#1 Posted by rachelepithet (1349 posts) -

Reading the early history of the World Heavyweight Championship, it seems the contenders like Hackenschmidt, Gotch, Lewis, Zbyszko, and others were all legitimate strongmen (the kind that would be recognized by the very real Olympic weightlifting committees today) and legitimate amateur wrestlers (think Kurt Angel or Brock Lesnar today) in a world where collegiate and Olympic athletics weren't anywhere near the establishments they are today. Meaning they had to use their amateur wrestling skills "professionally." And even such carnival gimmicks as wrestling a bear, in a pre animal rights world, might, just might, have been "real". Motherfuckers wrestle alligators to this day. We know by their own admission and reason for existence, that the National Wrestling Alliance takeover over the World Heavyweight Chanmpionship, and it's subsequent breakdowns into WWF, AWA, WCW, ECW, TNA and various other titles were all scripted. Although an NWA champion is still recognized, the remaining promotions involved are minor leagues, and it's hard to claim to be the overall undisputed champion of wrestling when you only face opponents from Cherry Hill and not the WWE. With Jim Crockett's WCW (Flair) championship being a more true lineage of the title, and WWF's buyout of WCW, the WWE does... and it's fans should... consider the lineage of its present day WWE Champ and World Champ all the way back to the early 1900's. So in what year and with whom did the title and wrestling itself become scripted? Is it a snub for WWE to recognize its champions in the same breath as those who truly grappled for it? Besides outcomes, WWE talents like Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Chris Jericho, Kurt Angle, and many others over the years certainly could have won many a real catch as catch can wrestling match. It is so mysterious why legitimate athletic governing bodies, like the New York State Athletic Commission, recognized wrestling champions in the first half of the 20th century. Real pro boxing leagues sanctioned pro wrestling on the side, before the NWA. It would be amazing if the "Feds" were being misled in thinking wrestling was real all thos years, and especially if the boxing leagues organizing it did, too! But that might explain why as late as the 1990's numerous government run "athletic commissions" were threatening McMahon to come clean and tell them if wrestling was real or not. Like goddamn, did they watch Cindi Lauper wrestle ten years before?

#2 Posted by Dagbiker (6939 posts) -

I think it was the early 80's

#3 Posted by TeflonBilly (4713 posts) -

Wrestling was to a certain degree "scripted" back in the days of George Hackencshmidt, Lou Thesz Karl Gotch and Rikidōzan when you could consider it in it's infancy.

The thing is that back then it was a part of the traveling carny circuit, so they'd have scripted matches to fool the "marks" or "rubes" and then have open challenges for real wrestling matches using everything from catch as catch can, taekwondo and what would be called MMA these days to have legit fights for money. Before the glitz and glamor came around, everybody absolutely had to be a legit hardass who coul perfrom when the chips were down and under no circumstances were you toeven imply anything was scripted.. It was a hustle really. That's why so many wrestling terms still use carny language. Even the big one kayfabe, which denotes the reality that the wrestling is real in is still in full flourish.

In the US, you could say it wasn't really organized until the NWA started governing the territories, but nobody with any clout in the business would dare break kayfabe until Vince's infamous "Shades of grey" speech before an episode of Raw. And that was in the 90's! Lest you be blackballed and potentially receive bodily harm.

Hell, to a certain degree Japan and Mexico still work under those confitions. Most people "know" it's scripted, but by no means shall you even hint at it and it's taken so seriously culturally. In Mexico wrestling, or lucha libre as it's known, is a celebration of Aztec roots what with the colorful masks and such. The wrestling atheletic commicion take things like hair vs mask matches very strictly and for a wrestler who has lost his mask and then don it again without the explicit consent of both the fans and the atheletic commicion, he can very well be shot in the streets. In Japan wrestling is also to a certain degree accepted as "real" even though it's not. It's become a lot more lax over the Ought's, but with it's ties to Yakuza laundering money, several promotions simply are accepted as legitimate. Then again, these are the promotion who favor sportsmanship a lot more and have embraced many shootfighting aspects over the years before MMA really blew up. I don't think it still does, but during the 90's the big wrestling results were in the newspapers right next to the baseball results.

#4 Posted by mosespippy (4033 posts) -

I remember seeing a documentary on TV back in high school that was interviewing a wrestling historian (how is that even a job?) and he was talking about rigged matches in Russia in like, the 1800s or something. Sporting events where the outcome is determined beforehand are not a new thing and probably predate recorded history.

#5 Posted by Milkman (16527 posts) -

It's been scripted since around the 1920s.

#6 Posted by TeflonBilly (4713 posts) -

I wonder how scripted it was back when Lincoln wrestled

And yes, I'm not making it up. Lincoln was a wrestler

#7 Posted by Hailinel (23902 posts) -

@TeflonBilly said:

I wonder how scripted it was back when Lincoln wrestled

And yes, I'm not making it up. Lincoln was a wrestler

Lincoln once accepted a challenge to a duel under the condition that they fight using broadswords. On the day of the duel, the guy saw Lincoln cutting some branches with his sword and backed out because his death was pretty much assured.

Abraham Lincoln was hardcore.

#8 Posted by avidwriter (667 posts) -

The first time it was actually on TV?

