One of the best memories of growing up is when we boys gathered to watch All-Star Wrestling on ABC on the weekends. I think it was on Sunday mornings but I may be mistaken on that. For an hour we'd see the so-called legends of wrestling like The Crusher, Dick the Bruiser, Mad Dog Vachon, Dr. X, Verne Gagne, Larry "Pretty Boy" Henning, my favorite Nick Bockwinkel, and the capable Scrap Iron Gadaski. It was before the time we knew what "discriminating taste" was and besides, we were guys and lapped up the "Piledriver", the "Figure 4 Leglock", "Boston Crab" and the various sleeper holds like crack. We could always use a new hold in the next intra-brother wrestling competition/massacre.
Pretty Boy Larry Henning
The weekly shows were pretty wild with the usual good guys and bad guys going against wrestlers you knew from the onset would lose. There was usually a moment in each match when something would happen that would almost convince you there was an upset in the offing, but the weary and groggy good guys or bad guys would always come back in the end and reclaim their victory.
Any resemblance to actual wrestling would be accidental. Guys were flung out of the ring, ears bitten, folding chairs slammed on people while the harried and superfluous referee would work hard at trying to look relevant. His main job was to lend credibility to a creditless exercise and not get in the way of the camera shots.
Mad Dog Vachon
I loved Mad Dog and Nick Bockwinkel. Mad Dog because of his growling, menacing post match interviews and the way he would run out of anything to grunt and walk right up to the camera lens and snarl. Nick because he was just plain classy. He used smart words and had an articulation that belonged more in a classroom than a hokey wrestling sideshow.
Announcer Marty O'Neill
The above video is hilarious. I'm sure we considered funny, too. The Crusher seems drunk and/or disoriented as to place or time. It couldn't be because of the many falls on his head - those were too well choreographed to actually incur any injury. I think it was just because he was burned out by the travel, the toll it took on his psyche, if he had one, and miles of booze in busses and cheap bars. That and a lot of giving the fans what they wanted.
It's one of the fond memories of growing up. Had I been an only child I probably would have found something else (three channels. are you kidding?) who knows. But with the three of us wondering how "Sodbuster" Kenny Jay, perpetual loser, could possibly pull this one out, it was back then must-see TV.
Poor Marj. She bought Wonder bread to help us build bodies 12 ways, and we only had one way - All-Star Wrestling.