This morning my son and I were hard at work in the kitchen taking Tupperware bowls out of their designated drawer and tossing them about the room, this is a favorite pastime of his, in fact there’s a new YouTube video posted showing him doing just that. I got to thinking this morning how much fun he and I are going to have as he gets older, there are tons of fun things to do today that just weren’t around when I was a kiddo, but that’s not to say that all of them are better. I can remember growing up that Saturday mornings meant one thing in our household, Championship Wrestling. It came on at 11am and ran for an entire hour and a half every Saturday morning. To say that our house was the only one tuned in religiously each Saturday would be a huge stretch, in fact my parents 90yr old neighbor was so hard of hearing you could stand in our driveway and hear her television from where you stood (and sometimes her yelling along with the announcers).
Championship Wrestling was hosted by Lance Russell and Dave Brown, who also was the weatherman on Channel 5, probably lending a little credibility to something that we all knew was a work, or fantasy, but very entertaining. I can remember my dad and I laying in the floor watching Jerry Lawler do battle with the likes of Jos Leduc, Austin Idol, Bill Dundee, The Assassins, Jimmy Valiant, Dutch Mantell, Tojo Yamamoto and whoever else Jimmy Hart could find to bring to town. The storylines were always good and if you weren’t careful you could easily use up all of your emotions and energy for the day in that short hour and a half and find yourself drained the rest of the day. I can remember when wrestling would occasionally come to our town, my parents always made sure that we had ringside seats. I can remember one time when Frank Morrell, aka the French Angel almost landed in our lap one time and then I saw him at the gas station later that day heading out of town.
Living in a rural area we didn’t have the advantage of having cable television so we improvised as best we could to pick up television. I can remember scanning the globe on our channel master satellite one Saturday morning when I picked up another wrestling show that came on immediately following championship wrestling out of Memphis on a television station in Greenwood, Mississippi. This new show, called Mid-South Wrestling had a totally different cast of stars, some I had seen from Memphis before but some I’d only heard of like Junkyard Dog, Ted Dibiase, Hacksaw Duggan, and Mr. Wrestling II. With the discovery of this new wrestling show in addition to the Memphis one, we now had the majority of our Saturday mornings booked for eternity. On Monday mornings when all of my buddies would show up for school all we could talk about was what happened on wrestling the following weekend. On my 12th birthday I can remember my Mom loading up a carload of my hooligan buddies and took us to a television taping of Championship Wrestling in Memphis. It was amazing…
Today wrestling isn’t the same, one company pretty much owns the entire industry and the days of regional territories like Memphis are gone for good but it’s fun to look back on those days when remembering my childhood. I know I’m not alone either, a year or so ago I attended a movie premier for a documentary called Memphis Heat that basically told the story of Memphis Wrestling back in the day. It was an amazing film that brought back a ton of memories of my dad and I laying in the floor watching Jerry Lawler poke Terry Funk in the eye w/ a metal stake. It’s a shame that my son won’t have the same appreciation for wrestling that I did as a kid because it’s just not the same anymore.. not even worth our time as to where we used to hang onto every minute of championship wrestling’s broadcast back in the day!
I blogged about the Memphis Heat movie a while back, you can find that post here…Google+