Well, At Least There's No Link To Mr. Nanny
February 16, 2005 3:05 AM   Subscribe

In Japan it's a sport. In Canada, it's tradition. In Mexico, it's religion. In the US - it's a joke (NSFW language). Perhaps rightly so. In step with it’s history, American professional wrestling has a sordid, carnival-like backstage atmosphere, replete with insider slang. Extensive travel schedules and backstage politicking (QT movie, NSFW language) take their toll in the form of drug abuse and an unusually high mortality rate. While a few transition into mainstream careers, most don’t.

A billion-dollar industry , it has seen a fair share of success (NSFW image) over the years: Books, movies, video games, cartoons, records (not to mention an ECW nod in the lyrics to El Scorcho) and even punching John Stossel in the head. But it’s inconsistent and never seems to meet the level of popular acceptance as in other countries. It is, by and large, dismissed as a novelty for the NASCAR crowd, barely respected enough to be kitsch. In truth, it’s a back-breaking, death-defying, colorful soap opera of questionable taste that is anything but fake
posted by StopMakingSense (30 comments total)
My god, it's full of links!
posted by TwelveTwo at 3:43 AM on February 16, 2005

So, who was better, Macho Man Randy Savage or The (original) Undertaker?


(PS. the post subject may be rubbish, but the content is fabulous, well done)
posted by NinjaPirate at 4:07 AM on February 16, 2005

wrestling is rubbish? that's crazy! when it's done right, pro wrestling is one of the greatest forms of entertainment that has ever been concieved by man. unfortunately, it's difficult to find good wrestling in the u.s. ever since vince bought damn near all of his competition...

great post.

oh, and the original undertaker, hands down. no one could beat that guy back in the day...
posted by joedan at 4:45 AM on February 16, 2005

It's the circus for Fred and Barney. Early TV loved it:
Between 1948 and 1955, each of the three major television networks broadcast wrestling programs at one time or another (the first and longest-running show was aired by the old DuMont network, originally from the Marigold Arena in Chicago). Wrestling and boxing are both nocturnal, relatively brief, and confined to a small area, making them the most handily producible of sporting events for television. While the league sports were concerned that broadcasting live events would damage gate attendance, television paid off for wrestling. [...]

Gorgeous George’s success gave "camp" its modern meaning and brought forth a host of playful characters. The interview had come to stay: Wrestlers named Golden Superman, Dracula, and Ali Baba compensated for a lack of athletic ability or personality by successfully projecting a tailor-made television character "on the mike" (or "on the stick") as wrestlers say. (An exception was one "Mute Mike," a "deaf-and-dumb" wrestler of the early-T.V. era who relayed protests to the referee in sign language, miming cries of distress by pointing a finger at his open mouth.) Antonino Rocca’s leaping, whirling maneuvers eventually helped to begin the transformation of the wrestling exhibition from relatively slowly-paced displays of strength into a much faster, acrobatically sensational show.
posted by pracowity at 5:14 AM on February 16, 2005

Ladeez and gennelmen!

If you want real wrestling, look no further than the World of Sport broadcasts during the 70s and 80s. I used to watch this totally transfixed while huge men who seemed to either be a) one step away from a coronary and/or b) using boot polish to make it look like they still had hair. You used to get mad old women coming down ringside and hurling abuse at the er... athletes.

Here's some background info. And it's still on the Wrestling Channel from time to time.
posted by jackiemcghee at 5:22 AM on February 16, 2005

Gay porn for straight men. If you want to watch fighting, check out UFC and the myriad of similar events...if you want to watch drama, turn on pro-wrestling.

Regardless, the post is fabulously constructed and obviously took much time.
posted by baphomet at 5:46 AM on February 16, 2005

[this is good]

... gets cup of tea, settles in to start reading ...
posted by anastasiav at 5:56 AM on February 16, 2005

Bonus points to TwelveTwo for the 2001 drop.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:10 AM on February 16, 2005

So, who was better, Macho Man Randy Savage or The (original) Undertaker?

Rowdy Roddy Piper. Randy Savage never had to choose between chewing bubblegum and kicking alien ass, and I'm pretty damn sure that the Undertaker never went to Frogtown.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:26 AM on February 16, 2005

My grandmother used to watch wrestling in the 1950's television heyday, cursing at the wrestlers in Polish if her favorite didn't win.
posted by tommasz at 6:28 AM on February 16, 2005

I don't watch the current state of the game, but as a kid growing up in the '60s in Chicago, pro wrestling was a male bonding thing in my family. Occasionally my brother and I would have our own impromptu matches, with him as Bruiser and me as Crusher. He usually won. Them were the days.

And dad used to call it "rassling" - for me this is what distinguished it from collegiate style wrestling.
posted by SteveInMaine at 6:36 AM on February 16, 2005


I'm going to enjoy ploughing through this when I get home.

baphomet, I'm female, and I'm a big fan. To a degree you're right, wrestling is my EastEnders. I have little interest in UFC/Pride/K-1 or boxing. I don't watch just to see two men beat each other up, I watch for the spectacle, the music and pyro, the athletic and gymnastic skills on display, the psychology of a great match. It's much more than just drama.

