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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi! I'm writing an essay on "Classic Wrestling," which I'm defining as late 60's to early 80's, and I want to get the input of the people who most share my appreciation for this incomparable time in wrestling history!

The question is:

What are the themes that define Classic Wrestling? What is it about this era that makes us love it so much, both inside and outside the ring?

If this subject interests you, I would be deeply interested in all you have to say about the matches, the personalities, the life on the road -- anything and everything you have to say about Classic Wrestling, whether it's just a short list or a ten page lecture!

I want to give a voice to those of us who treasure this era by painting a vivid picture of what makes it so great; from the broadest themes down to the smallest details.

Thank you for taking the time to check in on this topic, it is much appreciated!
-Blackwell
 

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Hi! I'm writing an essay on "Classic Wrestling," which I'm defining as late 60's to early 80's, and I want to get the input of the people who most share my appreciation for this incomparable time in wrestling history!

The question is:

What are the themes that define Classic Wrestling? What is it about this era that makes us love it so much, both inside and outside the ring?

If this subject interests you, I would be deeply interested in all you have to say about the matches, the personalities, the life on the road -- anything and everything you have to say about Classic Wrestling, whether it's just a short list or a ten page lecture!

I want to give a voice to those of us who treasure this era by painting a vivid picture of what makes it so great; from the broadest themes down to the smallest details.

Thank you for taking the time to check in on this topic, it is much appreciated!
-Blackwell
I could probably start typing now and not finish for three hours, but I already wrote a long essay on Flair tonight in the Lost In Translation thread so I am written out.

If you are truly interested for research purposes I would check out the ECW Press books "The Pro Westling Hall of Fame, The Tag Teams", and "The Heels" both are very well written time capsules.

I would also drop everything and buy the DVD "Memphis Heat" that will tell you everything you need to know about life in the territory days, plus it's a great watch.

click here to see what I mean.
http://www.memphis-heat.com/

I would also predict you don't get much of a response here. It's just too many questions and topics for most guys to respond to. I would scroll through the older threads here, ask specific questions or pm some of the guys you notice have a good wrestling history background.
 

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There is so much I could say, although it would be best left to people like GreenLawler, Batko etc.. who could really fill you in with some insights, i'm more fond of the early - mid 90's era, so kinda miss out on the period you're wanting.

A good shoot to watch though would be Rick Martel's, simply because you'll learn a lot from this shoot ... specially about the matches, the personalities, the life on the road etc.. he tells so many things, without the whole slamming on other talents, that most shoots do ... and so many people have learnt a lot from this, which they never knew before hand from these era's up until now.

Check it out here if you would like to :

 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks to both of you guys, that's very helpful information - not sure if I saw this Martel shoot yet, but I'm going to watch it right now either way. The Memphis DVD I definitely didn't see and I'm sure I could learn a lot; being that the territory represents a lot of what I'm looking to portray in my essay.

I'm hoping my questions will inspire a few people to express what's at the heart of their love for this classic era - to whatever degree suits them - but perhaps I would be well-served to PM a few people to get some deeper insights.

Thank you kindly for taking the time to post here!
 

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Thanks to both of you guys, that's very helpful information - not sure if I saw this Martel shoot yet, but I'm going to watch it right now either way. The Memphis DVD I definitely didn't see and I'm sure I could learn a lot; being that the territory represents a lot of what I'm looking to portray in my essay.

I'm hoping my questions will inspire a few people to express what's at the heart of their love for this classic era - to whatever degree suits them - but perhaps I would be well-served to PM a few people to get some deeper insights.

Thank you kindly for taking the time to post here!
I guess I will give it a shot since that time period is my wheelhouse.

I was one of the really lucky kids growing up to live in an area where I got to see multiple territories every week at various times. Our stations here ran CWA (Memphis), World Class, Continintal and I could see Georgia, and WWF on cable, ad later AWA. I also vactioned in Florida often and got to watch their shows a couple of times a year.

