Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Wrestling on Tulsa Time

I left Denver and drove a long day to Wichita, Kansas, arriving on a rainy night and thinking about the BTK Strangler. It was kind of creepy, and it became even more so as I thought about what kind of position I put myself in when I meet a man like John (a previous post) either at home or in motel. I'm cautious to avoid spur-of-the-moment meetings, which don't happen very much anyway. I was a long, long time negotiating that match with John, and during our conversations I backed out more than once before I felt comfortable that he knew my interests and I could live--survive--with his. We take a lot of risks, I think, and although I don't wrestle primarily for the sex as some do, I can't help but wonder at the root of this drive to experience wrestling in the real world.

After a somewhat restless and stormy night, I drove on down to Tulsa, where I was to meet the Head Squeeze King. I looked forward to this match for a number of reasons, two of which are that HSQ and I are about the same size, which I always like, and that he is also into head holds (head scissors, headlocks). I had a feeling this was going to be a good one!

I arrived in the afternoon and got in touch with HSK, who is nothing like BTK, of course, and we got together and went to dinner (Mexican) first thing. We enjoyed our meals and our talk, and then we headed back to my motel for some wrestling. The room was ideal, with a large open space over which we spread padding before getting down to business.

The wrestling was a blast. HSK is fun to wrestle. He's talkative and expressive and playful. And true to my hopes, he loves to use a lot of head scissors holds. So, in addition to various other holds, particularly headlocks and body scissors, we had a head scissors fest.

HSK and I met again some years later in Nashville, where we both happened to be at the same time. Although he'd had some health issues that often come to men of a certain age, his love of wrestling and his personality in the match were undiminished.

HSK is one of very few wrestlers that I've met who is married and whose spouse knows about--even supports--the wrestling. I think HSK's case, this came about when the spouse had something that she found difficult to confess to her husband. But he was all right with it. This moment of vulnerability and gratitude between them led him to a counter-confession of his interest in wrestling. A mutual acceptance took place. An understanding that I envied as I drove out of Tulsa the next morning. I envy it still.

Wrestling II v. Tony Russo

I always enjoyed watching Wrestling II in the ring. And Tony Russo was my favorite jobber working in Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling back in the 1970s and '80s. (This particular match was part of a 1985 TBS show.) I liked Russo's look--a real fireplug, stocky and strong. He has his moments in control, of course, but he's best at making his opponents look good and really selling their holds (and his struggles) to the crowd.

If you're familiar with this blog, you know my affinity for--obsession with--the head scissors. This match has one of the best TV head scissors I've ever seen beginning at 2:12. Wrestling II locks it in tight and makes it look strong, and Russo sells it beautifully. I think what really gets me in this one is the camera work. The camera shoots from a nearly perfect angle and at just the right distance to let the wrestling fill the screen. In other words, it's not just a head trapped between legs, and it's not just legs wrapped around a head. Russo's face sells the hold as his belly breathes. Just great! Enjoy!

More writing about wrestling to come soon. Promise.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

A few days after my Indianapolis stop, I was in Sterling, Colorado, to wrestle a fellow named John. We had been in contact for a while online, but I didn’t know a lot about him. He was a good size—maybe 5’11” and maybe between 230 and 260 and maybe in his late 50s, as I am now. He’d wrestled years before, during his time in the military, and, if I’m not mistaken, he’d helped coach in one or two of the high schools in or near Sterling. So, I expected him to work me over; that is, I didn’t expect to win any falls against him.

I remember being a bit more nervous about this than other recent meetings. In our pre-match scheduling contacts, he’d repeatedly referred to our “fight” rather than to our wrestling match. I’m not a fighter, and as I’ve suggested here before, I’m not really a wrestler in any real sense either. A couple of times during our long period of communication and planning, I’d stopped contacting him because of my fear that I was possibly putting myself in a position I wouldn’t be able to handle. But he would seek me out again, and we’d pick up with planning. After a while I was able to express to him my concern about his idea of our meeting to fight. He understood and began to change his tone. Eventually he must have convinced me that his fighting language was just that—language—and that we would indeed wrestle, because here I was in Sterling, Colorado, in a phone booth (remember those?), dialing the number he’d given me.

