Pulling punches

Back when the National Wrestling Alliance first formed in 1948, wrestling was much more real than it is today. It wasn't, you know, real, but it wasn't as ridiculous as it is now. Modern-day wrestling is more like a soap opera for guys, complete with scripted fights, family feuds, ridiculous premises, and surprise guest stars. Take for example an upcoming pay-per-view match being hawked by the folks over at Ted Turner's World Championship Wrestling: Hollywood Hulk Hogan and Dennis Rodman vs. Diamond Dallas Page and Karl Malone. That's right, not one, but two professional basketball players will step into the squared circle and make a mockery of their true athletic careers. We hope the money was worth it, Karl.

It's not the first time that professional athletes have soiled their professional reputations by stepping into the ring, and it probably won't be the last (although we would really like to think that it is). Gambits like that are necessary in modern-day wrestling, because nowadays it's all about ratings. Since Ted Turner bought WCW in the early '90s, he's been battling Vince McMahon's World Wrestling Federation for viewers, with each side plotting publicity stunts so absurd (the loser of an upcoming WWF world-title match will set himself on fire) that the actual wrestling part of the "sport" has taken a back seat to, well, whatever all that other crap is.

Some of Turner and McMahon's absurdity has filtered into the lower-profile wrestling organizations like the NWA, but, for the most part, they have stayed pretty true to wrestling's past. The fights are still scripted--you wouldn't want someone to get hurt, would you?--and there are still comical feuds, but the action in the ring recalls a time when there was actually a debate as to whether or not wrestling was real. It seems funny to think about now, but there were (and are) some people who believed that you could get cracked in the face full-on with a metal chair and not get seriously injured. We can remember a time when Iceman King Parsons--one of the wrestlers scheduled to compete at the NWA's 50th Anniversary Show on Friday--had his head "set on fire" by another wrestler, and it didn't even raise a blister or singe his hair. Only in wrestling.

--Zac Crain

The NWA's 50th Anniversary Show happens on Friday, July 10, at the Texas Indoor Speedway Arena, located at 7601 Grapevine Highway in North Richland Hills. Tickets are $5-$10. The doors open at 6:30 p.m., and matches begin at 8 p.m. Call (214) 881-2452.


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