I believe the modern era started sometime just after Hogan won the belt in WWF and the WWF began their talent drain of the territories. While territories like Pacific Northwest and Memphis were able to hang on for a long time. The chain reaction and precedent was set. Now the smaller territories abandoned what had worked for them for 30 years and tried to immitate the WWF.

I guess the main thing that seperated this era from today was the emphasis on kayfabe, and realism. Shooters and Hookers were often used at the top but the value of the day at least was in the brawler, it was in the fued, it was about how bad your guy was going to beat up the other guy.

As I said in another thread, a well executed suplex was considered a high spot, and a fist to the gut was just as important.
Build was really not as important either especially in certain territories.

What made this era great was the variety, the mystery, and the touring stars. You see we learned everything we could from magazines. We heard of Kiniski, and Sullivan, Mascaras and Idol. But for the most part we had to wait until they came to town to see them. This created a sense of intrigue. Could our top guy Lawler compete with their top guy? Who was this Dusty Rhodes? Was Baron Von Rashcke or The Mongolian Stomper really that evil?
In the south; Mid-South, Florida, Georgia, World Class, Southwest, Mid Atlantic and CWA the wrestlers would work shows every night and had weekly cards in certain 'base cities". On the nights they did not work the base cities they were in smaller towns all over their terriroty. Wild stories of road trips are all over the internet. Guys would often have to be at the tv taping one morning and drive a state or two away for that nights card.
The wrestlers always had to make it interesting in order for fans to come out every week. Therefore the television shows had to be wild and crazy. In the AWA and WWF they could afford to run just a few interesting angles each month because their cards were mainly monthly.
If a wrestler started to lose their heat in an area they simply moved to another territory, and ran with a gimmick that worked for them somewhere else or reinvinted themself. Guys like "Roughhouse" Fargo and Carl Fergie were jobbers or referees in some territories, main eventers in others. Not like today where if you don't make it in the WWE you are forced to go to TNA if they have a spot, or work an independent. It also gave guys the chance to test their characters. A guy like Jack Hart could be a babyface one place and the heel Jimmy Jack Funk in another. We had no idea he was both because we did not usually get both television markets. There was no IWC so a guy like Bill Irwin could be the Super-Destroyer without worrying about fans knowing who he was and chanting "Wild Bill".
But the main thing was the style, the style of wrestling always reflects the society, the 60's were an experiment in what could be just like the culture in America, the 70's were wild and anything goes, the 80's became more polished and production heavy.
What made those of us love it so much is that you could believe it. In fact allot of fans did. Until the 20/20 episode that buried Kayfabe there was a large segment of fans who believed it was real. Depending on what area you followed the amount of fans who believed changed. I would say that in Memphis it was 50-50, but in territories with larger more metropolitan cities it was probably only 30% tops who believed. That believability decreased as the years went on. But even those of us who knew, and I knew almost immediatly, we "wanted" to believe, we pretended it was real while mocking our favorites in living room matches across the country.
Each territory had it's main guys, the handfull of guys who had the ability to never wear out their welcome. Oftentimes they became bookers of these territories, becuase they were invested there, had grown roots there. This led to long term rivalries that lasted for years. Kevin Sullivan and Dusty Rhodes could fued a few months and then take time off, then go right back at it a few weeks later and no one thought it was stale. Jerry Lawler had his list of guys he could go to at anytime like Dundee and Mantell, Idol or Funk.
But the fact that any given week you never knew who would show up on your weekly show made an impact as well. Guys were constantly moving around, especially the mid card guys looking to find an area to hit it big. You would be watching your weekly show and all of a sudden here comes Killer Karl Krupp or The Freebirds. It was exciting. You had read about them, now you got to see them.
Most territories also had their own local heel manager to provide continuity. They could be the focal point of hate in a territory for long stretches simply by bringing in a new heel for their stable. Guys like Gary Hart, Oliver Humperdink, Jimmy Hart, The Wizard, they could be the heel and only take a bump themselves because they were sheilded by their men. This made it extra special when the face actualy got to them.
The storylines were always changing as well, the territores always had new fresh ideas because they could borrow something that worked somewhere else. Again most people were unable to change the channel to another territory. There was truly a sense of constant change and excitment.
We also saw with the beggining of the Monday Night Wars a dissapearance of the traditional jobber. Suddenly guys like Frezzer Thompson were obsolete. Television became so much more important than arena show. They needed competitve matches from start to finish. No longer were fans forced to watch Keith Eric vs Austin Idol, or The Pink Panther vs Tommy Rich. Now posters on this forum talk about true mid card talents like they were jobbers. And guys considered main event level stars during this era would be considered mid carders now. This has led to a major dissconnect on the legacies of many 70's stars, now defined by this generation as a mid carder or even jobber because they were not a world champion. The definitions have changed.
I guess you could really sum up this era by saying it was special simply because there were so many territories and so many things going on. You really had to buy the magazines every month to find out about the wrestling world instead of loging on.
I miss the era, but I also understand there are some things about the modern era that are great as well.
 

