Sunday, January 26, 2014

Do the Eye Gouge, You Turkey Necks: Don's top 10 wrestlers of all time

(Can anyone name the song from the post's title? Also, a reference to a "character" in the movie Her.)

In the Squared Circle, author David Shoemaker concludes that professional wrestling is "not fake but it is choreographed." Fair enough but the book has unleashed a battle royale of nostalgia and memory.

While Mr Shoemaker's exploration of wrestling begins at the turn of the century with large men grappling each other for hours at a time and continues to the present day (which is 2013 in his book), my wrestling relationship has two periods. As a boy in the late 50s and a father to a boy in the late 1980s, early 1990s.

I remember taking my son and a young friend along with his father to the Rosemont Horizon to see a WWF card featuring The Ultimate Warrior, Hulk Hogan, and other stars of the era some time in the 90s.

Of course, no discussion of wrestling would be complete without a a tip of the mask to Barton Fink and his travails in Hollywood.

Now people are going to say to you, Wallace Beery, wrestling, it's a B picture. You tell them: BULLSHIT! 

Only one of my top ten come from the WWF era. I remember my wrestling heroes on black and white TV. And for some reason, I can't get them out of my head.

10 Edouard Carpentier: Click on the link for the human interest story behind the "flying French Man."

Byline: Mike Aka the Professor.
Young Edouard grew up in France during the Nazi occupation of that country. He was just a teenaged boy yet a full fighting member of the Underground, the famous French Resistance during World War II. His bravery and fighting skill was of enough heroic caliber to be recognized.

He was captured by the invaders at age 16 and escaped being taken a prisoner of the Nazis in one of their concentration camps. Joining the Resistance, he acquitted himself well enough to be decorated for bravery.

For his efforts, he was the recipient of both the Croix des combattants and Croix de Guerre medals. Edouard received them from the French government at the end of the war! His heroics weren't only just in the pro wrestling ring; he was a real life, medal-bedecked, card-carrying, bona fide hero!

9. The Fabulous Kangaroos

The Australian tag team that defined "heels."

Check out some classic Kangaroo action as they interrupt a lovely presentation to Sweet Daddy Siki and Seaman Art Thomas. (the action begins at .30 and ends at 1:30).

More Sweet Daddy and Art Thomas later. But the melancholy of Sweet Daddy Siki upon having his jacket destroyed is heart breaking.

8. From Moosehead Maine, Moose Cholak aka Golden Moose, Yukon Moose, Edward.

Okay, he was not from Moosehead Maine. In fact, he was a Croatian born in Chicago.

Mr. Cholak was a wrestler with a college education and an inquiring mind. In the early 1960s he attended lectures on Zen Buddhism that Alan Watts delivered at the University of Chicago. Then he went to Lake Forest to hear novelist Aldous Huxley talk about visionary experience. He said Huxley had taken LSD and was hallucinating. Mr. Cholak went backstage and when Huxley learned he had heard Watts, made him sit down and they talked for an hour about Zen and Watts.

7. The Crusher, nee Reginald Lisowski of South Milwaukee.

Crusher became politically involved in his later years and publicly endorsed Wisconsin senator Russ Feingold.(published on Wikipedia without citation but I like it.)

For your listening pleasure....

6." Seaman" Art Thomas, aka "Sailor Art Thomas"
Art Thomas clobbers Cowboy Parker

He wrestled under both names from the 1960s and until 1987 where he was defeated in a Battle Royale by Lou Thesz.

Lou Thesz defeated Al Costello and Arnold Skaaland and Art Thomas and Baron Mikel Scicluna and Bobo Brazil and Chief Jay Strongbow and The Crusher and Dominic DeNucci and Édouard Carpentier and Gene Kiniski and Gino Brito and Killer Kowalski and Nick Bockwinkel and Pat O'Connor and Pedro Morales and Ray Stevens and Rene Goulet and Tony Garea

On,  I learned that Seaman Art Thomas fought 1.070 matches with a record 552 wins and 236 losses.

5. Sweet Daddy Siki,

"A lot of people try to copy me, but there's only one Niagara Falls and only one Mona Lisa. And there's only one Mr. Irresistible -- Sweet Daddy Siki."

Sweet Daddy hosts Karaoke in Toronto on Saturday afternoons at the Duke.

4. Dick the Bruiser, nee William Fritz Afflis

Often paired with the Crusher, these two gravelly voiced large white men were a part of my 5 channel TV upbringing.

Let's enjoy a few moments with the gents.

3. Bo Bo Brazil, nee Houston Harris (July 10, 1924 — January 20, 1998)

Bobo Brazil delivers his devastating Coco Butt to the Sheik


Even in the dark days of segregation, Bobo Brazil was able to transcend issues of race. African-Americans looked at him as a role model, and even spectators with racist attitudes couldn't contain themselves from leaping to their feet and cheering for the popular Superstar. Many have even referred to Brazil as the "Jackie Robinson of sports-entertainment" in response to the way Brazil and Robinson similarly broke down racial barriers in their respective sports

2. Antonino Rocca (born Antonino Biasetton, April 13, 1927 – March 15, 1977, too young)

The great flying bare foot wrestler....and he beat Superman!

Rocca was a popular face and in some cities with both Italian American and especially Hispanic audiences, his following was exceptionally large and loyal. He also possessed Argentine citizenship.
He had a love for opera and was apparently described as having an excellent – if untrained – singing voice. Maestro Arturo Toscanini, a wrestling fan, was good friends with Rocca.[

See his top ten moves according to Patricia13386

1. Andre the Giant (André René Roussimoff May 19, 1946 – January 27, 1993)

Andre the Giant transcends the WWF world and is an entity under himself. And for symmetry...

Due to his immense stature it seemed inevitable that Andre would excel in the wrestling world. He had just started to make a name for himself in the ring as "Monster Eiffel Tower" or "Monster Roussimoff" when French-Canadian wrestler Edouard Carpentier first laid eyes on him. Carpentier was impressed with Andre's raw talent and decided to bring him to North America. Andre began wrestling under the name Jean Ferre in Canada for Grand Prix Promotions. 

Andre the Giant will be long remembered for his role as Fezzik in the Princess Bride.

In this scene is the essence of professional wrestling. "Not fake but choreographed."


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  2. While you were watching wrestlers, I was watching:
    Rocky & Bullwinkle, Candid Camera, Lassie, The Lone Ranger & Zorro (mostly I think I liked their outfits and their horses), Topper -- most of the shows at least were familiar and I seem to have spent a lot of time with the cartoons. Moving into the 60's I discovered females, spies and humor and cool graphics: Gidget, Patty Duke, Bewitched, Get Smart, The Mod Squad, Man from Uncle, The Wild Wild West... Hated slapstick, country music, Lawrence Welk, but everything seems familiar. Did I watch shows I didn't like? Apparently.

  3. Other than Gidget, I watched all that too.