I spent the end of last weekend spending time with my good friend and fellow wrestling fan Ludevig and we had a long discussion about various things involving the world of professional wrestling. We also watched a whole lot of the stuff from not just the US, but all over the world. Both of us stick by the belief that in order to truly understand what is good and what is bad in pro wrestling, you have to watch a little bit of everything. If you only condition yourself to one thing, how can you differentiate the good from the not so good? We explored a bunch, but two stuck out in my mind the most, and I’d like to share them with all of you in a brand new column called “What Wrestlefan Watched”. So let’s dive into some new stuff.
I’ve always been intrigued with the Japanese style of pro wrestling (puroresu) and try to get my eyeballs on as much of it as I can. It’s fast paced, highly competitive, innovative and very rooted in what wrestling should be about. This goes double for female Japanese wrestling, known as “Joshi” for those that may not know. I can’t count how many complaints I have heard about the women’s wrestling shown on TV, to the point that I feel as if it may never be taken seriously on a mass level. But, I encourage anyone sick and tired of Divas or Knockouts to watch this match featuring Ayako Hamada (Hamada from TNA) vs. Michiko Ohmukai from the now defunct ARSION promotion in Japan.
While many would agree that Hamada was extremely impressive during her time in TNA, it is obvious after watching this match that TNA never truly allowed her to reach her full potential. Like most of the Japanese style, every move or hold has a meaning and transitions from one to another are done flawlessly and thoughtfully. There is also a level of intensity in that match that tells a great story, even through the language barrier. Both women bleed profusely, more than I have seen in some men’s matches in the states, and give it all for this match. They prove this as once the match is finished; one of the attendees at ringside has to bring in a bucket in order for Hamada to vomit into. If that does not show that one has given their all in a match, then I don’t know what does. This match proves that gender is no limitation as to how to perform in a match. And while I highly doubt WWE or TNA would ever follow this direction and allow their talent to give this much, its truly inspiring to see and it is great to know that many women today try to emulate the skill and the work ethic that is shown in matches just like these.
The other style of wrestling that was intriguing to me was the British Lancaster form of wrestling. When I would hear the term “British Lancaster”, the only thing that used to pop in my mind was Johnny Saint based on the stuff he has done in America, mainly for Chikara Pro. But after watching a bunch of matches from the “World Of Sport” promotion from the earlier 80’s, I couldn’t get enough of it. For those that may have never seen it before, matches are held in 6 rounds that are 3-5 minutes long. The way to win a match is by gaining 2 pinfalls, 2 submissions or 1 knockout. With these rules in place, it adds a nice sport aspect to pro wrestling that I think many are craving now a day. But don’t think for one second that it is no longer pro wrestling. Take this match for example.
It pits “Beautiful” Bobby Barnes, an overly eccentric Gorgeous George style character, against Catweazle, something I can only describe as a homeless person in drag. Especially in this era, it was very controversial to have these over the top characters, so it is great to see a crowd in that era widely accept it. There is still a clear heel to boo, a clear face to cheer and the crowd is highly entertained throughout. Also, mainly Catweazle who tickles his way out of various holds uses a great deal of comedy in this match. In fact, Colt Cabana has been one of many that are noted for using stars like Catweazle as inspiration for this comedic style of performing. Not only that, but the wrestling is truly eye opening. Not much striking at all is done in this match, but both implement various holds, takedowns and submissions, all which mean something and implement a great deal of psychology, once again adding to the sport aspect. Other British stars such as Rollerball Rocco and Kendo Nagasaki provide the perfect mixture of in-ring skill and the entertainment that we all know and love. This show was televised for a long amount of time in Britain, until the WWF began to emerge as a superpower and stations tended to favor them due to the higher ratings. While it’s an immense shame, its great to look back on this much different form of pro wrestling and I encourage you to check it out as well.
So that’s this week’s column. Did you have fun? I hope you did. If you have any suggestions of things you would like me to watch, send it in to [email protected] and I will get to it. Because trust me, I will watch anything once.