regurgitating and sensationalizing the same old same old.

Chris Colt was one of a kind and I want to learn even more now. You will too.