American Legion, Sikeston, Missouri, 1938: I want somebody to make a movie about this photograph. Maybe something along the lines of Paper Moon or Hard Times or They Shoot Horses, Don't They? or Bonnie and Clyde. Is there a contemporary filmmaker who does gritty period pieces anymore? A documentary about Depression-era wrestling would do.


  1. What is it about old time wrestling that is so appealing to me over what is offered today? That it was heel vs. good guy? More mature ordinarily handsome looking non-steroided men? A sense it was more dangerous? It's a shame to me there isn't video of men like the Kozak Brothers and the original Paul Diamond facing those villains.

    1. I wonder about why i'm drawn to old wrestling pictures like this one, too. Several possibilities. The shows actually featured wrestling--on-the-mat grappling. It was a "special occasion" that folks got "dressed up" for. Also, as you said, the sense of danger and anything-could-happen back then, which is linked to the idea that, to most spectators, the fights were real, therefore the wrestlers had to put more effort into ensuring that they seemed real. The sense of its being a community event, as opposed to a mass media pseudo-event. Then there's the obvious, perhaps: nostalgic idealization of the past, ignoring (or being ignorant of the full extent of) its defects. Mostly, for me, I think it's the wrestling ... and the absence of irony and self-consciousness.

    2. I just looked at Joey Ryan pics in a match. In the old days he would have been the handsome hero facing the villains. Today they make him a clown and he basically is for comedy. It's a shame, but I think the handsome hero days are long gone because it's too "gay". I remember reading Bill Watts saying back in the early 80s in Mid South their $$$ dramatically increased when they brought in "sex symbols" like Terry Taylor and found that more than half their audience attendance suddenly became female.

  2. This photo graces our new facility in Lauderdale. It fascinates me as well. The face's expression and torso, his blow bridge, his hairy legs are all incredibly alluring. But in addition to the reasons you list above, Joe, for me there is the certainty that for some in that audience this is the pinnacle of all that they find exciting. And given the rarity of opportunity back then, that really resonates with me. Today we have plethora of images, moving and otherwise, literally at our fingertips, and in most places frequent opportunities to witness wrestling live. Back then they had what? How frustrating and very lonely it must have been for guys like us.



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