The Evolution Of Wrestling
August 17, 2004 by Justin Dean

For my very first OWW column, i would like to chat about my experiences of growing up with wrestling, and encourage others to talk "real old school".

If you're like me, approaching your mid-thirties, or older, then you probably have loads of memories of the changing face of wrestling. For me, it was the late 70s, saturday afternoons, World Of Sport with Dickie Davies, for an hour of entertainment from the biggest, sweatiest, hairiest, ugliest entertainers you could find anywhere. The crowd favourite was always Big Daddy, and then there was the universally hated Giant Haystacks, and the legendary Jackie Pallo jnr to name just a few. When we got Sky in 1987, and i first saw the likes of Hulk Hogan, Sergeant Slaughter, Ultimate Warrior, Macho Man and Andre the Giant, it was a world i'd never before imagined!

It wasnt big business then, like the WWE is massive now, but it was good family entertainment, just seeing two titans charging at each other for twenty minutes! The arenas were small, old, sweaty halls. Crowds were only a couple of hundred strong, and the commentators were not exactly Tazz or J.R. What you used to get from them were the basics...."Oh, Haystacks has sat on him - my goodness!", or something like "Now they're getting ready to charge at each other."

My Grandfather used to take me to our local amusement park, where every other saturday during the summer season, the hall there was hired out for these wrestling shows. The wrestlers entrance music was always something operatic and dramatic, a few disco lights would flash on their entrance, they would be wearing either silly oversized hats, glittery jackets or Superman type capes, and introduced once in the ring, then they would get it on. And you would sit and wait for it........the little old lady coming to ringside to smack the bad guy over the head with either a handbag, umbrella or even their shoes! Ok, its not exactly Batista interrupting a match with a sly power bomb while the referee is distracted, but it was funny, real old fashioned entertainment, and something you always looked out for. (And where did they first get the idea for hardcore matches from i wonder!")

Now we have the whole caboodle with WWE especially. The massive, sold out arenas, hi-tec lasers, explosions, unique entrance music, crazy story lines and stunning Divas (back in England in the 70s, think Moolah-type women, then that was the extent of wrestling crumpet then!). We here in England do still have regular wrestling shows, but they are in bigger concert venues, with wider ranging cards, rumbles, hardcore matches, ladder matches etc, with the occasional star appearance ie Jake the Snake Roberts. They are like mini WWE events.

However, im not going to start saying "its not like it used to be", because that is the nature of change and modernisation. The wrestling world today is what it is, and i thoroughly enjoy it...............but a part of me still yearns for those small, smelly halls, limited matches, and with nothing but the audience, especially the little old lady, to create the atmosphere. Be good y'all.

by Justin Dean..

Lil' Theater wrote:
Well, I'm only 14 years old, so I'm what you might say a little too young to remember those days. However, my Mum tells me a lot about how her Aunty Ivy used to love watching the Wrestling and how she would watch with her occasionally. This was in the time of the Big Daddy Giant Haystacks feud. It sounded really exciting. Two Titans charging at each other, as you said, is now not very common, and even when it is pulled off, such as the Undertaker Kane match at Wrestlemania XX, they mess it up which a load of 'Drama'. I'd absolubtely love to see matches from the days you described. From the sounds of things, WWE doesn't seem to have that same magic.



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