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SCOTT OSTLER

Wrestling Has Gone Hollywood and It's Ruining the Sport

March 11, 1985|SCOTT OSTLER

When I see what's happening to professional wrestling these days, I could lose my lunch.

Also, when the ref has his back turned, I could discreetly take this foreign object out of my pocket and gouge the eyebrows of all these Hollywood stars and other jerks who have "discovered" wrestling.

They are making a mockery of the sport.

The state of the wrestling is like the state of a recent match at Madison Square Garden. At one point, the combatants in the ring included several wrestlers, their managers, a dozen uniformed cops and a few rock stars. Here's the live TV account:

Announcer (distraught): "What happened to our match!?"

Expert Analyst (aghast): "We don't have a match anymore! It's pandemonium!"

Announcer (anguished): "Oh, no!!"

Oh, yes.

We don't have a sport anymore, it's a fad.

I've been hearing about this so-called wrestling revival. All it is is a bunch of yuppies and sissies and Hollywood jerks jumping on the bandwagon, for laughs.

Cyndi Lauper is into wrestling now. So are Mr. T, Andy Warhol, Dudley Moore, O.J. Simpson, Danny DeVito, Dan Aykroyd, Gloria Steinem . . .

What do they know about wrestling? Nothing! A flying knee-drop to their Adams' apples.

Look, I'm not here to brag, but I know the sport. I know what makes it beautiful and special.

The rules, for instance. Like:

--"Hitting below the belt or with a large folding chair is strictly permitted."

--"Hitting after the bell is illegal, unless you didn't hear it."

--"A wrestler detected using an illegal hold or foreign object on his opponent must cease by the referee's count of five. Failure to do so will result in a stern warning, reprimand or a new five-count."

The new fans don't understand the officials, either. They complain when the ref gets distracted and doesn't see a foul being committed.

The new fans don't realize these refs are actually college deans and corporation presidents, who got where they are today by looking the other way.

The new fans also don't understand the real wrestlers. All they see are a few plastic, made-for-TV superstars such as Hulk (Don't Call Me Ben) Hogan.

Real wrestlers are athletes such as The Assassin, a gentlemen I interviewed a few years ago. I never published the interview, because The Assassin answered most of my questions by saying, "I refuse to indulge that information."

The Assassin showed up for the interview wearing slacks, a sport coat and his hood. He said he wore the hood at all times, even while driving. I asked if the cops hassled him when he drove around town in his rubber, two-tone Assassin's hood.

"It never happened," he said. "If they stop me, I have a logical explanation. They can check my record. I have an ID proving I'm The Assassin. I'm sure they'd understand to the fullest."

The night before, The Assassin had lost a controversial decision to Victor, the Wrestling Bear.

"I feel I was cheated," The Assassin confided to me. "I had the bear down, but the ref wouldn't count him out. I had him down ! Sure, the bear's tough, but I'm tough, too."

Was The Assassin bitter?

"You get in the ring with a 750-pound bear, you know you got him pinned, it upsets you a little."

Sure. And I'll tell you what else upsets me. The new fans, that's what. Later this month, Rowdy Roddy Piper and Hulk Hogan have a big match in New York, and I have a hunch these Hollywood types are going to ruin the event. I can see it now . . .

Announcer: "Gloria Steinem has just climbed into the ring and is hitting Piper with a purse that appears to be filled with lead weights!"

Expert Analyst: "Fortunately, O.J. Simpson is about to smash Steinem over the head with a folding chair . . . "

Announcer: "Wait. There's someone standing on the turnbuckle, about to pounce on O.J. It looks like . . . "

E.A.: "It is! It's Woody Allen!"

Announcer: "Where's the referee!"

E.A.: "I almost forgot. I'm the referee!"

And it won't stop there. Professional tennis is moving into wrestling's territory. Martina Navratilova and Pam Shriver have challenged Vitas Gerulaitis and Bobby Riggs to a doubles match.

The winning team will probably be challenged to a World Champion doubles match by famed grapplers Sergeant Slaughter and Junkyard Dog (not his real name).

Imagine . . .

Announcer: "The court has been enclosed with barbed wire, and the net has been taken down."

Expert Analyst: "The winners today will receive $100 million, while the losers must leave town on the next one-day flight of the Space Shuttle."

Announcer: "Let's just hope nobody loses their cool."

E.A.: "Junkyard Dog scores with a solid forehand to Martina's forehead! She's bleeding profusely! The referee is busy warning a courtside fan about crinkling his popcorn sack during play."

Announcer: "Somebody is parachuting down onto the court to assist Martina. . . . It looks like Cyndi Lauper!"

E.A.: "We don't have a match anymore, it's pandemonium!"

It's sure not wrestling.

I could cry.

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