Monday, February 28, 2005

Who Are Those Masked Men?

They carried Super Porky away on a stretcher.

That's the first sentence of a very funny story in the Washington Post about "Lucha Libre," a professional wrestling spectacle that is very popular in Mexico. Here's a link to the article:

I have a professional wrestling story, believe it or not.

Pro wrestling is basically a soap opera for men. And not-quite-men.

When I was seven, and ESPN didn't exist, Saturday Night Wrestling came on at 10:30 on Saturdays. Remember, this was in the era of one or two college football games on Saturday, so as a sports-crazed kid, wrestling counted as "real sports." Or almost real, anyway, which was close enough.

Wrestling was less outrageous and less caricatured back then, although it was still silly. I was only seven, though, so when evil Johnny Valentine won a match through some kind of illegal maneuver, I was outraged. I used to wrestle on the bed with my Winnie-the-Pooh doll (it was about 15" high). Mom's bed, because I could use the headboard as a turnbuckle. Mom had to resew Pooh's stuffing about fifty times. She'd upbrade me for knocking the stuffing out of Pooh again, and I would say, outraged, "Mom! I was WRESTLING!"


My favorite wrestler was Ivan Putski, a Polish wrester (supposedly) who was a complete goofball. He used to eat hot dogs in the ring before the match. He just always seemed like he was having a good time.

Anyway, there were a few wrestlers from Mexico (I grew up in South Texas, remember), but the most important was Mil Mascaras, which was translated as "man of a thousand masks." He was very mysterious, obviously, and in the good guy/bad guy pantheon, was the purest of the pure. So I saw this article today and marveled that over thirty-five years later, the masked men are still around.

I'm not sure what happened to my Pooh doll, though.

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