True confession: I am a recovering pro wrestling fan.
My favorite athlete growing up was a faker, but it didn't matter. Jack Brisco was Clark Kent in tights.
That's why my hand shook as I called him the other day. I wanted to get his thoughts on World Wrestling Entertainment.
"I don't like it," he said. "I don't watch it."
Now everybody is looking at WWE after the murder-suicide of Chris Benoit and his family. They're discovering Vince McMahon's freak show isn't just harmless schlock. Wrestlers are dying at alarming rates, though nobody cared enough to get alarmed until last week.
When McMahon came to City Hall in March to announce next spring's WrestleMania 24, it was all hoorah and handshakes and jokes about Ashley the Dirty Diva's silicone anatomy. Yes, it's all fun and games until a superstar kills his wife and son and then hangs himself.
Now the Benoit story has become Natalee Holloway on steroids. Just don't say that word around McMahon. He insists steroids aren't to blame, and the media feeding frenzy is totally uncalled for.
Poor Vince. He reportedly lost $21 million as WWE stock plummeted last week. He lost a star performer. At least he hasn't lost his shame.
Of course, how do you lose what you've never had? McMahon long ago turned pro wrestling into a pimped-out joke.
Sure, rasslin' was always a charade. But if you ever saw Championship Wrestling from Florida, you know it was honorable fakery. Wrestlers actually knew how to wrestle. The women didn't all look and act like porn stars.
For a kid in the '70s, there was no better way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Gordon Solie was wrestling's Walter Cronkite.
The WWE is Paris Hilton. Paris gets ratings, of course, and McMahon has turned America's appetite for drivel into a billion-dollar business.
That doesn't mean we have to like it. Would the great Jack Brisco make it in today's rasslin' world?
"I wouldn't be employed," he laughed.
He was at his auto repair shop in Tampa. It's hard to believe the king of the Figure Four Leg Lock is 65. Brisco got into wrestling because he could wrestle, not because he could preen.
"We had a lot more real athletes with amateur backgrounds," he said.
Brisco weighed 200 pounds when he started in 1965. He hit the gym and started a diet heavy on potatoes and beer. All that, and he still never got heavier than 235 pounds.
McMahon would have looked at him and laughed. Though wrestling pre-Vince has one advantage.
"The guys in my era are still alive," Brisco said.
By one account, 55 wrestlers under the age of 45 have died since 1985. Congress would shut down the circus if that many elephants dropped. But Benoit, Rick Rude, Eddie Guerrero and all others were people, not just WWE characters.
Each death had different factors, from drug abuse to mental breakdowns. But if you believe steroids aren't rampant, you probably also believe Paris Hilton is a virgin and pro wrestling isn't fake.
Naturally, McMahon wants to move ahead and begin "the healing process." We'll know he's serious if wrestlers start looking more like Brisco than Bluto.
Don't count on that. I just feel sorry for any kid brought up watching today's wrestling, assuming their parents are irresponsible enough to let them.
I at least got to reminisce with my childhood hero.
If somebody tries to call one of McMahon's stars in 30 years, there won't be anybody around to answer the phone.
e diel, 1 korrik 2007
Jack Brisco: "The guys in my era are still alive"
Good interview of Jack Brisco in the Orlando Sentinel
Postuar nga Duane në 11:20 e pasdites