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Cageside Review: ‘Superfan: The Story of Vladimir’

The long-awaited WWE documentary about its most devoted fan is now available to stream, and it was worth the wait.


A long-awaited WWE documentary about its greatest fan quietly became available to stream over the weekend.

Superfan: The Story of Vladimir is now available to watch on Peacock and the WWE Network (internationally). The short film focuses on Vladimir Abouzeide, a lifelong wrestling fan with a passion unlike anyone else.

The description of the documentary reads:

“The life story of Vladimir Abouzeide, one of the most devoted and recognizable fans in WWE history, who came to Manhattan from Haiti as a child and quickly found his passion for living through sports-entertainment.”

The doc was expected to be released in 2021. But then it got shelved before quietly making its way to WWE’s streaming networks on the last weekend of October. And while it’s cliché to say it was worth the wait, it’s also true.

So, who is Vladimir Abouzeide, or Vlad as he’s lovingly referred to, and why is he so important?

Today, modern fans are familiar with regular attendees such as Superfan Smilez, the guy seated in the front row at nearly every WWE premium live event in his bright neon green shirt.

But well before the era of Smilez and other passionate fans, Vlad was a trailblazer. He became a familiar face at WWE televised shows and pay-per-views from the 1980s through the 2000s. His distinctive appearance, characterized by broad spectacles and even broader shoulders, immediately drew the attention of TV audiences. As depicted in the film, Vlad was in remarkable physical shape, looking like he could easily pass for a wrestler.

But what truly distinguishes him from all other fans is his boundless enthusiasm. He was frequently seen on his feet, enthusiastically cheering for the superstars who graced the ring.

One of his most memorable onscreen interactions occurred at the 1996 Survivor Series, where he’s pumping up Sid moments before a WWE title match, barking back at the giant, “You the man! You the man!”

Throughout the film, WWE legends like Shawn Michaels, Hulk Hogan, and Jeff Jarrett share their memories of Vlad, with Michaels saying he saw Vlad as often as his own family. The documentary explores various myths about Vlad’s persona and attendance before revealing the touching truth about the man behind the fan.

As passionate as Vlad is for pro wrestling, his true love is his mother, and that love will resonate deeply with those with a close bond with their parent or parents. According to Vlad, she was a single mother who worked hard to support her six kids after emigrating from Haiti.

Vlad cared for her, but in 2020, they both faced hardships. Vlad injured his hip and required six months of rehabilitation. His mother suffered a fall, which led to rehab in a nursing home. Sadly, she contracted COVID, ultimately resulting in her passing days after they exchanged what would be their final “I love yous.”

“This is what I want back: my mom back. I want wrestling back,” said an emotional Vlad. “These are the two things that keep me alive over the years.”

Following his mom’s passing and with the world on lockdown due to the pandemic, Vlad had no place to go, as the arenas were closed to fans. He admits to attempting suicide three times before seeking therapy. Later, we see him receiving an uplifting message from Michaels, Hogan, Jarrett, and Sgt. Slaughter, with Michaels inviting him back to shows once they opened for business.

Just as Vlad’s pain is evident, so is his joy as he prepares to attend WrestleMania 37 with his friend Charlie Adorno, also a well-known superfan. Despite being in his 60s and having attended over a thousand live events, according to the film, Vlad radiates childlike enthusiasm, which is likely to make viewers smile like kids themselves.

In the final scenes, Vlad interacts with various stars during his ‘Mania excursion, including Kevin Owens and Damian Priest, who expressed their honor in meeting him. Toward the end, Vlad receives a special honor from Triple H and his wife, Stephanie McMahon, a richly framed WWE Championship front plate with a gold inscription that reads:

Official Superfan

Awarded to Vladimir Abouzeide

WrestleMania, April 2021

Superfan: The Story of Vladimir stands out as one of WWE’s finest documentaries. It celebrates the shared passion of fans and pays tribute to the special bond between a son and his mother. Vlad’s story embodies the best in all of us and serves as a heartfelt exchange between fans and performers, evoking a wide range of emotions before ending on a high note.

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