Pro Wrestling Hall Of Fame
427 pages

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427 pages

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Professional wrestling has always been about the forces of evil trying to undermine everything good. Every villainous heel needs a hero to battle against - someone the fans can root for and look up to. Heroes and Icons is an in-depth look at the protagonists of pro wrestling. The authors have left out nothing, examining the professional wrestling world from the 1930s until now. Not limiting themselves to household names, the authors dig deeper to tell the story of forgotten heroes and regional stars. Most of all, Heroes and Icons asks, What makes a great hero?''



Publié par
Date de parution 11 janvier 2013
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9781770902695
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 5 Mo

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0500€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.


foreword by J.J. DILLON

The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Canadians
The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Tag Teams
The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Heels

This book is dedicated to J Michael Kenyon, of whom was once written, “he was often more interesting than the stories he was covering,” and the other historians who pore through old newspapers, microfilm, and historical data, gather interviews and anecdotes, organize results from arenas big and small, and, when asked, share what they have learned with others.

J Michael Kenyon delivers his speech after receiving the James C. Melby Award for his contributions to professional wrestling journalism at the George Tragos/Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame in Waterloo, Iowa, in July 2010. (WAYNE MCCARTY)

Cowboy Bob Ellis gets his boots ready, as Mighty Igor and Tex McKenzie (back to camera) listen to Ben Justice in the babyface dressing room in Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens. (ROGER BAKER)

Bruno Sammartino, Luis Martinez, and Dominic Denucci are all smiles, just the way babyfaces should be. (ROGER BAKER)

The concept of professional wrestling is very simple. It comes down to mano e mano usually portrayed as good against evil. The fans may be subjected to disappointments along a series of confrontations because villains have been known to cheat, bend the rules, and do whatever is necessary to get a win. However, in the end the loyal wrestling fan can feel confident that the babyface will ultimately prevail. The “final confrontation” usually unfolds in a classic battle that could go either way until that final moment when the babyface triumphs. This last battle is seldom quick and decisive so the fan usually gets everything anticipated and then some. Professional wrestling traditionally has delivered more than advertised. The heel, though beaten and battered, survives to fight again another day.
Though the faces change and the level of intensity may vary, the basic story is retold over and over again in some form. The individual personas of the various characters involved give the ongoing telling of “the story” a sense of freshness. It only works with both parts of the equation involved. The hottest of heels must eventually meet a hero worthy of meeting the challenge. To achieve the maximum results you need the very best babyface to challenge the red hot heel.
In The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Heels we saw wrestling’s greatest villains showcased. Now with Heroes and Icons the authors are putting wrestling’s greatest babyfaces in the spotlight.
I spent most of my career being hated by the fans. The great run of The Four Horsemen had longevity because when the bell rang, across the ring were “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes and his friends. In truth, we needed Dusty to have financial success. It wasn’t always smooth sailing. How many times has a man said, “Women . . . you can’t live with them, and you can’t live without them.” Well, every successful heel will tell you, “Babyfaces . . . they can be frustrating to deal with, but you can’t achieve success without them.”
— J.J. Dillon, December 2011

A bloody Dusty Rhodes battles J.J. Dillon in a bullrope match in Florida in 1972. (COURTESY OF SCOTT TEAL/CROWBAR PRESS)

