"I am the man that walked a barbed wire fence thirty-two thousand miles barefooted, ate steel wool like cake, sopped up lightnin' with bread, picked up Plymouth rock and caught nine pounds of buckshot!"
It was the furthest thing from the greatest wrestling match ever held. It lasted only a few minutes, and most of that was stalling. There were a total of three bumps taken, and it ended in a disqualification. For one of the participants, it was the first pro wrestling match he had ever had. It drew a decent live crowd, but not really anything extraordinary for the venue or the time period. If it was evaluated by the "star raters" of today it would receive a dud, but in terms of being executed flawlessly exactly the way it was intended to be, it deserved 5 stars. It wasn't seen on pay-per-view, and indeed was first broadcast on a tape delay of a week on a regional wrestling show airing on ten local stations. It was a complete mismatch, yet did more to convince fans and non-fans that at least something about pro wrestling was real than anything else that's been done in the sport in the last 75 years.
This month's column is the result of yet another offhand remark by the erstwhile editor of this fine publication, when referencing the fact that the internet recently flipped it's collective wig over the first-ever "6 star match" as rated by Dave Meltzer, noted wrestling observer. Our fearless leader remarked that I might have something to say about that, noting that I at least ought to have some input since--for better or worse--I invented the cockamamie scale to begin with.
I get literally hundreds and hundreds of questions from fans via email, twitter or in person at appearances, generally asking about wrestling in the "old days". In actual fact, most of them begin with "Back in YOUR day", as if I was one of the scouts in the westward expansion of wagon trains back in the 1800's. Of course, when the question is then asked, it makes me feel like I WAS, because the sport has changed so much in the last 20 or 30 years. One of the questions that's been popping up lately is some variation of, "Back in your day, how did you rehearse/practice/go over the moves of the match and the finish, and who was it that instructed you who was to win and who was to lose and how?"
The holiday season brings joy and happiness around the world, but for us old-school, American pro rasslin' veterans, it also brings a twinge of wistfulness, nostalgia for the "old days" when the holiday season meant big cards, big matches, and big money. Thanksgiving gets the lion's share of the attention these days, mostly due to the three-decade-long Thanksgiving night tradition of sellouts at the Greensboro Coliseum that evolved into Starrcade, and the Supercards of the 70's and 80's in cities like New Orleans, Dallas, Atlanta and more. I've even written about Thanksgiving night tradition here in the past. But some have now forgotten that Christmas night was huge for wrestling in many places, and indeed all of Christmas week was usually strong for gates around the country.
In the late 1950's United States, blues music, a uniquely American art form, was at death's door as an industry. It's pioneers and icons, men like Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf, were performing in relative obscurity, and the fate of many a bluesman was to die broken financially, with substance abuse often a contributor.
Normally, when I write my column for Fighting Spirit, I like for the finished product to be both entertaining and informative--something you enjoyed reading for a few minutes, but also came away from having learned something about wrestling in the process. Usually, I like to impart to the reader a linear train of thought, or a chronological story, something that makes sense out of my subject even if the reader is not well-versed in the history or customs of pro wrestling. This column is different--for this one, ehh, I got nothin'.