JG's Columns JG's Ten Untrue Things Your Grandmother Believes About Wrestling
By James Guttman
Jan 20, 2011 - 9:39 AM
They say that wrestling isn't for everyone. In many cases, your grandma is one of those ones. That doesn't mean that she doesn't know things about it. In fact, she knows lots of things about it. Are all those things true? Probably not. Are most of them true? Again, probably not. Either way, she tries, God love her. But when the subject of pro wrestling comes up, granny usually has plenty to say. Like what? Like...
"They Use Goat's Blood."
Nope. They don't use Goat's Blood. Instead, they use their own blood and it's pretty friggin' disgusting.
I'm not sure how this "goat's blood" thing even came about. What type of sick world do they envision where goats are being lead into a slaughterhouse all for the sake of making matches look real? Also, what type of people would smear goat's blood on their faces? I know that cutting your own head with a blade seems sadomasochistic, but smearing your face in the life force of a dead animal seems downright psychotic. Two greased up guys in a ring smearing blood on their bodies? I picture one of them laughing maniacally and screaming, "I AM THE GOAT KING!"
Also, we regularly see the cuts when there is blood. When was the last time you remember seeing a match where there was just blood? Poof. Magic, magic, ho, ho, ho - blood. No. You see a cut. You see blood pouring out. Unless Granny thinks Kurt Angle got a blood transfusion from a goat, I don't get that at all.
I would imagine there are countless examples of past promoters trying different ways to make blood in the ring but cutting yourself is the way it goes today. No ketchup. No blood capsules. No magic bags of fake blood sent down by the juice fairy. Just straight up people's blood.
The funny thing about goat's blood in wrestling is that there's nothing online about it. However, it comes up a lot. I've even had guests quote this erroneous belief as an example of non-fan knowledge in ClubWWI interviews. But no signs of it on the Google. There must be a secret Grandma Underground that we're not tapped into.
On a side note, I did find an article that claimed a drug made from Goat's Blood was used to help battle Multiple Sclerosis. Now why would you want to waste that by rubbing it on your head?
"They close the curtain."
This one blew my mind as a kid. Growing up, my grandmother had a friend named Rita who was pretty hardcore. She was the type of lady I was glad wasn't my grandmother because she seemed like she'd lock me in a closet or something.
Anyway, it was 1987 and The Honky Tonk Man had just smashed Jake Roberts in the head with his guitar on the Snake Pit. I was watching the show at my grandmother's house and Rita was over visiting. I ran into the kitchen after it ended and told them about what happened.
Buzzkill Rita replied, "Oh, that's all fake."
I maintained that it wasn't. Honky Tonk really hit Roberts in the head. To which she replied, "They probably closed the curtain."
"The curtain?" I asked.
She comes back with, "Yes. He swung the guitar and they closed the curtain."
I sat there for a second, contemplating what this woman had just said and answered the only way I could imagine.
"How stupid do you think I am?"
That was it. Close the curtain. I've heard it more than once and it's just mindblowingly insane. Can you imagine what these people think wrestling must look like? Just an entire match with curtains closing and opening. All night long - open, close, open, close. They would probably think the show has so much talking now just so the curtain guy can take a break.
Everything is called "WrestleMania".
Best marketing ever? WrestleMania. Know why? Because Grandma calls everything wrestling-related WrestleMania.
Pay-Per-Views are all called WrestleMania. House shows are called WrestleMania. When you watch Raw, it's called WrestleMania. Smackdown is called WrestleMania. TNA Impact is called WrestleMania. When you watch old tapes, it's called WrestleMania. When you and your friends throw fake punches at each other in the backyard, it's called WrestleMania. If John Cena is on Live with Regis and Kelly, it's called WrestleMania. If you run into a wrestler on the street and get his autograph, it's called WrestleMania. Your action figures are called WrestleMania. Your WWF Ice Cream Bars are called WrestleMania. The company is called WrestleMania.
It's all WrestleMania.
"When I was young, the girls didn't wrestle..."
Oh yes they did. Now maybe Grandma just forgot. That happens sometimes. Grandma also forgets to put on the parking break, which is why there are so many dents in her garage door.
