Way back when I was around ten years old my brother and I would spend Saturday afternoon watching wrestling on a black and white TV with rabbit ears. My favorite wrestler was “Leaping Larry Chene,” one of the good guys who always managed to persevere even when the referee was conveniently looking the other way while Larry’s opponents were performing scurrilous acts in between tags. I also loved “Haystack Calhoun,” a huge fellow built like, well, a haystack. He had a good heart. His moniker was basically a belly flop onto his opponents incapacitating all but the strongest. “Crybaby McCarthy” was never a favorite, always blubbering in the midst of battle when he suffered the dreaded rabbit punch.
It was a fun time, grown men jumping from the ropes surrounding the ring, pouncing on top of each other for the pin, one shoulder down, then the other, then both at once. Bam, bam, bam the referee’s hand to the mat…victory!
It was of course pure theater and eventually I came to realize that wrestling was fake.
The sport evolved into a more mean spirited form with stunts becoming more realistic and violent. I had long since quit watching.
It then morphed into something else, ultimate fighting championships, a pay per view enterprise, where two people climb into a steel cage and participate in what can only be described as a low rent street fight. Very ugly and very bad theater.
Yesterday I revisited the old days in a sense. Nilla and Kali decided it was time to wrestle. There were leaps from the furniture onto the area rug that serves as their ring. There were props, the great battle for possession of “cheetah” a furry squeaky toy. Neither of them want it unless the other one has it. There is shoulder pinning and rabbit punching, and even a little blubbering if someone’s teeth chomp down a little too hard. There’s fierce growling and barking and bouncing off the walls. All in marvelous fun, two good friends in contest.
I realize that wrestling is still fake, but I enjoy the home grown variety a whole lot more. Sometimes fake is good.
Copyright 2011 Patrick Granfors