Wrestling has changed over the years, but it's still the good guys versus the bad guys. Each week, millions of people gather around the television and watch what unfolds over the next two hours. Whether it is WWE, TNA, Ring of Honor or any of the other smaller promotions, fans tune in wanting to be entertained. Sure, it is scripted, we know the outcomes are already decided, but for generations, we keep being entertained by these larger than life figures of the squared circle.
With the recent passing of "Macho Man" Randy Savage, I got to thinking about what I miss about those days in the 1980s and how wrestling was different. Different eras offer different products, and both are positive in their own way. These are just some of the things that I miss. Feel free to post your own thoughts and ideas about what is missed in pro wrestling.
Andre the Giant perfected this look. It was almost guaranteed that if you were considered a "giant," then you would stroll to the ring in the one strap attire befitting a giant. Most big men today choose the double-strap method as their ring apparel, but only a few could pull off the one strap look. As a child, who wasn't afraid when Andre pulled the one strap down and everyone knew he meant business? It wasn't an official match until the strap was pulled.
There was a time when most announce teams featured the main broadcaster such as Gordon Solie, Gorilla Monsoon, Jim Ross or Tony Schiavone. Pair them with a "jerk" partner, and it made for broadcasting gold. Not only were we entertained by the match in the ring, but also entertained by the commentary being provided by the announcing crew. There may not have been a better pairing than Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby "the Brain" Heenan.
Heel announcers added flavor and color to the announce teams. Heenan always defended the bad guys in the ring and pulled for them to score the win. It was pure gold listening to Heenan get under Monsoon's skin and contradict everything that Monsoon stood for. Bobby Heenan was truly a legend at the announcer's table. Here is a sampling of some of Heenan's finest work.
Gorilla Monsoon: "The corner of the steps hit him
in the trapezius."
Bobby Heenan: "That's what they use in the
"Stu Hart trained all his kids--only three of them
use the litter box"
Before wrestling went crazy with all of the pyrotechnics, wrestling and theatrics, the run-in was one of the best parts of the match. When there were only a few cameras shooting the match, fans at home could not see who was coming in to save the match. All we could see was the crowd, rising as one, seeing who was running down to save our favorite wrestler.
Today, cameras pick up the wrestler right as they enter the building, leaving no suspense as to who is approaching the ring. As children, once we saw the crowd jump to their feet and look in the same direction, we couldn't wait to see who was coming. Today, the run-in has lost its luster, and fans no longer wait for the moment in the match when a run-in changes the momentum of the match.
Unless it is some sort of a gimmick match, a wrestler rarely brings anything with him to the ring. For those of us that lived in the 1980s, we can remember when animals were brought to the squared circle. While Koko B. Ware's beloved bird rarely affected the match, it was always a sight to see when Roberts untied the sack that he brought with him and threw Damien across the body of a fallen opponent. For those of us with Ophidiophobia (fear of snakes), we could only cringe at the thought of Damien slithering across us after suffering from one of Roberts' dreaded DDT's.
Turning our attention to Matilda, what fun it was to watch Matilda attempt to bite opposing wrestlers and managers, all while Gorilla Monsoon is in a near frenzy trying to call the match in the ring and the action outside the ring. Lest we forget that Bobby Heenan actually walked to the ring in full padding as if he was the test dummy at a police canine academy just to avoid the wrath of Matilda.
There are very few managers left in the wrestling business today. Currently, it seems as if these roles are designated to the divas who act more as a wrestler's girlfriend than manager, and all they do is parade around the ring in a tight-fitting dress that helps pull a few viewers in for a below-average match. At least Miss Elizabeth seemed interested in the match that Savage was in.
Mr. Fuji always seemed to be plotting his next move, whether it was hitting someone with his cane or slipping his guy a "foreign object." As a wrestling fan, you knew that it was only a matter of time when the manager got involved in the match and took it to another level of lies and deception.
Bobby Heenan was a jack of all trades. Not only was he a fantastic announcer, but he frequently provided his managerial services to those wrestlers that needed an extra edge to their bouts. All fans knew that Heenan was going to dictate the outcome of the match in some form or fashion, and "the Weasel" never let us down.
Managers were an important part of the match, and their return to the squared circle is long overdue.