Female wrestling is as old as men's wrestling. Sprouting up right alongside them in the carnival days, women grapplers were even more popular than their male counterparts. In fact, early on, the female wrestling was moved to its own section of the carnival and gentlemen from the audience would step up to face the women on-on-one. It had a different allure to guys in the crowd. You know the old adage. Boy meets girl. Boy lusts girl. Boy eagerly steps up to get his ass kicked by girl.
Female wrestling has been going on for generations. When I interviewed Mae Young - a living example of this fact - she was able to tell me stories about everyone from Vince McMahon to Ed "Strangler" Lewis. You can rewind the clock to any generation and find women wrestling. Whether it's Lelani Kai in the 80s, Moolah in the 60s, or Mildred Burke in the 40s, there have always been strong female stars tossing other strong female stars around.
One final piece of proof? Watch this video. It dates back to - wait for it - 1905 and shows that, "Oh, yes, Granny. When you were young, the girls most certainly did wrestle..."
"No one gets hurt."
This is the most ironic of all the thoughts that grannies (and non-fans) have. The reason? It's the exact opposite. Everyone gets hurt.
Match outcomes may be predetermined, but the laws of physics don't cease to exist in a wrestling ring. Forget the powerbombs. Forget the flaming tables. A simple bump is enough to do the trick. Imagine taking your finger and tapping the side of it against a table. Don't do it hard enough to do any damage. Just a firm tap. Now do it over and over again for 15 years. At the end, see if you can type as fast as you once did. Probably not.
The bottom line is that even the seemingly easiest hits can do long term damage. Many of wrestling's televised injuries have happened thanks to movements that you have to rewind on your DVR just to see. Triple H's quad injury while delivering his own move. Kevin Nash stepping through the ropes and buckling under the knee pain of a misplaced step. Sid Vicious snapping his leg like a twig. These all happened for the simple reason that wrestlers, above all else, are taking part in full contact physical activity activity under hot lights with another person they know won't drop them. The chances of injury far outweigh the chances of escaping in one piece.
Ask Grandma how she broke her hip. Getting in the car? Exactly.
What always amazed me is that the folks who think professional wrestlers never get injured must think they're the greatest magicians in the world. Throwing your body 20 feet over the top rope onto two inch thick mats can be done in a way that doesn't hurt? How? How about the sheer danger involved in lifting another sweaty human being upside down? Grandma doesn't know probability? Sure, all might go okay - minus the minor strain on your body that eventually adds up - but doesn't she know that there are lots of times it won't? If not, then why does she tell you to stop putting your little brother in the swinging Full Nelson? Doesn't she know no one gets hurt when they do pro wrestling? It's magic, after all.
"My friend's grandson is a wrestler."
One of the best perks that come from running a wrestling website is that I get to find out how many people have friends who lie to them. I tell people what it is I do and then usually get things like this:
"Yo. My cousin is a wrestler."
"Yeah? What's his name?"
"OK. I don't know him."
"No? He was in WWF. He beat the Undertaker for a belt."
"No. No he didn't."
"Nah. He did. At Nassau Coliseum, I think."
"YOUR COUSIN'S A LIAR! WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE?!"
This happens a lot. In fact, in all my life, having heard countless claims like this, I've only had it be true in two cases - a girl I knew who was related to Marc Mero and a guy who worked out with Zack Ryder. Other than that - a whole buncha Gravediggers.
Chances are Grandma plays Mahjong with Murielle. Murielle's grandson is a famous wrestler - so she believes. Sure, you can yell in Grandma's face that Murielle's grandson is probably homeless and insane, but what good would that do? Really. Yelling in Grandma's face? For shame.
"The ring is a trampoline."
Do you know what a wrestling match would look like if the mats were trampolines? It'd be like how they faked those Moon Landings tapes. People bouncing around and throwing slow motion punches ten feet in the air - it would be nuts.
No. Ring mats suck. There is nothing bouncy about it. In fact, it's like throwing yourself on the floor of a small rowboat. You might rock a bit, but you ultimately hit a pretty rigid piece of wood, covered by a small canvas, and that's it. Depending on the place you're working, the canvas can either be small or extremely small.