I don’t recall if he came to meet me and led me back to his place or if he just gave me directions. Either way, I ended up at a ranch-style house on a quiet street in Sterling, and inside I found another strange setting in which to satisfy my strange attraction to wrestling.

John’s mother was, I believe, in a nearby nursing home, and he was living in her house. I stepped through the front door into the living space of an elderly woman. The couches and chairs were well stuffed; the carpet was plush and, I think, light blue. The walls held portraits of family and shelves full of knickknacks. A console piano might have stood against one wall; if one didn’t, one should have.

John led me through this living room—I remember running my hand across the back of the couch as we walked behind it—and through what had once been a wide doorway to the back yard and into a room that might have once been a back porch, now closed in as a den. Then he turned right, and we stepped into another world.

A cage of chain link fence surrounded a 10’ X 10’ wrestling mat. The gate to the interior of the circle stood open to the right. On the left, shelves on the wall were lined not with knickknacks but with pairs of wrestling shoes and wrestling boots and wrestling headgear. Singlets of various styles and colors hung on hangers hooked into the chain links on the outside of the ring. A single small window low on the outside wall lit the room.

The space was intimidating, to say the least, and also surreal, considering the front rooms that I’d passed through. John said that from time to time he hosted underground fights there. Sometimes he had trained a fighter and brought another in from somewhere in the region for a fight. Sometimes two fighters found his place and booked it as a neutral meeting space. But the space offered no room for an audience and so was all about the fight.

I’m not sure I believed him, but such a scenario was interesting to think about. Certainly I couldn’t deny the room could have hosted such an event. But now it was hosting our wrestling match.

Writing at a distance of over ten years from the event, I can’t provide much detail about the wrestling itself. Intense is the best I can do. John was a good grappler, much more formally trained in freestyle wrestling than anybody else I’ve wrestled. In spite of his commitment to fighting, he graciously agreed to wrestle my speed to light submission, which I greatly appreciated. He was still too much to handle, but between my submissions, I learned some stuff from him about amateur-style wrestling.

Eventually we finished wrestling and training and talking wrestling. We dressed and went out for a bite—Mexican, I think—at a place where the people seemed to know him well. After supper, I left him and headed for Denver.

I thought about wrestling John as I drove south and west along I-76. One thing I realized—when remembering the sound of his breathing, for example—was that he didn’t seem to have a great deal of stamina and maybe not a lot of reserve strength either. If I’d been able to avoid his pinning combinations and submission holds, neither of which I could work myself free from once he trapped me, or if I could have held out in those holds a little longer, I might have been able to wear him down and make a better showing, maybe even have gotten a submission or two from him.

I’ve lost track of John, and I don’t know if he remains among the living in Sterling or if he is with Milo of Croton in the Underworld. But I remember him and the setting in which we wrestled.

P.S. – I was supposed to have a match in Denver, with a fellow I’ll call M-CO. I called off our meeting, which I remember almost immediately regretting, as we had talked about it for a long time. I don’t remember if a conflict arose between when M-CO and I could meet and when I needed to meet other friends in the Denver area, or if I was too tired and sore in body and spirit after John finished working me over, but now, over ten years later, I still regret missing that wrestling match and not being able to remember it here. Maybe one of these days, M-CO.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Memory is hazy at a distance of ten years or so. It's entirely possible that I'm mixing up a couple of trips in what follows.

I can't recall if I did any wrestling between the summer of 2005 and that of 2006. Sometime in August 2006, however, I made a trip into the west to visit some family in South Dakota. My first stop was Indianapolis, where I had three matches over the course of an evening and a morning.

