NOTE: This Blog entry originally appeared in December 2011
Anyone who’s ever tussled with brothers and sisters in the backyard will recognize the fun in professional wrestling. Wrestlers are athletes, performing skilled maneuvers and crazy stunts. True, the outcome of the matches is sometimes known beforehand, and there’s a heavy dose of showmanship, but the bruises are real. Before professional wrestling only meant the WWE, there were regional territories across the country. In Memphis, it was anything goes, and that attitude drew a huge and loyal fanbase, spurred on by Sputnick Monroe, Jerry “The King” Lawler, and many others. Lawler’s most famous opponent was Andy Kaufman, who came to town to wrestle women and ended up in the hospital after Lawler entered the ring.
The documentary Memphis Heat: The True Story of Memphis Wrasslin’ tells the story of Memphis’ colorful history on the mat.
And across the river, a retired wrestler, “Nightmare” Ken Wayne, trained a new generation of grapplers, with an emphasis on old-school tactics. Producer Geoffrey Redick recorded the sounds there, but was too much of a chicken to get in the ring and go a few rounds.