Here. This is what a ring looks like without the canvas:
Yikes. Like the rickety deck grandma had drunken Uncle Ralph build back in '94. Now here it is with that huge trampoline-like canvas.
Now it looks like Ralph's deck with a bed sheet on it.
Need more proof? Think it's different in the big leagues? Well look no further than Nexus. Last year, the group attacked the WWE wrestling ring and exposed its innards for all to see. Pay careful attention to the huge amount of space between the wood and ring.
Yeah. No trampolines in wrestling. Although a bouncy castle would be fun...
"Ed McMahon owned The WWF."
I always talked about an angle I had for TNA. It would have brought them everything they wanted - WWE response, mainstream publicity, big surprises. An angle that involves a woman named "Jennifer McMahon" showing up on pay-per-view and claiming her father, "Mr. McMahon", would soon join her. WWE would threaten lawsuits. Internet fans would claim it would be a midget in a wig. Everyone would be in a tizzy over such horrible case of false advertising...
...until the show where Ed McMahon shows up. He would address the crowd and say that if you took a survey of the people in this country of who they think of when they hear "Mr. McMahon", they'd name him nine times out of ten. You could then have him do pre-taped videos to air over the next few weeks playing into his daughter's storyline as she leads "The McMahon Army" into TNA. There was a lot more to it. Ed, who had been hit by financial troubles, would have jumped at J-Woww/Pac Man money from TNA. It would have been amazing.
Then, Ed McMahon died.
End of storyline. In Ed's absence, there is no one left who people think of when they hear the "McMahon" name. In fact, Linda is neck-in-neck with Vince over who is the most recognizable now. That's it. Game over. Vince and Linda are now the McMahons and "Jim McMahon" from the 85 Bears is a ludicrously distant third.
During his day, Ed McMahon was one of the most well-known people in the country. From The Tonight Show to TV's Bloopers and Practical Jokes with Dick Clark to Publisher's Clearing House, McMahon was an institution. So when people from Grandma's day heard "McMahon", they assumed it was Ed. The guy was all over the place. Why not wrestling?
I don't know why. He never did. It makes me sad too. If any celebrity should have crossed over for an angle, it should have been the other famous McMahon. It just makes sense.
"They're all on steroids."
It's funny that a story so many feel needs to "get out there more" is one of the most well known among non-fans - especially granny. Since the late 80s/early 90s, the steroid cat has been out of its workout bag. The whole world knew about what was going on. It's been out there.
Today, the in-your-face bodies that lead to that belief is not as much as it was during its heyday and the debate can rage on. But since the scandal of the early 90s, fans have become keenly aware of the upswings. Spurts have happened when suddenly guys ballooned into He-Man figures. Whether it was a steroid or something else, it was something. Ever since the Chris Benoit murders, though, it seems to have toned down.
Also, your grandmother might mention that Chris Benoit murdered his family because he was on steroids. She'll say that Nancy Grace said it. You can tell her that point has been debunked. You can explain that it doesn't make as much logical sense as any of the other hundred reasons he could have done it. But she'll just tell you to stop being disrespectful to your elders or else you won't get a quarter. So best to just roll with it.
"The Title Matches are real."
We've all heard it before from a few non-fans. Some matches are worked shows, but some - usually title matches - are real. That's the thought. And...well, that would be pretty stupid, right?
What would that look like? 90% of the card would be flipping and top rope jumping while the title matches involved endless punches to the face? Also, how would a worked system of regular matches lead itself to finding someone who could face the Champion in a shoot fight? It's like determining the finals for The Ultimate Fighter by holding a singing competition.
This mindset is also famous for being the transitional one that many kids make from thinking wrestling is a shoot to a work. It's that last thing you hold on to before taking that plunge - like when you find out that Mommy and Daddy sometimes "help Santa Claus get presents ahead of time." Sad day indeed.
No, it's all part of the show. Title matches on down - all the same deal. That doesn't take away from what it is, though. When I was a kid and started to accept the reality of what wrestling was, it was rough. But that brings with it a whole new respect for what wrestling is. You see the big picture and understand how it all plays together in order to give you a good show. Hopefully you emerge with a new respect for what you've been watching all along.