The BBC asks, "Why do wrestlers so often die young?" After aggregating the multiple studies of professional wrestler mortality, a Manchester University researcher points the finger at "cardiovascular disease". One of the studies he examined was a grim University of Eastern Michigan mortality study of 557 former wrestlers which showed that wrestlers aged between 45 and 54 had a mortality rate 2.9 times greater than the rate for average men the same age. And the prognosis for professional wrestlers is even worse when compared to athletes in other American sports. Even when compared to NFL football. [more inside]
Professional wrestler Tommy Rogers (real name Thomas Couch), best known as one half of the tag team The Fantastics, has passed away at the age of 54. According to Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer, Rogers "...had been having legal troubles in recent years stemming from fighting. He was to be sentenced tomorrow over a fight with police officers and feared a long prison stay." [more inside]
With WrestleMania 31 mere hours away, let's talk about representation in pro wrestling. And really, lessons that apply for any form of entertainment.
If you don’t use positive representation to speak to new fans who look different, who act different, who have new ideas, you’ll never have new fans at all.If You Can't See It, You Can't Be It: The Importance of Representation in Modern Day Wrestling [more inside]
The name Jim Harris probably doesn't mean much to many pro wrestling fans, however, most would be very familiar with his alter ego, Kamala. Billed as hailing from Uganda, Kamala, who never spoke, was portrayed as a dangerous, cannibalistic savage. After debuting the Kamala gimmick in Memphis in 1982, his career peaked in the mid-80s when he had a main event level feud with the biggest star of the era, Hulk Hogan. Unfortunately, as detailed in this article from the Bleacher Report, the past few years have been challenging for Harris both medically and financially, but he maintains a positive outlook. [more inside]
Lost Dog: The Search For A Forgotten New Orleans Superhero
On a recent Friday night in the Harahan Community Center, the master of ceremonies had the capacity crowd’s attention. “This here,” he promised, “this tonight is gonna be some old-school professional wrestling.” All of us cheered. “Some of you may remember– folks my age, a little younger– the kind of old-school wrestling New Orleans was famous for. I’m talking about a certain Bill Watts. I’m talking about the Junkyard Dog.” Some jumped to their feet, howling in approval. “Junkyard Dog!” they shouted. Most just clapped politely. When I spoke to people outside during the show’s intermission, no-one younger than forty had much to say about Junkyard Dog. Of the younger attendees, a few knew he was from here, but to the majority he was just another name, a minor figure from the distant days of Hulk Hogan. Thirty years ago, Junkyard Dog was a New Orleans demigod.[more inside]
Professional wrestling's relationship with homosexuality and non-heteronormative presentation has long been downright hostile: from Gorgeous George in the 1950s, to "Pretty Boy" Pat Patterson in the 1970s, "Adorable" Adrian Adonis in the 1980s, Golddust in the 1990s, the infamous Billy and Chuck in the 2000s, and even Orlando Jordan in the 2010s, wrestlers who present as effeminate or who "might be gay" have always been portrayed as heels, drawing boos from the crowd. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the suggestion of female homosexuality has been called upon only to titillate. And although former performers like Patterson and the late Chris Kanyon publicly acknowledged their homosexuality after their active careers had ended, and though the WWE recently hired openly-gay retired professional golfer Jane Geddes as VP of Talent Relations, there hasn't been an active, out WWE Superstar until now, when Darren Young, asked if he thought there was a place for a gay wrestler, told TMZ that he's "gay ... and happy."
On the eve of their 4th internet pay-per-view extravaganza, rumours abound of a cataclysmic denouement for the unique independent wrestling company. With wrestlers prone to accidental time-travel, dimensional warping and mind-control by ancient, cursed artifacts (not to mention outbreaks of goblins vs balloons and international games of duck-duck-goose whenever Osaka Pro come to visit), the Chikara workplace is stressful enough, but under the power-crazed directorship of Wink Vavasseur, and purported backstage strife, the promotion has been hemorrhaging talent for several months... [more inside]
Frank Deford, a 50-year veteran of Sports Illustrated, once labeled Meltzer the most accomplished reporter in sports journalism. “You could cover the Vatican or State Department,” Deford said recently, “and not do as good a job as Dave Meltzer does on wrestling.”For nearly 30 years, Dave Meltzer has published the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, featuring weekly behind the locker room door insight into the business of professional wrestling. How far reaching has Meltzer's impact been? In one famous incident, Hulk Hogan, frustrated by what he perceived as consistently negative coverage in the publication, burned a copy of the newsletter during a live Pay-Per-View event.
Bill Moody, best known as professional wrestling manager Paul Bearer, passed away Tuesday at the age of 58. [more inside]
CHIKARA Pro Wrestling is notable, in the wrestling world, for taking the position that intergender tag matches should just happen whenever men and women want to fake-fight one another - but perhaps this is just part of CHIKARA's particular worldview, which is one that includes a time-traveling knight from medieval times who came to the present day and then formed a tag team with another version of himself from three weeks later who also traveled in time to the present day and the Super Smash Bros., who are very defensive of the original Nintendo Entertainment System. At this year's King of Trios three-day super-event, two all-female teams competed, including the Sendai Girls from Sendai Girls' Pro Wrestling. The Sendai Girls made it to the semifinals where they competed against Team Ring of Honor in what was subsequently deemed by many wrestling fans to be the best intergender match yet wrestled in North America. This week, Chikara put the match up free on Youtube.
Some folks in CHIKARA Pro were having a wrestling match, and a baseball game broke out.
Secrets of Pro Wrestling (1987) What happens when these two wrestlers get a raw deal from their chosen profession? They don't get mad, the get even! (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, Trailer) [more inside]
While Hulk Hogan may have been professional wrestling's biggest box office star of the past generation, from a critical standpoint, Ric Flair is widely regarded as the most talented wrestler of the modern era in terms of actual in-ring ability, as well as being known as one of the best promo men (the ability to give entertaining interviews promoting upcoming matches) in the history of the business. In recent years, however, Flair's legacy has been tarnished, with his name more likely to be making news for any number of embarrassing out of the ring incidents and dire financial situation as for his in-ring exploits, to the point where comparisons to Randy “The Ram” Robinson are not out of place. Grantland explores Ric Flair's fall from grace in "The Wrestler in Real Life".
Spencer Baum's self-published first novel One Fall explores the world of professional wrestling through the eyes of an up-and-coming star, a taken-for-granted women's division wrestler, a head booker with no authority, and an internet fanboy, all trying to navigate the line between fiction and nonfiction. Baum is now releasing the novel one chapter at a time as a Creative Commons audiobook. The book closely parallels the Monday Night Wars, with sly references to infamous reality-blurring events like the Montreal Screwjob (the subject of an excellent National Film Board documentary you can now watch online) and Bash at the Beach 2000. (mild spoiler inside) [more inside]
RIP Fabulous Moolah. 84 year old Lillian Ellison died in Columbia, SC Friday. She was a wrestling champion for 28 years until losing her crown to Wendi Richter in 1983 in a match involving MTV and Cyndi Lauper. More here, here, and here, with obligatory YouTube link here.
Meet Obasan: Adorable demon-possessed little girl and Japanese professional wrestler for the horror-themed Triple Six promotion. More highlights: (1) (2)
These days, we remember the age of legends by reliving them, virtually. Is it a sign of the fall of civilization when modern leaders are so bland as to be indistinguishable from one another? Oh how I miss the golden years.