Pro wrestling crawled out of smoke-filled arenas, grew wings and adapted before becoming the athletic, high-flying display it is today.
Many of the moves we see in wrestling rings, in WWE or otherwise, look nothing like what George Hackenschmidt was doing to his foes in the early 1900s. Luchalibre, inventive trailblazers and the fearless all molded the art form of wrestling into something far different.
There was no flight in early wrestling. Men ground each other into the mat in the industry’s formative years. A wrestler might leave his feet just once during a match, but not voluntarily.
Unless an opponent was flinging you to the canvas, you dug yourself into the ground and grappled.
Then came a man who claims he stole his high-flying signature move from kangaroos. Then came Mexico’s acrobats, Extreme Championship Wrestling and the Japanese cruiserweights. Over the years, the shift toward breathtaking flying moves has been a game of one-upmanship over the course of several generations.