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WRESTLING COLUMNS

I Yearn for Yesteryear
July 11, 2004 by Matt Mackinder


It used to be that Saturday mornings a decade ago were times spent watching WWF Superstars of Wrestling. There would always be some jobber matched up against a top-flight stud with no hope for the challenger. Names like Reno Riggins, Tommy Landell, George South, Steve Lombardi, Barry Horowitz and Iron Mike Sharpe, while somewhat bigger in other circuits, were normally designated losers up against Tito Santana, The Rockers, Hercules, Big Boss Man and Tatanka.

Nowadays, we've got two-hour shows on cable with maybe 30 minutes devoted to actual wrestling. If you ask me, all pro wrestling is any more is one big soap opera. If I want that, I'll watch "All My Children."

What I miss most about the old wrestling genre is that we all knew wrestling was choreographed, but we believed what each character stood for. The Honky Tonk Man, Ultimate Warrior, Bad News Brown, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Randy "Macho Man' Savage, Hulk Hogan, "Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase, Ricky "the Dragon" Steamboat, Greg "the Hammer" Valentine, The Red Rooster, Irwin R. Schyster, Big John Studd, Paul "Mr. Wonderful" Orndorff, Andre the Giant, Brutus "the Barber" Beefcake, The Hart Foundation, Rowdy Roddy Piper, George "the Animal" Steele and Jake "the Snake" Roberts were household names. Managers like Mr. Fuji, Bobby "the Brain" Heenan and Slick were despised. Now, we've got Tazz, Spike Dudley, Triple H, old man Shawn Michaels and broadcasters turning into wrestlers and vice versa.

I guarantee that you ask any person who was around during the late 1980's/early 1990's and they'll know who each of the aforementioned wrestlers are. Try asking them who Tazz is and I bet my bottom dollar they say something about Looney Tunes.

Saturday mornings were what kids lived for. If we were lucky, maybe Demolition wrestled or cut a promo. Maybe Bret Hart got to wrestle Mr. Perfect to a double-countout. If we were really lucky, Rick Martel would squirt his "Arrogance" cologne into an opponents' eyes and have Vince McMahon, then a broadcaster, scream for help until jobbers ran out for the save. If a heel hurt a fan favorite severely enough to require crowd shots with mouths hanging open, I probably looked the same way.

Wrestling used to be fun. Maybe it was all a part of my youth and I'm not ready to let go of that yet. If you ask my fiancÚ, she'll tell you I'm still a kid at heart, a "momma's boy" if you will. I agree wholeheartedly. But any day of the week, I'd gladly watch old film of "Wrestling Challenge" than watch some musclehead chirp for 10 minutes in a ring while fans chant "Asshole! Asshole!"

Perhaps it's all a sign of the times. Perhaps the hundreds of signs held up at live events tell a story of their own. Watch old pay-per-views. Watch old WrestleManias. Very few signs. The fans came to see wrestling. They cheered when Hillbilly Jim, Junkyard Dog and the Young Stallions made an appearance. And they booed when Dino Bravo and Jimmy Hart came to the ring.

If I could turn back the clock, I'd be forever 12 years old stationed in front of my parents' eight-inch black and white TV in the kitchen on a Saturday morning. Monday and Thursday nights 14 years later" I've got better things to do.

by Matt Mackinder..


Kenny Warren wrote:
I totally agree. When I was young I couldn't wait for the Saturday Night main event. I didn't care if it was once a year. Then there was the WWF superstars on Sunday. Those were classics. Even though we knew it was staged, it was so good we almost felt it was not. The Hulkster, The Warrior, The Snake, Dibiase, The Macho King(I bet only few know him as that)..........need I go on. Now it is as if I can't wait for this to go off so Joe Schmo can come on. Where is the stuff we could all watch as a family.
Steve Kapp wrote:
I almost agree with you 100% Matt. I long for the wrestling from the late 70's to the mid 80's. I miss having about 8-10 different wrestling organizations. I grew up on Houston/Mid-South wrestling. You also had Georgia, Florida, Memphis, Central States, Mid Atlantic, World Class with the Von Erichs, Pacific Northwest, Continental, Southwest from San Antonio, AWA, NWA & WWF when it was at least somewhat entertaining. You had most wrestlers travel from territory to territory so they would not become stale. How long has Undertaker been with the WWF/WWE" 15 years I believe. There is so many ways you can re-package a guy until fans start to lose interest. I miss the way the promoters actually built up a fued & it would last a couple of months or even a couple of years. Now they just build fueds from week to week. Ted Dibiase & Hacksaw Duggan had a major fued in the Mid-South that lasted almost 2 years & it never got boring. Also, when a wrestler made a change from face to heel or vise versa, it was a major deal & a shock. Nowadays, a wrestler has more turns than a turnstile at Yankee stadium. Again, Dibiase was a face for about 8 years until that day he turned on Junkyard Dog in June 1982 to win the North American title. Now that was a shock & Mid-South made Ted a major heel until his face turn in late 1985 after Dick Murdoch attacked him before a match against Flair for the NWA title. That again was a major shock. Today a wrestler is a face 1 week & a heel the next week & 2 months down the road he is a face again. I haven't watched Vince's garbage in 3 years now & to be honest, I am not missing anything. Bring back more Bullrope, Chain, Coal Miner's Glove, Texas Death Matches & get rid of this ridiculous Ladders, tables & chairs crap. To me, wrestling died in mid 1987 when Vince started raiding territories & getting their major stars, & now wrestling has been buried never to return to its glory days when Vince bought out WCW 3 years ago. RIP Professional wrestling. We miss you.
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