It seems pretty clear that Jimmy Snuka did kill Nancy Argentino. Or at least, it's pretty clear that everyone is pretty sure he did. The role of the documentarian is a debatable position. Some would state that it is to report the facts and nothing more, some would argue that presenting the facts for both sides but with a personal bias can be allowed, as long as it seems that they aren't editing them to make one side feel more correct. But how does that work when the truth is very clearly biased in itself?
This week's episode of Dark Side of the Ring concerns the case of Jimmy Snuka, a very popular wrestler who may have killed his girlfriend Nancy Argentino in 1983. It also is concerned with whether there were any efforts to cover up her death, though obviously, many details from this end have to be left purposely vague to avoid any potential slander action.
There is a lot to admire about the presentation here, taking a methodical approach in building its case, explaining how if it did happen, that the circumstances of Jimmy Snuka's particular combination of substance-induced possible psychosis and adrenaline were a proverbial powder keg waiting for the slightest hint of a spark.
I think to have the major talking heads we hear from being Argentino's sisters, along with his frequent travel buddy Tonga Kid and longtime rival Don Muraco, benefits keeping the focus on a case involving a wrestler rather than making it a wrestling story with a murder in it.
The true heartbreak of this is that it seems no one near Snuka was fully surprised that something like this happened and had been trying to get him out of Argentino's life and reports of previous incidents of Snuka's behaviour towards Argentino basically make him sound like a human red flag.
But as much as it seems important to cover the facts in such detail, it does feel like something of the presentation doesn't befit the content. Chris Jericho's narration is somewhat flat, seeming like he's very much attempting a delivery so as not to distract from the central content, and instead, it pulls more focus than just reading it naturally. And the silhouette-heavy recreation style that is so effective in some of the other editions of Dark Side feels kind of exploitative here examining a human tragedy.
It might be more my issue is with the somewhat queasy nature of true crime documentary styling. While I will watch any number of documentaries on cults or dictators or people who abuse tigers for a living, for some reason, building entertainment out of actual murder seems a line that is uncomfortable to cross.
The thing is, leaving a bitter taste in my mouth is probably the intent as we can't forget that whatever happens, this isn't a story about wrestling, this is a story about if a wrestler was involved in a cover-up of the murder of his girlfriend/mistress. Even the sections involving Tonga Kid, the one man in the documentary who seems to have doubts that the Snuka he knew could actually do such a heinous act, still pretty much denies Snuka's attempt at an alibi.
Within the style Dark Side goes for, it's well-produced, perhaps a little overproduced as sometimes the soundtrack's attempts to tell you how to feel about any particular situation is somewhat overwhelming.
I like that they are willing to tell these stories with such raw honesty but I can't help but escape the feeling that with the evidence presented, suggesting this is an open-and-shut case, that we didn't need the narrative being manipulated to make us believe it is such.
Jimmy Snuka and The Death of Nancy Argentino airs on Vice TV UK tonight at 10 PM.
All images courtesy of Dark Side of the Ring Facebook and Instagram and VICE TV, and Video courtesy of Vice TV YouTube.