I guess you get it or you don't. How many soap opera fans would regularly sit up til 4am to watch their show?
posted by corvine at 6:41 AM on February 16, 2005

Dont forget that Jerry Lawler ran for mayor of Memphis.
posted by jmgorman at 6:42 AM on February 16, 2005

Jake the Snake, former crack addict, now born again christian!
posted by tr33hggr at 6:51 AM on February 16, 2005

Just yesterday I heard ZZ Top's "Sharp Dressed Man" on the radio and I couldn't help but think about how that song will be forever linked in my brain to the Rock n' Roll Express.
posted by Cyrano at 6:53 AM on February 16, 2005

Oh come on, Hacksaw Jim Duggan could take Piper.
Hell, even Rick Flair could take Piper.

Prancing ninny.
posted by NinjaPirate at 6:54 AM on February 16, 2005

drop that extraneous 'k', will ya?

posted by NinjaPirate at 6:56 AM on February 16, 2005

I trained to wrestle for a little while around the age of 20. It was the most grueling, painful thing I've ever done. I'd go home every night with huge bruises, and I still sport a chipped tooth because of it. In the end, I certainly didn't have what it takes. I'm just saying this before someone makes the inevitable "harmless as ballet" comparison.

Another downside to Vince's product is that all American indy promotions (what's left of them) feel like they have to deliver the same type of schtick or else kids will go home disappointed. There's not as much skill and creativity in American wrestling as in the foreign counterparts IMO. Most WWE matches are just punch-punch-spot-punch-spot-finish. Throw in some hysterics and lingerie, and call it a night.

If anyone thinks they could potentially be interested in watching pro wrestling but are left wanting by the WWE, I suggest looking around for some Mexican Luchador tapes, or Japanese strong style matches.
posted by patgas at 7:12 AM on February 16, 2005 [1 favorite]

So, who was better, Macho Man Randy Savage or The (original) Undertaker?

Andre the Giant. 'Nuff said.

The "Worst of Wrestling" link reminded me of the worst wrestling entrance of all time, The Shockmaster. (video of the debacle)

Poor guy didn't stand a chance.
posted by unsupervised at 7:32 AM on February 16, 2005

or Ring of Honour which I hear is pretty good. I saw a Loki vs. Christopher Daniels match awhile ago form them that was off the hook.
posted by PenDevil at 7:37 AM on February 16, 2005

NinjaHonour - what do you mean "even Ric Flair"??

The Nature Boy is only the greatest professional wrestler of the last 20 years!!!
posted by papakwanz at 7:45 AM on February 16, 2005

Isn't being the greatest professional wrestler the same sort of thing as being the smartest retard or the tallest midget?
posted by C.Batt at 8:27 AM on February 16, 2005

My only wrestling anecdote: My employer was once a well-known TV announcer for a regional wrestling circuit. Shortly after he left the (rapidly declining) business, a promoter sent him a videotape and asked if he wanted to help start a new wrestling league. My boss promised to look at the proposal but promptly forgot about it. He found the videotape about a decade later and for fun decided to play it.

Yep. Vince McMahon. WWF. Before either one were known by anybody. Looking for a business partner.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 9:02 AM on February 16, 2005

posted by ludwig_van at 9:03 AM on February 16, 2005

Ring of Honor is awesome, and I hear that some of the other Chicago/midwest indie promotions are quite good. As for WWE, as far as I'm concerned the real action's in the cruiserweights. Paul London and Akio are being woefully underused. WWE's recent show taped in Japan was much better than it usually is, which leads me to believe that maybe they know how to put on a better show than they thnk the US audience wants.
posted by hades at 10:12 AM on February 16, 2005

...the inevitable "harmless as ballet" comparison

Which isn't all that bad a comparison, really, if you know what professional ballet dancers put themselves through. The difference between ballet and pro wrestling (besides the obvious) is that in ballet, they're trying to make it look like it doesn't hurt, and in pro wrestling they're trying to make it look like it does.
posted by hades at 10:44 AM on February 16, 2005 [1 favorite]

Interestingly enough, a *real* wrestler (olympic) annonunced a few weeks ago that he's now running for national parliament in Canada.
posted by anthill at 11:45 AM on February 16, 2005

I dunno, baphomet I've watched some UFC in my day, and from what I can tell, it's about 15 minutes of two half naked dudes straddling each other and wiggling around.

Though, that's not to say that Pro Wrestling doesn't have a gay fanbase.

I, for one, just watch it for the articles.
posted by StopMakingSense at 1:33 PM on February 16, 2005

Rasslin' was a ritual in my family when I lived in Georgia in the early 80's. I'd sometimes watch all the regional shows we could get during the day. Saturday nights step-grandfather would come over with an assortment of canned soda and Little Debbie's snack cakes and we'd watch the NWA. I miss the great Gordon Solie, that man was truly a poet.
posted by black8 at 2:02 PM on February 16, 2005

Ghostinthemachine -

Technically, Vince McMahon didn't really start a new promotion. He took his father's old WWWF
(a regional promotion), changed the name, and started gobbling up other small regional outfits.

And anthill, interestlingly enough, a *real* wrestler (Olympic gold medalist Kurt Angle) has been in the WWF(WWE) for a few years now.
posted by papakwanz at 10:43 AM on February 17, 2005

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