To BE the man you gotta BEAT the man. WOOOOOO!Ric Flair
The prompt for today’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday took a sideways path via samurai and bujitsu to be focused on, of all things, rasslin’ (or “wrestling” for you non-southerners out there).
Today’s prompt, via the lovely and talented Linda G. Hill (with Just Jot in January crossover for today):
Your prompt for #JusJoJan and Stream of Consciousness Saturday is: “the first 3 words of the first full sentence.” Okay, follow me here. This is what I want you to do: 1. Grab the closest book to you when you sit down to write your post. 2. Open it to a random page. 3. Locate the first complete sentence on that page. 4. Use the first three words of that sentence to start your post, then take it from there–write whatever comes to mind. That’s it! Have fun!
Turning to the closest book I could reach:
Professional wrestlers seem to be insane, adrenaline junkies, or both.
OK, I’m not reading about the evolution of Mid-South Wrestling — Junkyard Dog and Jake the Snake! Hacksaw Jim Dugan. The Iron Sheik. The Russian guy. The Outlaw Dusty Rodes. And tons of others.
Or the autobiography written by the Animal guy [correction: Mick Foley who wrestled as Mankind and wrote one of the best books about wrestling out there — haven’t read it, but saw an interview with him years ago. For a dude that made a living biting the turnbuckle and acting the lunatic, a remarkably sane, rational, sharp dude. Note to this note: It was George “the Animal” Steele who tore open turnbuckles] or by Bret “The Hitman” Hart. (Amazing that I haven’t watched wrestling since early college days almost 30 years ago and those names have just stuck.
Yet yesterday I put a plate in the fridge and was about to put a packet of ham in the dishwasher. Go figure.
Bobby “The Brain” Heenan. “Mean” Gene Okerman. Ted “The Million Dollar Man” Debiase. Heels and faces, ah, I used to enjoy watching them all with the ‘rasslin.
Anyway, that “professional wrestlers seem” is from Secrets of the Samurai: A survey of the martial arts of feudal Japan. There were professional wrestlers in Japan as early as 1623!
Now, my brain knows that this is Sumo wrestling (mostly because of the drawings in the book), and actual, legitimate sporting engagements (though, given human nature, I’m going to assume that, like boxing, there were dives taken and matches fixed).
However, my brain also wants to go into overdrive with names: Taki “GODZILLA” Yashimoto; Mufi “THE JADE SAMURAI’ Akibono; Miyamoto “THE ULTIMATE SWORDSMAN” Mushashi.
For the record, Yashimoto was the Japanese admiral who planned the Pearl Harbor attack (coincidentally also the last official of a country assassinated by the US military — intelligence deciphered his airplane transport and US fighters shot down the plane). Akibono was a Haiwaian-born sumo champion in the 80s/90sish. Miyamoto Mushashi wrote the Book of 5 Rings and was deadly with a sword. He was literally a real-life version of what we all imagine an Old West gunslinger to have been, only with swords and he actually did duel, sometimes to the death, dozens if not hundreds of times. OK, 61 recorded duels, not including battles, and he was undefeated.
Where’d that come from?
I used to spend every Saturday morning, after Bugs Bunny and the Loony Tunes gang, watching Mid-South Wrestling (back in the days when the US was divided into various territories and before Vince McMahon consolidated everything — one’s mileage may vary on which was better).
I’ve never read much about the history of wrestling (hmmmmm, what’s another book on top of the 1,000 or so kicking around I haven’t gotten to yet?), but I do know that back in it’s early days in the . . . 40s (maybe earlier), it was semi-legitimate. It was entertainment, but it was also mostly actual wrestling moves.
Over time, fights got worked, plotlines developed, personas were created, and it has evolved into soap opera for men — with sweat and muscles.
I slowly lost my taste for it when Mid-South Wrestlers were sucked into WCW or WWF or whatever it was and by the end of college I rarely watched.
Meme and Pawpan took me to a show at the Lake Charles Coliseum. I must’ve been 13ish. [checks websites for dates]. Huh, ok, dude didn’t wrestle as the Ultimate Warrior until 1987, so would’ve been in high school (January 14, 1989 — you can find anything on the Internet). Memory now makes more sense since Kirk and Jeremy (my bro and cousin, respectively) were also almost teenagers. Huzza mental timeline correction.
Love it. Hate it. Think it’s stupid and fixed and planned (it is). You have to respect the sheer athleticsm and ability to tolerate pain these guys have. And gals, The Fabulous Moola would not be pleased to be excluded here.
The Ultimate Warrior’s schtick was to bound in, shake the ring ropes up and down, and act like a Road Warrior reject from a Mad Max movie to get the crowd fired up. Don’t remember anything else from the match, but I do remember him climbing to the top rope in the corner, doing a flip into the middle of the ring, and landing on the guy he was fighting.
That. Was. Fucking. Amazing.
Not just the physical ability to do it, but to also do it so that neither of them got hurt.
Even now, every now and again, I’ll pause on a match and marvel for a minute or five at the real feats of physical ability in the middle of the fake punches and slaps and “last second” escapes from being pinned.
Favorite wrestler? Gotta be Andre the Giant, both as himself and as the best fictional wrestler ever, Fezzik. Anybody want a peanut?
At the end of his career, passing over the torch to Hulk Holgan (what a douchebag he’s turned out to be, Thunderlips indeed), he was a shadow of his former self, in pain from gigantism that wouldn’t let him stop growing, but he turned in a solid performance.
Watched a documentary about him and the tales of his drinking — cases of, not beer, but wine AND beer — were incredible. While looking for this photo found a quote from Andre that it took him 2 liters of vodka before he’d feel warm. One wrestler counted about 160 16oz beers in a single night. Do not try this at home, you (hopefully) aren’t 7’4″ and 550 pounds.
It’s amazing the hold wrestling has on folks. Not sure if anyone seriously thinks these things aren’t fake and scripted any longer (which, again, doesn’t take away from the tremendous feats these guys and gals do).
Wrestling is huge in Mexico (the dudes in masks). Apparently people but on events in the their backyards. Buffalo Bills fans smash themselves through tables. And there’s always something from Japan on on a late Friday and Saturday night. Though not the death matches — where they do bleed because they’re fighting on glass or using barbed wire or some other crazy shit. Not my thing, those folks are nuts and the people that watch . . . not quite sure what goes on in your head to want to see that. OTH, I was football and there’s not many games go by were someone doesn’t get something twisted up; it’s just usually not as visible.
Anyway. That’s all I’ve got. Now to go down the Internet rabbit hole of looking for Fezzik images and of Andre the Giant holding a beer can.
Now, WOOOO, I’ll leave you with one of the best quotes to come out of the ‘rasslin world.
My grandfather use to watch wrasslin on Friday nights. My choice was to go grocery shopping with my mom and her mom, or stay home with my crazy*ss grandfather and watch the spectacle that he insisted was 100% real. The alcohol helped him believe that. This was a great post, Bryant!
Thanks, Dan. Oddly enough, I dont believe I have ever watched some wrestling with a beverage in hand, though there may have been some smoke involved in college a time of ten. Haven’t thought about rasslin in a while, was a fun stroll down some memories for me.
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I can’t watch it for more than a few minutes without thinking of my grandfather – good not to go there.
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Wish I were lucky enough not to have that same family member, envy those that don’t.
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Ha! They are more common than they should be.