Tuesday, July 25, 2006

"Let's get ready to rumble!"

Last week I was flipping through the channels when I came across “professional wrestling,” which is really a mixture of bad theater and gymnastics. It was amusing... for about three minutes.

It reminded me of the one and only time I went to a professional wrestling match. It was in the early 1970s at the Cow Palace.

It was my older brother’s birthday and he wanted to see some wrestling. Amazingly, my parents’ bought the tickets, loaded up the VW Bus with about a half dozen kids and drove to the Cow Palace.

I must have been six or seven years old at the time. That was the perfect age because I believed everything I saw – the savage beatings, the fake blood and the supposedly unconscious wrestlers being carried out on stretchers.

It was awesome.

Seated behind us was a group of drunk white guys and several rows below us was a group of drunk black guys. All night they yelled racial slurs at each other and used some of the most wonderful profanity my virgin ears had ever heard. The put-downs were magnificent and beyond what I had ever heard on the playground.

The star of the night was Pat Patterson – a legend in the world of fake wrestling. The crowd roared when Patterson entered the ring, but my favorite was Haystacks Calhoun. He was huge – maybe 600 pounds – and looked like he could crush everyone in the ring. Andre the Giant was also there that night, and even though my memory has faded, I vaguely recall his towering presence in the ring as he waved to the crowd.

When ate popcorn, drank sodas, stood on our chairs and screamed and yelled all night long.

At one point, we all went to use the bathroom. We were led down a corridor and then another and at some point a security guard pointed at a wall. Something must have been wrong with the bathrooms because everyone was pissing on a wall in a hallway. At the time I thought that was pretty neat.

The finale was the Battle Royal, in which all the wrestlers climbed in the ring and duked it out. I don’t remember who won, but it was great. At one point a wrestler was knocked out in the ring and his opponent was prancing around savoring his victory. There were cheers and boos and then the most unexpected thing happened – the unconscious wrestler suddenly came to, grabbed his opponent’s leg, knock him down andpummeled him nearly to death.

And so ended a great night of quality family entertainment.


Blogger Fred said...

Are you telling me that professional wrestling is fake??? NO WAY!

6:42 AM  
Blogger Eric V. Kirk said...

I remember Pat Patterson! His partner was Rocky Johnson, a black "drop kick specialist." I remember Patterson was getting grief from a big bearded wrestler named "Moon Dog Mane," who ate a goldfish to show us what was going to happen to Patterson.

I've never been to a match, but I hear they can be pretty scary with people who take it seriously. Rowdy Rod Piper left the industry for awhile after some Hulk Hogan fan followed him to his apartment and stabbed him.

For awhile wrestling seemed to degenerate (if that's possible) into an outlet for raw nationalism, with villains being everything from evil homosexuals to Japanese businessmen. And they couldn't make up their minds whether the Iron Sheik was Iranian or Iraqi. However, in recent years wrestling seems to have returned to its roots of pure mindlessness. I stopped watching because I could never keep track of who was a good guy and when.

12:06 PM  

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