My first match was late in the afternoon with Larry again, which was fun as always. We took it easy, as he was just, I think, recovering from some surgery. But we worked each other with a few good holds. This is one of them. Larry is lots of fun to work over with a head scissors. As I recall, he got a couple of head scissors holds on me as well, which was great. He has these tree-trunk legs that pack a lot of power. A couple of times he wanted to treat me to a maneuver that required of him a lot of upper body strength, but then he would catch himself, realizing that in his current state of recovery, he wasn't ready to do that kind of move no matter how much he wanted to or how much the scenario called for it. We wrestled for an hour or so, I guess, and it took a good bit out of him.

Sometime in the course of my match with Larry, I received a call from my next opponent, whom I'll just call Red. I had been wanting to wrestle this guy for a long time. He'd lived in a couple of different places since we first made contact (wish I could remember how that first contact was made), but now he was in Indianapolis, where I had access to him. Red had a sick dog at home, but he was going to come wrestle for a little while anyway. He arrived while Larry was still there. The two of them knew each other, so Larry stayed around for a few minutes. I think Red took a couple of pictures for us, including the one posted above.

Red was older. I was in my late 40s, and I suppose he was in his late 50s or early 60s. But oh my, was he powerful! He'd done--and maybe was still doing--a good bit of weightlifting and bodybuilding, so he was terrifically strong. Best of all, however, he's one of only a couple of wrestlers I've met whose passion for the head scissors matched my own. So this was going to be fun.

Red and I exchanged a few head scissors while Larry was still there, and the big man took a couple of pictures of us. Later in our time together, I set up the camera for a brief video, in which Red worked me into a figure-four head scissors--actually I lay down right into it. I still watch that from time to time.

On a sad note, some few years after this trip to Indianapolis, I was planning another. I got in touch to set up a match with Larry--at least I think this is how it went--and learned from him that Red had passed a winter or two before. Larry had called Red, I think, to talk about some wrestling and learned from whoever answered the telephone that Red had died while out shoveling snow.

The next morning a guy I'll call Cigar showed up. I don't think that I've ever wrestled a man who looked more the heel than Cigar. He had the shaved head and beard, the black trunks and boots, a black wristband. We did some good wrestling--good holds, good contact. Near the end of our session, he was on top of me, belly to belly, and he had my arms pinned down with his weight pressed down into his hands and holding me immobile. Then, to my surprise, he turned gentle, bowing his head and kissing my chest and working his way up toward my neck.

"Stop," I said. "I can't go there."

And he did. He seemed a little put off, I'm sorry to say, but he remained nice about it. The wrestling was then over, so we dressed and he left.

I checked out, found my way to I-70 and headed west.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Destroyer vs The Spirit - (AJPW 07/25/75)

Before this match between these two big masked men devolves into a street fight, it's really hot. The hammerlocks they trade early in the match are terrific!

Friday, February 27, 2015

I'm always pleased upon those rare occasions when I find wrestling in my reading. Lately I've found it in a couple of things I've read by Salman Rushdie. Wrestling, particularly the Indian wrestler Dara Singh, shows up in Midnight's Children, and in The Satanic Verses a wrestling match takes place between a man and an angel, similar to Jacob's wrestling the angel/God in Genesis 32. Of course, in neither of Rushdie's works is the wrestling described in the detailed way we wrestling fans would like (not a head scissors in any of the passages), but that's probably better for the flow of the fictions. We have our imaginations and, having them, should use them.

I imagine that Rushdie himself would be a good wrestler. He seems built for it. I bet he'd be fun to wrestle, and I bet he knows his head scissors from his headlocks.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Here's the second part of the match between Larry and Digger. Really fun to watch.

I myself haven't done any wrestling since meeting up with a good friend back in May, but I have a few things on the horizon. My friendly opponent from May and I talked about each posting our experience in that match, but then the busy summer and fall temporarily wiped that idea off the table. Maybe we should think about that again.

He also gave me a story of a match he had back in the spring, I believe, so I'll check with him to be sure I can post it.

This blog has been inactive for too long, and I hope to remedy that in 2015.