Wrestling hero worship takes many forms, in many places. Jules Strongbow, the long-time California-based booker and promoter, was touring Africa when he came across two native children locked in a free-for-all. Local residents pulled them apart, and a guide explained the source of their discontent to Strongbow and the members of his traveling party: “They were getting ready to wrestle and they were fighting over who would be Jimmy Londos.”
In the great valley of East Tennessee, a boyish Les Thatcher joined with a lean, soft-spoken, glass factory worker named Whitey Caldwell to form a heroic duo that took the region by storm in 1969 and 1970. One day, they received mail at Channel 26 in Knoxville, the local TV wrestling outlet, and opened a Christmas card signed by all the members of a University of Tennessee sorority. “It amazes me to think, ‘My God, you made that kind of impact and left that kind of impression,’” Thatcher said, “because at the time it doesn’t even cross your mind that you’re doing something that will move people to do something like that.”
And a hero moved schoolchildren in an elementary school in Mobile, Alabama, in March 1972. Popular “Cowboy” Bob Kelly had earned a suspension for mistakenly slugging a National Wrestling Alliance representative — actually a rep from another Southern promotion — who climbed into the ring to halt an out-of-control battle with Don Fargo. With no master guidance, thousands of petitions suddenly started appearing at the Gulf Coast wrestling office in support of Kelly. Future pro Michael Norris was in sixth grade and he remembers Kelly’s impact on his fans. “All the kids at my school signed one. Kelly told me later that they got something like 2,000 signatures, plus letters from fans that they kept for years in the office,” Norris said.
Heroes are an important part of every sport, but nowhere more so than in professional wrestling, which is based primarily on a good guy/bad guy dynamic, or was until recent years. Dr. David M. Reiss, a California-based psychiatrist who studies wrestling, calls it the most psychologically intriguing, complex, and exciting brand of athletic competition around, and believes the hero is an essential part of that mix. In football or baseball, fans usually root more for teams than for individuals, since the allegiances of today’s players can change on a dime because of free agency or other factors. Even competitors in individual sports like boxing or mixed martial arts, the genres closest to wrestling, don’t involve the audience, tell a story, or cultivate a deep emotional attachment like Londos or Kelly or hundreds of other wrestlers, Reiss said. “What you’re offering to fans is an alliance with invulnerable heroes,” according to Reiss, a contributor at Cauliflower Alley Club seminars, who relates the way fans think: “‘I may not be able to overcome everything. But he or she is, and if I can connect with them, I share some of that’ . . . It’s a sense of connecting with an invulnerable hero.”

Masters at work: Jack Brisco sells Dory Funk Jr.’s abdominal stretch. (COURTESY OF SCOTT TEAL/CROWBAR PRESS)
This book is about the heroes and icons of pro wrestling, though you’ll often encounter the insider term “babyface,” which generally means the chap who is wrestling as the fan favorite. We prefer broader terms like heroes and icons because somehow the word “babyface” doesn’t fit quite right under an 8x10 of a nail-spitting Dick “The Bruiser” or a middle-finger-flipping “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, both of whom nonetheless wrestled on the side of right for sizable chunks of their careers. Of course, it takes two to tango, and any discussion of crowd pleasers, however they are defined, owes a hat tip to the heels that make their success possible. “Leaping” Lanny Poffo explained exactly how he learned how every hero needs a great protagonist. Poffo’s second match ever in Madison Square Garden was against Terry Funk in July 1985. “I walked down the aisle to what I would call polite applause. I wasn’t exactly The Beatles of 1964. I mean, they weren’t unhappy to see me but they weren’t going crazy. So Terry Funk comes down the aisle and he takes two steps and he gets in an argument with a fan. And then he takes two more steps and he wants to kill somebody. And then they want to kill him. I think it took him five minutes to get to the ring, and he’s torn the house down, and I’m thinking to myself, ‘I’ve got to be the luckiest guy in the world. All I have to do is stand here.’ Losing to Terry Funk made me more important in the eyes of the fans and to the office than if I had beaten three guys.” As Dr. Tom Prichard, a long-time star and later a trainer in Florida Championship Wrestling, put it, “Superman had to have Lex Luthor. Batman had the Joker, the Penguin. I believe Hulk Hogan and The Iron Sheik were made for each other. Hulk Hogan and Macho Man were made for each other. Hulk Hogan was Superman, but without that foe to conquer, what do you have?”
Experts say there’s no single “best” type of hero — they come in many different flavors and they all can be effective box office attractions, depending on such variables as marketing, fan preferences, or booking patterns. Traditionally, New York, Texas, and southern California were strongholds for Latino or ethnic attractions. Midwest cities such as St. Louis and Minneapolis were more associated with an athletic, amateur-based style, while Tennessee was synonymous with smaller wrestlers and a Southern style of brawling. The annals of wrestling are full of matinee idols like Billy Darnell, who made female fans swoon; gimmick guys like The Mighty Igor, who practiced a blend of childlike innocence and superhuman strength; and technical greats like Sonny Myers, who adapted his silky-smooth style to coax a great match out of even the least skilled adversary. That kind of variety was essential, said star Johnny Powers, who owned part of the Cleveland office, because promoting the right hero was a hit-and-miss proposition. “Part of it was the push you gave to the individual, which we did, myself included, in our area, and then the other part was what I called the natural inclination of the natives, the local fans, to accept or not accept you,” he said. “Sometimes a guy would draw in Cleveland and Akron for some reason, so-so in Buffalo, but then he wouldn’t do m

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