When I was growing up the only sport that I liked to watch was wrestling. I grew up watching “NWA” Championship Wrestling Of Florida and at the time, I did not know it was fake. It all seemed real to me along with all the blood and story lines to follow, I was hooked. My father turned me onto it; he used to watch it as a kid growing up and knew some of the older wrestlers that were soon to be fading away because of their age. Some of these guys are still associated with wrestling today and still wrestling.
I watched wrestling for a number of years, but this era was to me the best. I am sure it was because of the close bond they all shared as I look back on it and discovered these guys were all friends behind the scene. I started actually going to see the matches live at the “Eddie Graham Sports Stadium” and this is when my passion for wrestling grew even stronger. I was actually seeing the guys that I watched when I was young; wrestle right in front of me, there was the blood, sweat and tears. This was going on every single Sunday night. This was huge, seeing the real live matches, from the barb wire matches to the cowbell match to the cage match. This was not like watching it on T.V., this was the real deal and sometimes these guys would get into the audience watching them and fight.
I later discovered that they would all meet at the local bar down the road from the stadium and hang out; this is when I discovered the bond they all shared when the show was over. I also started seeing how fake wrestling was from a broader spectrum. Even though this guys were face to face in matches beyond belief when the lights when out, they shared beers with one another. I did not care if it was fake, it is a highly physical sport and not every person could handle performing to this caliber every single night.
I had many favorite wrestlers from this era; my favorite was the “American Dream” Dusty Rhodes. But as time grew and new wrestlers emerged, it changed, but Dusty was still my all time favorite. He had something about him that just made him stand out. He had this jive smack talk they would just make you laugh and his moves were just the same way. He was for sure a, bleeder. Almost every match he was in, there was blood. But he was electrifying in that ring; he made you want to watch him.
Here is a short list of wrestlers that were loved and hated. Kevin Sullivan, Abdullah The Butcher, Blackjack Mulligan, Kendo Nagasaki, The Road Warriors, Harley Race, Ric Flair, Barry Windham, Superstar Billy Graham, Chief Wahoo McDaniel, Bugsy McGraw, Ronnie Garvin, The Freebirds, Outlaw Ron Bass, Arn and Ole Anderson, The Assassin, Brusier Brody, Billy Jack, Scott Mcgee, Magnum T.A.,Terry and Dory Funk Jr, Sweet Brown Sugar, Don Muraco, The Super Destroyer, Dick Slater, Rocky Johnson, Ernie Ladd, Thunderbolt Paterson, Black Bart, Midnight Rider, Yellowdog and The Sheik . The wrestling commentator was Gordon Solie.
Thinking back to those days of wrestling and how wrapped up as a kid in their world is amazing. My friends and I followed every wrestler along with each story line; we would even square on in my front yard against one another and use our water hose squared off as the ring. What a great memory.