IT IS WHAT IT IS…

Had a good time seeing some old friends at Chilhowee Park on Fathers Day.  The circumstances weren’t ideal but wrestling in a historic, yet somewhat primitive amphitheater was kind of cool. Many years ago John Cazana promoted wrestling in Chilhowee Park at the Homer Hamilton Amphitheater during the summer and in the Jacobs building during winter or rainy nights.

It seems like everyone has ideas about how wrestling is and should be ran today.

My thoughts are the business will evolve and move forward.  Does that mean we might come full circle and go back to the ‘good old days’?  You mean traveling 4-5 in a car, baloney blow outs and living week to week?

Nope.  Don’t see that happening on the scale it did before 1985…

I am excited to see how the business will evolve and transform over the next ten years.  Hell, the next five years will be full of new, ambitious Superstars looking to make their mark in history.  I’ve said this a million times; I hope the new stars learn about who came before them.  There are elements they can use and make their own.  There’s also some habits and mistakes they can learn from…

Everybody has their favorite era or time period for the business.  I can’t fault or blame anyone for being born into an era of cable TV wrestling.  WrestleMania 30 is happening next year and to the majority of fans or members of the WWE “Universe” that’s the only wrestling they’ve ever known.

I loved the 1960-70s era of professional wrestling.  I started wrestling in October 1979 and caught the last wave of the territories.  I was able to meet and wrestle against and alongside the same guys I admired and respected growing up.  I was now sitting in a dressing room listening to Terry Funk, Harley Race, Dusty Rhodes and so many of my heroes laugh and tell stories like I imagined they could.

Texas Death matches were a way of settling a score or ending a feud back then.  The idea was falls didn’t count, there were no disqualifications and the only way you could win was be the last man standing.  Today the match is simply described as a “Last Man Standing Match.”

I don’t know…”Texas Death” sounds a LOT better…

Dory Funk Sr. was known as “The King of Texas Death matches” and I remember he was advertised as undefeated in such bouts when he came to Houston to turn away Jose Lothario’s challenge.  I was born in El Paso and the Funk family were Gods in west Texas and I just knew that there was NO WAY Jose Lothario could beat a man as tough as Dory Funk Sr!

Dory Funk Jr. was the NWA World Heavyweight Champion at the time and with Dory Sr. and brother Terry, the entire family was on a mission to keep the title in the family.  While the Funk family was revered and respected in west Texas, east Texas fans despised them! Lothario beat Dory Funk Sr. in what I believed to be (at the time) his first EVER loss in a Texas Death match!  Jose was now in line for a shot for the world title.  And it looked like he had a pretty damn good chance of walking out the champion!

But it was not to be.  Dory brought Terry with him and the match ended in disqualification.  There were some rematches that went to 60, then 90 minute draws… Back then the wrestlers of that era told a compelling story that was laid out, not rushed and it was the greatest live performance by outstanding athletes and showmen dedicated to their craft.

Watching people like Wahoo McDaniel, Johnny Valentine, Boris Malenko, The Funks, The Infernos, The Von Braunners, Jack Brisco and so many others from that period made me a believer.  I think it’s because they walked in the arena believing in what they did.  There were no guaranteed contracts.  They got paid by what the house drew.  There were some tough guys who loved the business and would do anything to protect it.  In the process, fans witnessed some of the greatest exhibitions of professional wrestling and had an outlet where they could cheer, boo and blow off steam.  And while not every match may have been a classic, there was enough on the card that would usually have fans walking out buzzing about what happened during the course of the night.

They could do an angle in Tampa and if it got over and drew money, they might try it in Houston.  I’ll never forget watching Wahoo chop Boris Malenko and his bridge flew out of his mouth!  Wahoo looked stunned, took the dentures and put them on the mat. Then he stomped them!

That wasn’t supposed to happen!

Later I learned Eddie Graham and Malenko did the same thing in Florida and did huge business.  Wahoo and Malenko did huge business in Texas and were convincing every time they stepped in the ring.  It was a different atmosphere and attitude, no doubt.  The house lights went down and the ring lights would focus all attention on the wrestlers in the ring.

A vast majority of the classic buildings wrestling was held in on a regular basis are now gone.  WWE made it possible for more people to make a good to great living.  It’s a blessing and a curse.

We can’t go all the way back but it would be nice to see more impromptu and ad-lib.  I don’t think a real talent needs a soap opera writer to tell him what to say.

If it looks good, you’ll see it

If it sounds good, you’ll hear it

If it’s marketed right, you’ll buy it

If it’s real, you’ll feel it

Thanks for reading.

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