Volume 92, Issue 39

Thursday, November 12, 1998

not too late to reconsider football too


Back in the day

When it was announced wrestling was coming to the Wave, images of body slams and piledrivers circled in my head, but it had nothing to do with the present entertainment-oriented money machine promoters claim is wrestling.

Instead, my thoughts reverted back to the glory days of the sport about 10 years ago, when it was fair to call the sport real. Well, at least it appeared that way to an 11-year-old.

I have to first admit that I know very little of the modern business and never watch this sad excuse for a sport. However, I was caught watching an episode of the Monday night show called Raw, a little while ago and I can say I have seen enough.

Do these guys even fight anymore? It seems the entire sport has been turned into one big interview, which begs the obvious question. Where is Mean Gene Okerlund?

And the average age of the viewer seems to be 30 years old. Put that Austin 3:16 sign away grandpa and grow up!

Are fans not sick of the Steve Austin and Vince McMahon show? In the good old days, wrestling interviews would occur prior to a match, not be held in the place of one.

And back in the day, interviews were cool. Brutus Beefcake had his barbershop, Jake Roberts had the snake-pit and kilt-wearing Rowdy Roddy Piper held court in the Piper's Pit, bagpipes wailing.

Wrestling also used to have a clear division between good and evil. It picked up nicely on the cold war era, pitting all-American Hulk Hogan, who was the epitome of the good guy, against the Iron Sheik and his national anthem-toting Russian comrade Nikoli Volkoff. Nowadays there is no indicator which distinguishes the good guys from the menacing forces of evil.

Characters were a huge part of the old "real game." We'll never again see the likes of George "The Animal" Steele rip turnbuckles apart with his teeth or the green-faced Missing Link. Gone too are greats like Rick Martel, Tito Santana or Paul "Mr. Wonderful" Orandorf.

A decade ago there were some of the greatest tag teams in the world, with the British Bulldogs, the Killer Bees and Demolition leading the charge.

In the 1980s, Wrestlemania used to mean something, at least during the single digits of the annual turnbuckle tussles. Saturday Night's main event was just that, a main event. I think it had a lot to do with the fact that my parents would let me stay up until 11:30 p.m. to watch it, but there were always a couple of big name tussles scheduled for the squared circle.

Whether it was 400 pounds of King Kong Bundy breaking Hulk Hogan's ribs in a steel cage match or an incredible battle royal, the main event delivered.

Wrestling in the 1980s lacked the Hollywood glitz and glamour. Wrestlers like Iron Mike Sharpe were proud to say they were from Hamilton, Ontario and every week, faithful viewers would seriously wonder whether he had a foreign object underneath that arm band.

There was also no need for cheerleaders or dancers, as long as Ms. Elizabeth stood by the Macho Man.

Violence has always been the main instrument of entertainment but what is it with all the swearing in the new world of wrestling? Would the Junkyard Dog have brought all the kids in the ring before and after his match to do the "Junkyard" dance, while spewing profanity?

Simply stated, things have changed.

This will probably be the last time wrestling finds its way to the pages of this section – I hope. I just thought fans of the real sport would enjoy remembering some of the golden years. When we were kids.

To Contact The Sports Department: gazette.sports@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998