Monday, November 28, 2011


It was not until my teen years that wrestling won my heart. The stage had been set for it early on--Mighty Mouse to Tarzan to sword-and-sandal heroes to James Bond to Jim West on The Wild Wild West. The wrestling my uncle watched on TV when we visited over the holidays repulsed me--overweight slobs slugging each other in a decidedly seedy setting, no Greco-Roman columns, no loin cloths, no depilated bronze torsos, no Hollywood polish. What happened to change my mind, I can't really say. In high school I started wrestling some of my buddies. We'd strip down to our BVDs and grapple on the bedroom floor. Perhaps that did it. That actual physical contact might have led me to start looking at wrestling differently and perhaps to change my ideals of male beauty, beginning to start thinking of the beauty of bodies in motion and collision, rather than strictly of square jaws, high cheekbones, symmetrical pecs, and big biceps--though, honestly, what first drew me in high school to befriend athletes was their stature, their noble faces, and their well-developed muscles.

Jack Brisco was the first wrestler to make an imprint on my fantasy life, and I can see traces of Brisco in most of my opinions about pro wrestling and wrestlers today. From him I got my ideal of a perfect fight scenario--the straight-up scientific wrestler beaten down by the hair-pulling, dirty-fighting heel only to rise up, when the situation looks darkest, and defeat the bad guy with a sudden, honest pinfall. After decades, this is still my favorite angle. From Brisco, too, I got my appreciation for sweat and that bit of loose flesh over muscle that makes a man look vulnerable, that provides a handle for managing him, and that splats rather nicely against other loose flesh and muscle. 

Brisco's best battles were against the Funk brothers. Here we see Jack up against Terry Funk in a NWA match in Fort Lauderdale in 1973. The commentator Gordon Solie is another reason I love pro wrestling today. Probably without meaning to, Solie introduced me to the power of words to make a fight seem sexy. The YouTube video is courtesy of t72fins's channel.

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