|The Changing World of Pro Wrestling
By Jim Lancaster
The world of profssional Wrestling is no different than anything else in the world.Things are constantly changing.
Many veteran fans remember the first boom in wrestling.With the advent of television in the 1950's,every TV network in the nation was broadcasting pro wrestling.Names rising to the top included Gorgeous George,Nature Boy Buddy Rogers and Lou Thez.
As wrestling evolved into the 60's such names as the Sheik,Bobo Brazil,Dick the Bruiser,Wilber Snyder,Ernie Ladd,Chief White Owl,Haystacks Calhoun and Wild Bull Curry began to be top stars.Later on,in the 70's fans may remember The Mighty Igor,Killer Brooks,The Fabulous Kangaroos,The Stomper,Ben Justice,Luis Martinez and Flying Fred Curry.
Many years ago when TV wrestling changed from black and white to color,ring wear also became more colorful.The persona a wrestler would take varied from gentlemen to unleased beasts.A wrestler's charisma was often judged by his ability to interview at ringside.
When I started wrestling in 1972,the Ohio-Michigan territory was owned and operated by Sheik Ed Farhat.I broke in through Lou Klein's Gym in Allen Park,Mich.,just days after graduating high school.I had watched many of the stars I was now wrestling from my ringside seat at Hara Arena in my hometown of Dayton,Ohio.
Regional territories ruled the wrestling business at the time.The aspect of cable TV was less than a dream at this point.A guy by the name of Vince McMahon,owner of the World Wrestling Federation,would embrace that idea years later and revolutionize what we see today.
Early in my career I wrestled in territories based in Texas,Florida,Georgia,the Carolinas,Indianapolis,Nashville,Kansas City and Alabama.I also made appearances in such cities as St.Louis,Minneapolis,Philadelphia,Pittsburgh and Chicago.
I faced most of the top stars of the era.The names include Hulk Hogan,Ric Flair,Dusty Rhodes,Andre the Giant,Lou Thesz,The Sheik and Bobo Brazil plus hundereds more.
It was when I decided to settle in West Central Ohio did I open Midwest Championship Wrestling in 1982.We brought matches to various towns as fund raisers for non-profit organizations.Our banner hung in such towns as St. Marys,Sidney,Lima,Kenton,Marysville,Findlay,Celina,London,Ottoville and many others
I trained Al Snow,who has gone on to star with every top promotion in the nation.I also trained Carl Ben Patrick,who formed The Flying Tigers with Larry Wilson,gaining regional acclaim.
It was during these early years of MCW,that Vince McMahon first syndicated his WWF wrestling show creating the national phenomenon known as Hulk Hogan.It rewrote the future of the game.
As many old time territorial promoters were grounded in traditional ways,McMahon took full advantage of a fledgling cable TV.His wrestling programs came top rated shows for the networks.The territorial system became history in a few short years.
The evolution of the WWF,now known as the WWE,has created a new sense of what fans expect from wrestling performers.While the physical aspect of wrestling has grown more demanding than the old days,so have the things that surround it.
Superstars drinking beer and graphically displaying hand gestures towards authority figures on TV are cheered by youngsters watching the show.I hope no young lady watching TV today someday hopes she can become one of the scantily clad ringside women used to keep males interseted.
Parents need to take a close look at what their childern are watching when it comes to wrestling.Parents are ultimately responsible for their children.
After taking 20 years of a physical toll in the ring,my brother Rick Lancaster,and I retired on the same day following a tag match on Aug,9,1992,in Jackson Center Ohio.
Currently,I'm a free lance writer,wrestling historian and Christian testimonial public speaker.My wife and I also participate in prison ministry programs.
It wasn't until after I quit wrestling and closed my promotion,that I found the Lord in my life.I attended a walk to Emmaus weekend and my life changed forever.I encourage you to make such a commitment and not wait as long in life that I did.
May God truly bless you forever and ever!