What ever happened to Kurt Sterling? On Monday, my pal Mikey emailed a response to last Sunday's blog post. I like what he has to say, and though he expresses some disappointment in aspects of online wrestling entertainment today, he does so with understanding and grace ... and as a fan. When I asked for his permission to post it, he gave it on the condition that, if Kurt Sterling calls me up begging to meet him, I let him.
Happy new year! I saw your blog mention Kurt Sterling the other day. Kurt was one of my favorites back in the day. Although not a top tier ring personality like Davey Richards or Scotty Mac, he was physically a perfect indy pro wrestler. Face, body, hair, muscles. Did I mention face? He was more handsome than I usually like my men. And although he won a number of his fights, he was best at suffering. He was the kind of wrestler who pulled at the heartstrings: I wanted to get in there and help him! The mark of a great babyface. Unfortunately, unlike so many others of the Cyberfights crew from that era, he didn't go too far in the pro world. I think he spent a little time wrestling in the Western Canadian fed ECCW, and I heard then quit the biz to go into acting. I'll consider it a personal loss until I notice his sterling smile on the big screen.
I give the old Cyberfights a lot of credit for identifying a very large number of promising wrestlers who went on to bigger things in the indy and big leagues. They did a lot, I think, to bridge the gap between the "gay underground" and "mainstream" pro wrestling worlds. Nowadays, of course, many up and comers work in both arenas without hiding or seeming to suffer from it. In addition to being good talent scouts, their ring action was successfully both a little homoerotic AND fun pro-style wrestling. CWF also seemed to understand that much like good comedy, the eroticism came largely from playing it straight. True or not, the wrestlers seemed (mostly) like young, masculine, macho men having a good time trying to beat one another. The wrestlers brought their personalities and developed characters, feuds, styles, and finishing moves that were fun to watch over the course of their Cyberfights careers. As Ira Gershwin might have said, who could ask for anything more?
As for the "new" Cyberfights, alas, I am very underwhelmed. Hot guys, but dull as could be. I am not too surprised; I have not been much of a fan of the Can-Am product lines. Too many modelesque guys, not enough wrestleresque guys. The wrestling is often terrible, predictable, and worst of all, boring. And I think they were more than a tad unethical in repackaging old matches as "new" releases some years back. I purchased a few DVDs circa 2007 thinking I was getting exciting new matches, only to find that I had the same fights on different DVDs. I am a forgiving sort of fellow; if they release matches that interest me in the future, I will go back to being a regular customer. But the Can-Am powers that be seem to have an entirely different vision for Cyberfights than I do. Oh, well. I'll always have Kurt Sterling in my memories.According to Cagematch, Sterling, 6'1", 227#, was active in Canadian indy wrestling from 2004 to 2007, about the same time he wrestled for Cyberfights (with just over 30 DVD releases). In 2005-2006 he partnered with Cole Bishop as the tag team Hot & Bothered. According to IMDb, Kurt (as Kurt Feiertag) has two screen-acting credits, the 2007 mockumentary Kayfabe and last year's "Around the Bend," a nine-minute short. I haven't found either to be available for rental or sale. (There's also a Yahoo! group for fans of the guy.) Like Mikey, I have a thing for Sterling (he has exactly the right level of "handsome" for me, and, as Mikey points out, he is a terrific ring performer).
I can't make my mind up on the question of Can-Am/Cyberfights as they stand midway through the second decade of the century. There's a lot of the old stuff I'd like to catch up on, so I don't see them being deprived of a small share of my paycheck anytime soon. My interest in Can-Am began to dip in the late 1990s, right about the time that Cyberfights was taking off. Can-Am's focus shifted towards latex gear, dungeon scenes, prison rape fantasies, and superheroes. All fun stuff, mind you, just not wrestling as I love it. Meanwhile, Cyberfights ran with the pro-ring formula with subtle nods to wrestling's erotic component.
I miss the old butch bravado and rage of guys like Sterling, Perris, Dean, and Brandon, often like cannons firing into each other's muzzles point blank. At some point, the sexy macho head-butting gave way to lots of smirking and posing. Many of the recent matches look a bit mannered, stagey--and the wrestlers' emotions, "phoned in," as they say. There's a lot of nifty choreography, some mediocre porn, but not much of the fighting heart that I find sexy and entertaining, not even from wrestling stars who are gangbusters at other venues.
Things change, of course. Things are supposed to change. A wrestling company can't simply do the same thing over and over and over, indefinitely. Perhaps "scientific" catch wrestling on its own can't sell anymore. After all, even the giant WWF/WWE changed mainstream wrestling into a commodity you can buy into even if (especially if) you don't particularly like wrestling. The lights, the colors, the acrobatics, the wacky characters, the insane angles, the promos, the merch, the impressive displays of strength, wealth, and muscle formation, wow! Again, fun stuff. Just what ever happened to the wrestling?