#9 Posted by dungbootle (2457 posts) -

1

#10 Posted by TeflonBilly (4713 posts) -

@dungbootle said:

1

Way earlier than that, just look at how David vs Goliath was totally scripted! I mean, how come the ref didn't see David use the slingshot as a foreign object!? That wasn't a hardcore match!

#11 Posted by FiestaUnicorn (1577 posts) -

@Hailinel said:

@TeflonBilly said:

I wonder how scripted it was back when Lincoln wrestled

And yes, I'm not making it up. Lincoln was a wrestler

Lincoln once accepted a challenge to a duel under the condition that they fight using broadswords. On the day of the duel, the guy saw Lincoln cutting some branches with his sword and backed out because his death was pretty much assured.

Abraham Lincoln was hardcore.

Most people don't realize Lincoln freed the slaves with his bare hands. He also caught John Wilkes Booth after Booth shot him.

#12 Edited by TeflonBilly (4713 posts) -

Presidential dream match: Abraham Lincoln vs Teddy Roosevelt in a Hell In A Cell match

Those dudes were badass

#13 Posted by TheHBK (5463 posts) -

I took a class during my time at MIT dedicated to the history and inner workings of pro wrestling. I got to meet Mick Foley and JR. I also read lots of books on it during and after the class. Pro wrestling as we know it today actually came about around the time of Gotch and Hackenschmidt. In their time wrestling was real but you would have matches go on for an hour, two hours or even 3. But no winner. It was getting boring as these guys were getting really good since you could not really strike and getting a pin was fucking hard. So that is was led to it being scripted and the way we know wrestling today actually came about in the 1920's. Scripted matches and finishes. Even finishing moves. Ed Strangler Lewis was one of the first well known pro-wrestlers as the term is used today. It has been scripted since then, no one is really sure how much before that. The Athletic commissions actually enjoyed the secrecy because that meant wrestlers had to be sanctioned and events had to be sanctioned, meaning promoters had to pay the commissions to put on the show. Until Vince McMahon said fuck that but by then everyone knew it was scripted and the fans wanted more inside info. Hence the term Sports Entertainment is thrown out there.

#14 Posted by Fattony12000 (7050 posts) -

Still real to me, dammit.

Online
#15 Posted by NlGHTCRAWLER (1215 posts) -

@TheHBK said:

I took a class during my time at MIT dedicated to the history and inner workings of pro wrestling. I got to meet Mick Foley and JR. I also read lots of books on it during and after the class. Pro wrestling as we know it today actually came about around the time of Gotch and Hackenschmidt. In their time wrestling was real but you would have matches go on for an hour, two hours or even 3. But no winner. It was getting boring as these guys were getting really good since you could not really strike and getting a pin was fucking hard. So that is was led to it being scripted and the way we know wrestling today actually came about in the 1920's. Scripted matches and finishes. Even finishing moves. Ed Strangler Lewis was one of the first well known pro-wrestlers as the term is used today. It has been scripted since then, no one is really sure how much before that. The Athletic commissions actually enjoyed the secrecy because that meant wrestlers had to be sanctioned and events had to be sanctioned, meaning promoters had to pay the commissions to put on the show. Until Vince McMahon said fuck that but by then everyone knew it was scripted and the fans wanted more inside info. Hence the term Sports Entertainment is thrown out there.

I used to believe it was real. That's how great the Attitude Era is. Also, you are one lucky dog. Mick Foley is a boss.

#16 Posted by thomasnash (539 posts) -

http://homes.chass.utoronto.ca/~ikalmar/illustex/Barthes-wrestling.htm

This was written in the fifties, so I think we can probably say that it's been scripted to some degree for a while. I thought it was interesting that you talk about them being "legitimate" strongmen and so on. I think that the wrestlers of the WWE and what have you could probably bench a hell of a lot more than I could, and I don't doubt that there is a certain amount of technique to what they do, even if they have moved away from the sort of wrestling you get in the Olympics and what have you.

I was talking to a guy who is an amateur wrestler (in the WWE vein) recently about the article above. He was saying that he found it pretty amazing because from what he knows of the history of it, the stuff Barthes talks about were supposed to be "trade secrets" to a certain extent, that Barthes was able to discern just from watching it. I don't know how true that is, but if it is it's an interesting balance to how we look at stuff like the WWE, where I think everyone realises fairly quickly that it's total spectacle, and they don't make a huge effort to hide it.

Sorry, that was all a bit disconnected. I just thought it was a nice chance to post that Barthes essay because it's great.

#17 Posted by TeflonBilly (4713 posts) -

@thomasnash: I love that essay, but yeah, the whole "trade secrets" thing is a big deal.

It's like how illusionists and magicians aren't supposed to show what's going on behind the scenes, wrestling was very protective of keeping kayfabe (The illusion of wrestling being real) alive.

Like faces (good guys) and heels (bad guys) would be slapped with heavy fines for being seen fraternizing outside the ring by fans.

And not everybody were welcomed into the fold as it were about it being "fake" and pre-determined. Hulk Hogan famously got his leg broken by his trainer the first day to test his mettle. When he came back as soon as it was healed his training began (One of the few outrageous Hulk Hogan fibs that seems to actually be true brotherjackdude). Mick Foley's first book also has some great recountings of his days at Dominic Denucci's wrestling school and how his first televised match as a jobber went awry when Dynamite Kid decided to be his dickhead self and clothelines his jaw so hard he couldn't eat solid food for awhile.