As I was sitting inside The Arena Friday night watching TNA Championship Wrestling, I couldn’t escape this feeling of déjà vu and this sense that the more things change, the more they sometimes stay the same.
Let me preface this by saying that I’ve been a wrestling fan since early childhood. I had one grandmother, who much like my wife today absolutely hated wrestling. However, the other grandmother was another story.
Granny loved it, and you didn’t dare try to tell her that it wasn’t real either. She would watch wrestling anytime that it came on television, and loved to go see it when it came to town, which was fairly frequently in those days.
As a first grader or younger, I remember watching Bob Armstrong, before he was The Bullet, battling the Mongolian Stomper on more than one occasion at the old Gilliam Gym or the Corbin Speedway or at the Corbin football field. It was the early days of Ronnie Garvin and Chief Wahoo McDaniel.
As I got older, I’d catch Jerry the King Lawler battling it out with Jimmy Hart and his cronies on a wrestling promotion out of Memphis that was televised on WLEX at noon on Saturday. I remember watching the first match ever wrestled by the Rock and Roll Express, and what may have been Jeff Jarrett’s first televised match.
Jeff "King of the Ring" Jarrett is now one of the bigwigs on TNA Championship Wrestling. He was in the main event Friday night teamed with 3-D against Beer Money Inc. and Booker T.
Granted back in the old days, you didn’t typically have people flying through tables in the middle of the ring. This is a relatively new phenomenon in wrestling culture. In the old days, you were more likely to see flour being thrown in someone’s face or a fireball being tossed, which is really cool looking if you’re a kid.
Of course, steel chairs have forever been and always will be a staple of wrestling, or rasslin’ as it was in the old days.
As I watched Friday, I couldn’t help but escape the feeling that I’d seen this all before. I had more than once. Some of the wrestlers were different, but many of the routines were the same as they were in my youth, and probably before I was even born.
Friday night, the American hating Sheik Abdul Bashir of Tehran, Iran, battled Consequences Creed out of Marietta, Ga., who was decked out in his red, white and blue ring attire.
Back in my youth, it was the Iron Sheik versus Sgt. Slaughter.
Of course the bad guys, or heels to use more technical jargon, in each case grabbed the microphone and played up to the crowd having them booing loudly long before they were done.
Then the good guys or faces, which is short for baby faces, enter the ring to the applause and cheers of the crowd.
Friday night as Sheik Abdul placed Consequences Creed in a sleeper hold, I was sitting there waiting for it to happen.
As any wrestling fan knows, when a sleeper hold is placed on someone and they appear unconscious, the referee lifts their arm three times. If it drops back down three times, he rings the bell and the guy, who is awake, is declared the winner.
The it, is the age old wrestling gimmick where the ref lifts the good guy’s arm the first time then it falls. He lifts it a second time and it falls again lifeless to his side. The referee lifts it a third time, and it falls about two thirds of the way before it stops.
The crowd starts cheering. The hero’s arm goes up higher. Then he regains his strength and powers out of the move. Hulk Hogan may have been the best ever at it.
It’s classic wrestling.
Is it real? Sorry Granny, but of course not.
Much like a Shakespearean play, it’s a production played out on a stage, or in this case ring, for all to see. While the actors change, the stories and props stay largely the same.
It’s escapism. It’s getting away from the problems and stresses of every day life for a couple of hours and enjoying the good guys battling the bad guys with the good guys usually coming out on top.
It’s fun, and like a Shakespearean play, it’s a brand of entertainment that not everyone fully appreciates or enjoys. Some of us are fortunate enough to be able to enjoy both.
Now for some other random thoughts floating around in my head:
• I got the chance to meet some of Jellico Community Hospital’s newest doctors Thursday evening during a program at the Cumberland Inn. The hospital has recruited seven new physicians to the area over the last 18 months, and I have to say that their credentials are pretty impressive.
Given how underserved the Appalachian region is as a whole in the healthcare field, it’s nice to see an influx of new doctors.
• If you’re not doing anything Thursday morning, then you might want to come out to the Cumberland Inn for the 2009 Kiwanis National Day of Prayer. The event will be held at 7:30 a.m. and feature teacher, coach and motivational speaker Ron J. Treadway.
The cost is $8 and proceeds will go to support area children through Kiwanis projects and scholarships. Past president Dave Bergman assures me that Treadway is a very interesting speaker.