I recently unearthed a bunch of my wrestling DVDs and have been slowly reacquainting myself with some of my favorites. Wrestling Gold is one that I would particularly recommend; a five-disc set compiling televised matches from various regional promotions in the South and the Midwest ranging from the 1960s to the early ‘80s. Nothing is assembled in any particular order; this is simply a fun look back at “professional wrestling the way it used to be!” Remember when wrestling took place in local TV studios and smoke-filled arenas full of fans that were ready to storm the barricades on behalf of their heroes? Wrestling Gold sure does! Jim Cornette and Wrestling Observer editor Dave Meltzer host the festivities and also provide an alternate commentary track that I actually found preferable to the original broadcast most of the time. They’re both known for complaining a lot, but we get them on a good day when they are simply two wrestling experts having fun watching old matches. Cornette and Meltzer provide some kind of insight on every wrestler featured, giving back some of the context lost on today’s viewers seeing these matches for the first time. Throwaway TV matches become much more meaningful when hearing these two discuss the participants.
Randy Savage is featured heavily in the series, wrestling the likes of Jerry Lawler and tag teaming with Lanny Poffo against the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express. One of those tag team matches sees the Macho Man give Ricky Morton a piledriver through a ringside table, prompting Jim Cornette to exclaim “ECW DIDN’T INVENT IT, FOLKS!” on the alternate commentary. The Sheik throws fire in the faces of Mark Lewin and a young Andre the Giant! Bruiser Brody and Abdullah the Butcher embark on one of their wild bloody brawls! Terry Funk loses the NWA world heavyweight championship to Harley Race! Chief Jay Strongbow and Bulldog Don Kent fight in the confines of a shark cage! King Kong Bundy has hair! You even get to see Terrible Ted the Wrestling Bear! I was happy to see multiple matches from San Antonio featuring the late Gino Hernandez, for he is your champion! I also gained a new level of respect for Jerry “The King” Lawler after seeing his great work against the likes of Nick Bockwinkel, Eddie Gilbert, and the Road Warriors. You may find it hard to believe, but I bet the King could step into the ring on the next Monday Night Raw and cut a better promo than virtually the entire roster! He can probably throw a better punch too! Wrestling Gold is awesome and probably not that hard to find, so be a wrestling fan and track it down!
Did I mention Randy Savage earlier? Well, “FREAK OUT! FREAK OUT!” because the Macho Man was finally inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame! You can say whatever you want about the Hall’s legitimacy, but this wrestling fan is glad that it happened! I obviously would have preferred to see the induction take place while Savage was still alive—the acceptance speech would have been amazing—but circumstances cannot be helped. Word around the campfire was that he repeatedly turned down the offer because he also wanted recognition for his father and younger brother’s accomplishments in the wrestling business. All three of them ran the so-called “outlaw” promotion International Championship Wrestling, who ran competing events against regional NWA-sanctioned territories before closing up shop in 1984. Father Angelo Poffo is probably better known for making the Guinness Book of World Records for performing 6,033 consecutive sit-ups than he is for setting wrestling attendance records. Leaping Lanny Poffo (or The Genius) was the WWF’s poet laureate, reciting verses about his opponents before they cleaned his clock. Nothing against Angelo or Lanny, but neither of them ascended to the same heights as Randy did. Lanny recognized that and accepted the induction on his late brother’s behalf. Better late than never, I say!
Randy Savage’s early Memphis and WWF matches have been a staple of my wrestling diet lately and I cannot help but be taken back in time while watching them. You can keep your flips and rolls at a hundred miles an hour with no meaning—Saturday mornings were not complete without the Macho Man dropping another flying elbow on some poor sap! He was one of the first “bad guy” wrestlers that I actually liked, at least until he crushed Ricky Steamboat’s larynx with the timekeeper’s bell! You didn’t do that to the Dragon! However, everyone knew that the eventual comeback match would steal the show and it certainly did! Although I wanted to see Hulk Hogan bodyslam Andre the Giant as much as everyone else, Savage vs. Steamboat at WrestleMania III was one of the first matches that made me say “now THAT is why I watch wrestling!”
My parents even enjoyed watching the Macho Man at work—I think casual adult fans in general loved his ongoing saga with valet Miss Elizabeth. Everyone can relate to being angry at seeing a jealous boyfriend or husband treating their gorgeous significant other like a doormat, after all…right? My mom may or may not have gotten teary-eyed when Savage proposed to Elizabeth on TV years later. She was such a big fan that she bought her own Randy Savage Wrestling Superstars figure! When she gave it to me nearly thirty years later, the Macho Man’s original packaging was still intact and unopened! He was a hero and a villain to us, often simultaneously. There will never be another one like him!
Wrestling fans, I have heard quite a few punk and hardcore bands with a love for the True Sport of Kings over the years, but there is only one standing at the top of the heap as my personal favorite! Turn up your stereo loud and have the hand of Rock (and I don’t mean Dwayne Johnson) smash your face while the foot of Roll kicks your sorry ass courtesy of ANTiSEEN! What does the name “Antiseen” mean, you ask? ANTI-EVERYTHING YOU STAND FOR, MOTHERFUCKER! These boys don’t give a damn about your moral, political, or dietary fanaticism! Antiseen only cares about the finer things in life—good times, shitkicking rock ‘n’ roll, horror movies, and professional wrestling! Believe me; they know their wrestling through and through! They originally came from the same city as Ric Flair and Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling—Charlotte, North Carolina! Hell, some of their members have actually seen the Nature Boy live during his prime and even cheered him on when doing so could get you beaten to a pulp! Not everyone can say that! Antiseen has been at it since 1983, so I would be surprised if you were a fan of ugly punk rock ‘n’ roll and had not at least heard something about them—good or bad!
Antiseen have written numerous songs about wrestling greats over the years and all of them are compiled on the appropriately-titled Falls Count Anywhere: A Collection of Wrestling Songs CD, released by the Rusty Knuckles label in 2012. They pay tribute to legends like Abdullah the Butcher, Cactus Jack, Terry Funk, and Sabu while also covering “Badstreet USA” by Michael Hayes of the Fabulous Freebirds. I am pretty much a fan of any wrestler who spews the Green Mist, so “The Mysterious Green Mist” ranks high in my book! “Invader 1 Must Die” is a Cocknoose cover wishing death upon Jose Gonzalez, the masked Puerto Rican grappler who stabbed Bruiser Brody to death in 1988. Other masked wrestlers are chronicled in “From Parts Unknown.” Just in case you thought Antiseen were on the “good guy” side of the wrestling fence, “I’m a Babyface Killer” is there to tell you otherwise! Antiseen are heels and proud of it!
R.I.P. El Hijo del Perro Aguayo.