My definition of "classic" is anything that provides a touchstone in the development of an art form, a product, a technique, or a culture (including a subculture). It need not be the highest attainment in every respect. Down the line, innovations will inevitably outstretch its achievements, but it remains the goto point for evaluating what comes after.
In film, for instance, King Kong, the 1933 version, one of my favorite movies of all time and inspirer of this blog's name, remains a benchmark of jungle adventure and special effects, though obviously in the latter department its jumpy stop-motion animation cannot hold a candle to what CGE technicians are able to accomplish today in films like Transformers or even relatively low-budget made-for-TV fantasy. Still, the original King Kong is a classic, justly elevated over two remakes that achieved more subtlety and verisimilitude in their visual effects.
This definition leaves room for subjectivity. What is a classic for me may not be a classic for you, though generally we expect a measure of consensus in the designation of classics. When I watch homoerotic wrestling, I continually measure it against certain standout matches I saw previously. But I recognize a classic the instant I see it--no need to wait years to see what will "stand the test of time." When I see it, I immediately sense the impact it is likely to have on everything else I will see.
For me six or seven titles spring immediately to mind when I think of "classics" ... Can-Am's Kick-Ass Bodybuilder Feud 1 (1994, featuring Paul Perris and Roman Stone, pictured above), BG Enterprise's High Stakes Wrestling 3 (1996), Naked Kombat's Nov. 18, 2009--Rusty Stevens vs Tommy Defendi: The Oil Match, and at least four titles from BG East: Motel Madness 1 (1991), Tag Team Torture 6 (2004), Ultra Fight 7 (2007), and Gazebo Grapplers 11 (2010)--and that's without even giving the topic a lot of thought.
Now, as 2010 comes to a close and thoughts of "auld lang syne" come naturally tumbling into my consciousness, it's a good time to think back on the images, matches, gear, and personalities that shaped my current tastes and kinks. This week, I'm pulling out the old (print) brochures and catalogs and looking them over. I don't want to live in the past, but since the past is the yardstick I use to measure the present, it's not a good idea to forget it either. If you still have a VHS machine and VHS tapes, why not dust them off and revisit the old stuff? (Thankfully companies are beginning to re-release some of their vintage videos in DVD format.) I cherish the classics, even as I look forward to the rush of bold, new sensations 2011 is likely to bring my way.