30 Mar

This weekend the WWE is bringing WrestleMania to Atlanta.  It’s been a while since we’ve bounced against the ropes in this town.  In fact, it was Black Saturday in 1984 when we saw our last good elbow drop.  There are all sorts of events tied together in this spectacular…there’s a charity golf tournament, a fan “experience” and even an auction of wrestler art at our Fabulous Fox. That last one kinda threw me, too.  There is going to be a new round of wrestlers inducted into the Hall of Fame with Abdullah the Butcher making the cut. 

Hall of Famer Abdullah the Butcher

Abdullah “The Madman from Sudan” the Butcher, who was really from Canada, was a regular with the GCW here back in the day. Grandma Hot Damn can get a little wistful thinking back on the glory days of Georgia Championship Wrestling.  That was before the state of Ohio conspired to take over our city and when wrestling was pronounced “wrastlin’”.  If you have a spare couple of hours to listen to someone giddily detail an era, ask any Southern man of a certain age about Mr. Wrestler II, Midnight Express, Tony Atlas,  or Ole Anderson.

My brothers loved to watch GCW on Ted Turner’s WTBS Superstation when we were kids.  Because it was the 1970s and we had one tv for kids, I also watched a lot of wrestling.  I got just as excited as my brothers did when we saw and met “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes, who kindly autographed every piece of paper we could dig out of my mother’s purse, while we were at a gate at the old Atlanta airport.  He had on light blue boot cut jeans, a tan leather jacket and stacked boots.  And of course, his hair was the color of maize.  He was larger than life, but not as large as he is now.

Champion Dusty Rhodes

You can’t talk about Dusty without having a conversation about “Nature Boy” Ric Flair.  Flair, later part of the evil Four Horsemen, dressed like a pimp from south Florida.  His bottle blonde locks were perfectly zipped and feathered, he always had on Foster Grants tuned to “sun”, some sort of suit and big gold jewelry, when he wasn’t in one of his fancy, custom robes.  For the Nature Boy though, it wasn’t just about looks, because “Whooooo!!!  To be The Man, you gotta beat The Man!!!”  Nature Boy was not modest.

Limousine ridin', jet flyin', kiss stealin', wheelin' dealin' son of a gun Ric Flair

I don’t know what the deal was with wrestlers and the peroxide, but “Wildfire” Tommy Rich must have gone to the same hair stylist as Ric and Dusty.  I like to think of them on an off day meeting up at the salon for a little process and trim then going out for a light lunch together afterward.

Breck model Tommy Rich

As a special treat, a love gift really, my mom took us to the GCW live taping a time or two.  Okay, I had to go because I wasn’t old enough to stay at home alone.  I don’t really know that this was the best place to take a child.  Forget what was going on in the ring with figure four leg locks, sleeper holds, bleeding, superplexes, and atomic drops.  The real action was the sideshow outside of the ring.  To this day, I am unsure whether the audience really thought the wrestling was real, but they sure were enthusiastic.  Fights regularly broke out ringside, with people attacking one another with metal folding chairs, shoes and belt buckles.  One time a guy next to us bawled my mom out for chuckling at the on stage antics.  Then there were certain wrestlers who were allegedly so hated that they needed police escort through the room to protect them from being pelted with cans of Billy Beer.  And an unforgettable sight was manager Jimmy Cornette, with his ever-present tennis racquet, getting into vein-popping shouting confrontations with the wrestlers, the refs, crowd members, girlfriends…whoever was within earshot.  And yet, Jimmy’s character was so upper-crust that we were supposed to believe that he only abandoned the clay courts at PDC for these matches.

This weekend’s WrestleMania is sparing no expense in making an impact in the town from which it sprouted.  It’s going to be hosted by The Rock, and Snooki is going to be here doing something for it, too.  What in the hell has happened to professional wrestling?  It’s not classy like it was in 1981, as seen here.


One Response to “Wrastlin’”

  1. Emily Followill March 30, 2011 at 7:51 am #

    Oh, I was right there with ya! When I think Saturday night and 1970 in the same sentence, I think SuperStation Wrestling, baby sitter, fish sticks or chicken pot pie, and Hee Haw! Nothing like growing up with brothers to get us educated on the finer side of life!

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