Not the overblown crap Vince McMahon has been putting out for the past 30 years, I mean the old days, when they pretended it was real. I remember going to the matches on Monday nights at the Mid-South Coliseum with my dad in the mid-70s, watching classic feuds like Jerry Lawler versus Jackie Fargo for the AWA Southern Heavyweight Title.
One of the earliest "high-flyers," Bill Dundee teams with Tojo Yamamoto to beat the hated team of Dennis Condrey and Phil Hickerson with the help of a classic "knocked out ref revives just in time" stunt.
Recognize "Terry Boulder" cutting a lousy promo here?
Memphis wrestling in the 1960s and early 70s was promoted by Nick Goulas. Goulas was a notorious cheapskate at a time when wrestlers might be very local celebrities, but had no power over their own careers. They drove themselves, often long hours and hundreds of miles, to widely scatterred shows and carpooled to save money. The promotion was taken over in the mid-70s by Jerry Jarrett, who formed the Continental Wrestling Associationn in 1977. By the early 1980s, Vince McMahon was leveraging the emerging cable TV market via to promote his budding World Wrestling Federation. McMahon was the first promoter to lose any pretense of wrestling being "real." I remember watching Saturday Night's Main Event, a primitive, scripted broadcast of one of WWF's live shows in the early 80s. It was (and mostly still is) a caricature of old school wrestling. You could always tell when it was time for a commercial because something would happen to stop the action. "While they sort this out, we'll take time out for a few words from our sponsors..."
Jerry Lawler and Bill Dundee had some of the greatest matches in pw history:
And made an even better tag team, who could forget the original (of many) Tupelo concession stand brawl?
And the famous Lawler/Terry Funk "Empty Arena" match?
For a while in the late 1990s, WCW gave Vince's WWF a run with the NWO/Mute-Sting" gimmick.
Vince claims to have had a telephone conversation with Ted Turner when Turner bought the Georgia territory:
Ted - "Guess what, Vince? I'm in the rasslin' business>"
Vince - "That's nice, Ted. I'm in the entertainment business."
Unfortunately in the eyes of old school fans, Vince's watered down, mass marketed pablum played. Not that it didn't have it's moments.
One of the better retirement speeches.
The farewell (sort of) of one of the greatest.
Man, that dude could cut a promo.
Who they got now? Daniel Bryan? Sheamus? Wade Barrett? They couldn't lace these guys' boots.
Or cut a promo like The American Dream.
AH, the good ole days... gone.