Wrestling still big on TV, but not what it used to be

Richard G. Carter | 10/12/2012, 4:17 p.m.
"Everybody needs somebody else who can make them feel ashamed of themselves..."--Jack Oakie, "The Rat...
Colony Records was my place for original Black R&B

The '70s brought new names but few equaled Gorgeous George, Iron Mike Mazurki, Ed "Strangler" Lewis, "Argentina" Rocca, Killer Kowalski, Maurice "The French Angel" Tillet, Mighty Atlas, Bruno Sammartino, Gorilla Monsoon, Billy Goelz and Gypsy Joe, and midget grapplers such as Sky Low Low, Fuzzy Cupid and Diamond Lil. Then along came Haystacks Calhoun, Magnificent Muraco, Dick the Bruiser, Bulldog Brower, Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka, Bob Backlund, "Superstar" Billy Graham, George "The Animal" Steele, Ivan Putski, Cowboy Bob Orton, Dusty Rhodes and Andre the Giant.

And there were well-known lady wrestlers such as Fabulous Moolah, Judy Grable, Awesome Kong, Mildred Burke and Wendi Richter. They were followed by the likes of Trish Stratus, Chyna--the muscularly zaftig female billed as the "Eighth Wonder of the World"--and Sable (Rena Merow). The latter two posed nude in Playboy magazine.

However, none had anywhere near the exposure of today's Stacy Keibler, the leggy girlfriend of actor George Clooney, or Torrie Wilson, reportedly the main squeeze of baseball's Alex Rodriguez. These gals not only are beautiful but are very athletic.

So whether or not McMahon can get his WWE channel going, the tube has made household names out of many grapplers, managers and TV hosts. Here's some of them:

Hulk Hogan, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, Big Show, Kane, Undertaker, the interracial Dudley Boyz, Test, Val Venus, Christian, Edge, Kurt Angle, Mick Foley, William Regal, Goldberg, "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, Randy "Macho Man" Savage, Marcus Bagwell, Kevin Nash, Shawn Michaels, Scott Hall, Triple H, Sgt. Slaughter, Bret Hart, Ric Flair, Sting, Lex Luger, Ultimate Warrior, "Ravishing" Rick Rude, Randy Orton, Hardcore Holley, Chris Jericho, Great Kahli, Eric Bischoff, Paul Bearer, Jerry "The King" Lawler, "Mean" Gene Okerlund, J.R. Ross and Jesse "The Body" Ventura--who was elected governor of Minnesota.

But TV wrestling isn't all good. There's stage blood, sexual suggestiveness (the "ho" parade), lewd gestures, racial stereotyping, bashing with aluminum garbage cans and metal folding chairs, steel cages, crashing onto wooden tables, body-slamming against walls, ramming people with cars and setting fire to motorcycles, ad infinitum. Yet, TV is about high ratings--the stock-in-trade of pro wrestling. And that's the name of that tune.