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A wallaby? Well it's like a kangaroo but smaller.
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Thanks to both of you guys, that's very helpful information - not sure if I saw this Martel shoot yet, but I'm going to watch it right now either way. The Memphis DVD I definitely didn't see and I'm sure I could learn a lot; being that the territory represents a lot of what I'm looking to portray in my essay.

I'm hoping my questions will inspire a few people to express what's at the heart of their love for this classic era - to whatever degree suits them - but perhaps I would be well-served to PM a few people to get some deeper insights.

Thank you kindly for taking the time to post here!
You're welcome, hope it helped you and provided you with some insight or information for you to be able to work from :)
 

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Classic wrestling is so fascinating. That's why I really hoped Rock's territory days show he pitched to NBC would be picked up. There is just so much behind the scenes stuff to be mined from it. Sex, drugs, politics, violence.

Wrestling now is very corporate and sterile. Back then it was on the raggedy edge. Promoters paying wrestlers to injure the stars of other promotions. Organized crime involvement. Ring rats, dealers, corrupt athletic commissions. Plus so much comedy. Think of the the great ribs.

Would have been a great show with the right show runner. Plus put it on an uncensored outlet like HBO, Showtime, or Netflix.
 

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Keeping in mind WWE's propensity for altering history to suit it's own needs, I'd still recommend several of their DVD compilations.

Triumph and Tragedy of World Class Championship Wrestling
Spectacular Legacy of the AWA
History of the World Heavyweight Championship
Legends of Mid-South
Hart and Soul: Hart Family Anthology
Most Powerful Families in Wrestling

Also, check out some of the classic WWWF/WWF material here. http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL21NSq95sFwM6vChmy2aPz7QKuuxHkiDj

It's a start, I'd also recommend reading books by/about talent who experienced those periods.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I guess I will give it a shot ...
I just had to thank you personally for your amazing contribution to my thread, but I can't PM cuz I'm a noob on the site. Hahah

You have been very generous with your time and your perspective and it is sincerely appreciated. Man, you really took us for a ride too - I was seeing clips in my head while I was reading! Fantastic.

I think what you were saying about reading the magazines and experiencing that mystery and build-up before ever seeing a guy is a big factor. And guys staying fresh by making their way around the territories too. Of course kayfabe must be part of any conversation concerning the era because even if you knew it was a work, there was always that room for doubt when things really got hectic.

Thank you again, I hope you enjoyed writing as much as I enjoyed reading. I will be referring back to this often.
-Blackwell
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
2 ton, you bring to light and important point - wrestling was a fringe culture; these guys weren't living through experiences that most people would consider common.

777, thanks for the resource list, I'm taking in everything I can and then will sit back and try to paint the big picture.
 
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