The Wrioting on the Wall: Early Memories of Wrestling

The Wrioting on the Wall: Early Memories of Wrestling
By Jack

I think back to my first professional wrestling experience and I remember Saturday mornings with my two younger brothers.  My mom was usually in the kitchen cleaning up after a busy week and the special weekend spread that she usually put out for us.  It seems like dad was around, but I don’t recall where.  Maybe he was outside mowing the yard or maybe he was working.  As I said, I don’t remember.

If he did happen to pass through the room as our focus was stuck on the television, he would mention names of old like Gorgeous George.  Us boys would just shake our heads, not really knowing who or what he was talking about at the time.  It wasn’t until later in life that we actually found out who George was and what a long lasting affect he had on professional wrestling.

I had my favorite wrestlers that I couldn’t get enough of.  Superstar Billy Graham.  Andre the Giant, Big John Studd, King Kong Bundy, 'Superfly' Jimmy Snuka.  Magnum T.A.. The Road Warriors, Hawk and Animal.  The Rock ’n’ Roll Express, Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson.  ‘The American Dream’, Dusty Rhodes.  ‘The Russian Nightmare’, Nikita Koloff.  Ricky ‘The Dragon’ Steamboat.  'Rowdy' Roddy Piper.  Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts.  'The Nature Boy', Ric Flair and so many many more.  The descriptive names they came up with were just as unbelievable. The Hands of Stone.  The Four Horsemen. The Hart Foundation.  Ravishing.  Mr. Wonderful.  The Animal.  Adorable.  Ace Cowboy.  The Barber.  Macho Man.  Hacksaw.

I’m not even touching base on those characters that were announcers as well.  Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura, Gorilla Monsoon, ‘Mean’ Gene Okerlund, Tony Shiavone.   And you can’t forget the managers, ‘Classy’ Freddy Blassy, Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan, Jim Cornette (and his tennis racket), ‘Mouth of the South’ Jimmy Hart.  I was so thoroughly entranced with the way these full grown men put this dance to screen, week in and week out.

I had no allegiance towards which wrestling promoters I watched.  Whether it was WWF (now WWE) or NWA (which I believe evolved into the WCW).  I didn’t care.  I simply launched myself into the seemingly real actions of these over the top characters.

I remember one time when I must have been in the 6th grade, the NWA had booked a card at an arena near where I lived.  I begged my mom to drop the $20 and take me.  My idols, Tag team title holders, Rock ’n’ Roll Express, were set to wrestle that night.  The only drawback is that because it was a house show, the tag team titles weren’t up for grabs.

Mom eventually relented.  I talked my best friend, Jamie, into talking his mom into going, too.  Late afternoon we took off on the 35 minute drive to a night I knew was in my destiny.

The crowd was electric that night.  This was a special occasion as something of this magnitude didn’t usually come to little old Saginaw, Michigan.  Because we purchased our tickets at the venue, the seats weren’t particularly that good, but it didn’t matter, we were witnessing the real thing.

This happened 35 years ago and like all polaroids of that age, it has become grainy and faded.  Two things still stand out in my memory of that night.  The first being the way The Rock ’n’ Roll Express dispatched of their opponents, a weak and nameless team, that night.  Their moves in the squared circle resembled something you’d see choreographed in a Russian ballet.

The second thing that I remember clearly was the way I legitimately got scared when I saw Kerry Von Erich threaten The Claw in a menacing way towards the crowd.  I know I was about 16 rows back from the ring, but I still thought he was going to kill me with the use of his mighty hand.

I’ve grown past those wrestlers of lore.  But my love for wrestling hasn’t dropped off much.  I went through phases where I switched between watching RAW IS WAR and Monday NITRO.  I supported the hate the crowd felt towards the NWO.  I wanted to be Stone Cold and give everyone The Stunner.

But doesn’t every good American boy growing up?

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