Earlier this year, I talked about my feelings for old-school Southern regional wrestling, the first wrestling to draw me in as a teen. It was not the only or first time I blogged glowingly about the old days, when I felt unmistakable twinges of lust for wrestlers not even half as beautiful or gym-toned as wrestlers today. Lately I have attributed these persistent strong feelings to nostalgia, but back then, already aware that Robert Conrad and Jan-Michael Vincent were, objectively speaking, ten times more pinup-worthy than Jack Brisco and Ron Fuller, I figured that Brisco's and Fuller's attractiveness was due to the way they physically engaged their opponents. Their and their opponents' grunts, groans, and growls, slathered with sweat and heat curling the air over their shoulders, were (and still are) what male-bonding should sound like.
The Southern wrestling tradition still survives, though overshadowed by the flashing, kaleidoscopic three-ring circus that is WWE and its successful imitators. Late last year, I forked over $300+ for me and my friends to see WWE Raw up close and live, perhaps to scratch off an item from my bucket list, but in the process demolishing my last illusion that WWE might be either wrestling or entertaining for me. I now appreciate what a bargain it is to pay just $20 to see wrestlers like Damien Wayne and Jimmy Jack Funk Jr. giving everything they've got for a crowd of 200 or so.
To rehearse some of the reasons I love Southern wrestling, in particular, I direct your attention to this match on YouTube: young, jacked Corey Hollis of Alabama in competition against Shaun Tempers of Tennessee for NWA, back on May 20, 2011, in Soddy Daisy, Tennessee. It captures the essence of what Southern wrestling is for me:
- Hot-blooded young bucks locking horns,
- the satisfaction of loud stiff chops and closeup yelps as opposed to the wow factor of acrobatic backflips and moonsaults,
- each wrestler with a number of fans in his corner, no matter how lowdown his tactics, so long as the fans are convinced the opponent had a cheap shot coming to him,
- a world where hair is meant to be yanked and ropes are meant to be weapons, and
- somebody eventually getting dropped on his head.