Saturday, August 14, 2004

THE history of pro wrestling

What’s happened with professional wrestling? It’s an important question and one LT readers consistently ask me to comment on. Well, I have no easy answers, but the most likely one is the corrupting influence of money. I mean, you could say that with any sport, but pro wrestling is unique – it’s fake. Why, exactly, did money ruin this sport? Wrestling has come a long way. I admit, I haven’t been a fan since the beginning, and I’m certainly not a fan now. I was a fan during the true ‘golden era’ of professional wrestling: 1982-1990. I need to give my props to my blogger in arms, the humungous. He’s the one who got me interested in the first place. It all started at a stinking, run down arena called robarts where I had the privilege and honor of seeing one of the all time great wrestlers work his magic: chief wahoo mcdaniel (may he rest in peace). i'll come back to this.

pro wrestling has consistently had a redneck fan base. i'm not a redneck. you can describe me as hyper educated upper lower middle class type - not your typical pro wrestling fan, at least of that era. what happened? well, as we all know, young boys are always looking for larger than life role models. in the 60s, it was astronauts, in the 70s it was ethnic, hairy chested disco dancer types; by the early 80s, young boys were idolizing politicians. yes, it's true. but just as this infatuation with political superstars heated up, something happened: reaganomics. Reagan’s cold, heartless economic policies made it uncool (again) to idolize politico types. but what could fill the void? what came as a surprise to many, it was pro wrestling. i remember as if it were yesterday, going into my room and tearing down my poster of george mcgovern, shirtless, provocatively leaning against a harley davidson, and replacing it with a poster of the junkyard dog.

this was the beginning of an 8 year long love affair with pro wrestlers. without fail, the most legit, exciting, and dangerous wrestlers in the world were the von erich brothers. it was almost easy to forget wrestling was fake with these guys, as you watched them in a death cage match, in texas stadium, with 80 thousand rabidly screaming rednecks in the background. i use to get goosebumps when kerry von erich ripped off his members only jacket after jumping into the ring.

today's wrestlers are too pretty. they flaunt the fake ness of the sport. the key difference between today's wrestlers and those of the 80s is that those wrestlers hated each other. sure, it was still fake, but the fans knew dusty rhodes truly hated nikita koloff. to dusty, fighting nikita meant something. it meant something for all americans that he put this commie in his place. and when the match was over, dusty (dusty, by the way, was called "the american dream." and the beauty of this is that he really thought he was. for his fans, he WAS the dream.) would spit at nikita and tell him to go to hell. today, it's obvious the wrestlers don't hate each other. i can just imagine the rock finishing a match with cold stone steve austin and then going for a latte afterwards. they probably share an agent, and attend yoga sessions together. they go through the motions of their scripted matches and then in bed by 10pm. the whole lot of them are nothing but a bunch of metrosexuals.

man, i remember seeing chief wahoo mcdaniel KICKING SOME ASS at that first match i went to and thinking this guy must be a millionaire. how could he not be, he was a mega celebrity, at least in my eyes. and then afterwards, seeing 'the chief', battered, bruised, leaving the ring and cramming his 6 foot, 7 inch body into a beat up used chevette. now THAT is legit.

i guess the beginning of the end was with hulk hogan and that era of wrestlers. i guess the first sign was the cartoon spinoff. at the time i thought these guys were just getting their due. they were pop culture giants so why shouldn't they get their own cartoon? what better american status symbol is there than getting one own's cartoon.

but what i couldn't see at the time was that wrestling's new found popularity was making the sport silly. the raw, chilling, blood filled days of the von erichs was coming to an end and the beginning of the entertainment empire of WWF was just starting.

one can only wax nostalgic for a time that brought together toothless yokels, with bird chested pretty boys like me. but when wrestling was overwhelmed with popularity (and money), it lost its innocent, depraved appeal. i didn't leave the sport, it left me.



At August 14, 2004 at 10:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't believe you have the time to waste writing blogs about pro wrestling. How about cleaning the kitchen or doing some laundry?

Master Blaster's Wife


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