Notes on The World of Sports
Herman "Dutch" Rohde* vs Ash Mahoney
- I know I take wrestling too seriously because the glib and condescending tone of the narrator of this featurette pisses me off.
- This early 1940s match is hardly wrestling at all, more like a choreographed brawl, but I like it. The choreography shows a respect for fighting and is inspired by it.
- Interesting to see how small wrestlers were back in the pre-television days and how volatile the action is.
- Rohde is a hot number, all the hotter for his toughness and feistiness.
- It's worth noting that Mahoney (with hairy chest and bulkier trunks) leads with a heel move before the two are out of their entrance robes. Though he eventually evolved into a heel, here Rohde is fighting fire with fire.
- I love the old names of wrestlers, unabashedly ethnic and corny. This is well before the days when ring names had to be cool, suggesting rockstardom and big money. These were names that suited babyfaces and heels equally. They also suggested the geographies and histories of the athletes ... and their fans. They were proudly, democratically working-class names. Nowadays the names represent working-class fantasies of success as manufactured and marketed by multi-millionaires who retain the proprietary rights to those names. (See #9 below.)
- Breaking the rules has dramatic impact only if there are rules in the first place, hence the important role a referee plays.
- We're looking at pre-casual days, when fans at ringside wore suits and ties or dresses and hats. I would hate to have to dress up like this every time I went out in public, but there's something respectful about the old-fashioned dress codes, too.
- This match is more physical and passionate than most matches today, which involve more posing and attitudinizing. Nowadays the matches are about business, climbing the corporate ladder, and the marketing of the self in the form of merchandise and celebrity. Back then, the matches were more about the struggle of living one's life and getting by.
- This is roughhouse. Today's wrestling is Vegas.
*Before he became "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers