donít know why it is, but I wrote more features for
WrestlingClassics.com when Iím on business trips, a fact that
would concern my employer if they knew about my ďother lifeĒ
as a wrestling fan and writer.
As I write this, Iím in a TecForum session at the
Global OSS Summit in Miami.
The conference, hotel, and my time are all quite
expensive (my time, to be honest, less costly than the first
two). So it is with
a somewhat guilty conscience that I ponder the topic of Kurt
blessed to have a wide base of posters on the
WrestlingClassics.com Message Board with years of experience in
professional wrestling. Of
interest to me especially are those who spent time in Memphis.
Not necessarily because I grew up there (I didnít) or
because I love the products from that territory (I do).
What fascinates me the most about Memphis was the
incredible grind of the schedule.
Their loop consisted during the Jerry
Jarrett era of TV in Memphis on Saturday morning and a show
in Nashville on Saturday night, the big Mid-South Coliseum show
on Monday, Tuesday in Louisville and Wednesday in Evansville.
On top of that were usually spot shows and non-weekly
territory towns (Jonesboro, Tupelo or Jackson, for instance) on
Sunday Thursday, and Friday. If you got a couple of small shows
off, there were only 26 or 27 shows a month, month after month,
year after year. The
drives between each town ranged from 3 to 8 hours.
To keep this pace up, the style of match performance
adapted. It wasnít quite as stiff as Texas, not as hold-for-hold
demanding as the Mid-Atlantic region, not as big-man driven as
the WWWF. Mempho
was Mempho, now and forever, unlike anywhere else.
able to wrestle 200+ times a year and have an extended career
meant that wrestlers had to take care of themselves, and of each
other in the ring. Itís
something that Memphis wrestlers excelled at, the illusion of
violence. Itís a
psychological thing, really.
Lawlerís punches always looked better after he pulled
his shoulder strap down, and that little thing was something
that the fans believed in.
It didnít take true brutality, life-risking bumps, or
buckets of blood, although Memphis had all of these from time to
time. It took
wrestling skill, brains, and a body to pull it off.
look at the business today, I see a lot of big muscular guys,
with finely tuned bodies that look terrific on television and at
the arenas. These
bodies arenít designed to take the day-to-day punishment of
the style they wrestle. Bumps
arenít taken consistently.
Neck muscles arenít developed to absorb the impact of
headfirst dives and drops.
This is the crux of the problem.
Amateur wrestlers can spar hours on end, day after day,
without the risk of serious injury, because huge impacts
arenít at the heart of their sport.
Today, you can see a 15-minute match without one real
hold, just a rear chin lock so the combatants can catch their
breath before the next flip over the top rope or brawl into the
brings me back to Kurt Angle.
I believe that the wrestling business, to thrive into my
childrenís generation, must evolve back to get back to the
days of long careers. It
isnít easy to build a star, period, much less have to do it
year after year as wrestlers are forced out due to injury.
Mick Foley is the best example of a wrestler forced to retire from
ring action before he should have, but there are literally
dozens of wrestlers today, at all levels, who are in constant
pain. It seems like every wrestler in WCW or WWF takes several
months off to recuperate from a serious ailment at least once a
injuries range from nagging to chronic and permanent.
Itíll take a special performer at the upper echelons of
the business to drive the style back to something where that
doesnít happen anymore. They
will drive how matches are performed, the way that Lou
Thesz did in the 40s, Dick
the Bruiser and the Sheik
in the 60s, Dory Funk Jr. and Jack Brisco
in the 70s, Ric Flair
and Ricky Steamboat
in the 80s. That
drive will bring us to a point where wrestlers donít need huge
knee braces simply to run to the ring, and prescription pain
killers to get through each day. When we look at the 00s and beyond, that wrestler is Kurt
Angle. Help us,
Obi-Wan, youíre the classic wrestling fanís only hope.