16 May 2016

My 1999 coverage of minor-league pro wrasslin' in Oxford

I was a contributing writer to Oxford Town from 1997 to 1999. That's the Oxford Eagle's free, weekly entertainment supplement, sort of a cross between the Memphis Flyer and the Commercial Appeal's GoMemphis. 
My editors included Rob Robertson, Jamie & Kelly Kornegay, Jimmy Thomas and others.
While they would publish just about anything I felt like writing, my most rewarding experiences were typical arts/entertainment/leisure assignments that somebody was going to have to write.

Pro Tip: The end of this post includes a glossary of pro wrestling terms.

Are You Ready to Rummbulllll?
Loudmouthed Wrestling Manager Issues Challenge to Ole Miss Sororities

Professional wrestling makes its defiant return to Oxford Friday night as the Dallas-based International Wrestling Federation stages several championship matches at the National Guard Armory on University Avenue.

“We want to see all the wrestling fans in the area come out,” said Mr. Sensational, manager of the controversial Sensational Stable, “including all our fans on your Sorority Row!”

Bell time for the first match is 7:30 p.m. The promoter of the match said that, “we don’t set tables on fire or throw people off balconies, but there’s still going to be some real exciting matches Friday night.”

“Real exciting” is a huge understatement considering the championship belts at stake on the card. The main event pits the 6’7” Storm against Bad Wolf for the World Heavyweight Title. Incredibly enough, the World Tag Team Title will also be decided during the same event. The Sunset Riders and 100% Sexy (both of which are bad guy or “heel” teams) will put the “two wrongs don’t make a right” proverb to the ultimate, violent test.

Additionally, Wraith and “Mr. Muscle Brian So Fine,” neither of whom you want to take home to meet Mom, will battle for the “Hardcore Title,” a fight which usually results in face-prints on metal garbage cans. Hardcore wrestling is an offshoot of mainstream professional wrestling that employs blunt instruments, long hair, goth sensibilities, and a number of rather rude comments.

Kenny Valiant is coming down from Memphis to defend his Southern Heavyweight Title against a mystery opponent from parts unknown. Valiant is famous for showing up at regional events like this escorted by a motorcycle gang—and don’t park any foreign-made bikes next to theirs!

Capping off the evening will be a Battle Royal involving all the evening’s participants. If you’re unfamiliar with professional wrestling terms, a Battle Royal is something like a King of the Hill contest, where the last wrestler left in the ring (standing or not) wins. Front row fans are encouraged to brace themselves for falling wrestlers.

Some proceeds from this event will go to The Oxford National Guard Family Support Group. Tickets are $7 for adults, $5 for children aged 6-10, and children under 5 get in for free (keep them away from Mr. Muscle Brian So Fine!)

Abridged Glossary of Professional Wrestling Terms

From bad guy wrestler, Gemini’s, homepage “The Orion Professional Wrestling Resource Directory”

Note: Some of these definitions imply that professional wrestling is somehow “staged”; however, these allegations are undoubtedly groundless. In my opinion, this Gemini fellow is looking for an asswhuppin’.

ANGLE. A created fued or grudge. Planned by promoters and managers it usually involves a series of matches.
BLOW UP. To become exhausted early in the match. Ultimate Warrior was said to "Blow Up" on the entrance ramp.

CARD. A single wrestling event and the matches that are a part of it.

DO THE JOB. Losing to another wrestler.

DUD. Wrestling matches are often rated on a five star scale. A "dud" is the second worst rating a match can get and is often an insult to fans who paid to see it. Especially true if the particular "dud" was hyped beyond belief.

FACE. Derived from the word "babyface". Although they are supposed to be the good guy they can often be disliked by the fans due to their devotion to the rules.

FEUD. An "angle" constructed as a scheduled matches between wrestlers who have a problem with each other. Often good vs. evil but sometimes not.

FINISH. The series of moves that bring a close to the match. Many wrestlers often use the same setup and "finish" for a majority of their matches.

GETTING HEAT. The art of drawing boos. A good rulebreaker can "get over" with the fans by being evil enough to get "heat". Also applied to matches. If a match is being booed and cheered with good enthusiasm it is "getting heat".

GETTING OVER. Connecting with and being accepted by the crowd. A wrestler with a good persona and good charisma can "get over" easily with the crowd.

HEEL. The bad guy. Usually defiant of the rules, they are often the thorn in the side of the “face.”

HOT TAG. A tag team practice in which a distracted referee doesn't see a "face" tag and therefore nullifies it. Later in desperation the "face" makes a "hot tag" and his partner proceeds to clean house.

KAYFABE. An old carnival term. Refers to a private language often used to communicate between two wrestlers to pass information without the public catching on.

KILL. The loss of enthusiasm for a match or wrestler, usually the after effect of too much hype.

RUN IN. When wrestlers or managers that aren't scheduled to be in a match interfere.

SAVE. A "run in" after the match is over. Usually to "save" a wrestler.

SELL. To make an opponents moves look real and painful.

SHOOT. A match that is legit. Usually when wrestlers stop working together.

TURN. Changing from a "heel" to a "face".

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