Kassie and I went to History Theatre Friday night to see The Baron. The play was excellent! It was a great way to top off my vacation. Jim Raschke played his modern self and the Baron von Raschke. Four other actors played the younger Raschke, his family, and a host of other wrestlers and miscellaneous characters.
I think I really got into wrestling when I was in 7th grade. The Baron von Raschke was nearing the end of his career. He had always been one of the bad guys, but I remember cheering for him, so I think things may have changed by then. He was my favorite.
Just about that time, Vince McMahon, Jr. purchased the WWF from his father and, against his father's wishes, began to change the way the wrestling business was run. He completely disregarded the territory system, gobbling up smaller wrestling companies and creating the huge entertainment behemoth now known as the WWE.
The Twin Cities were an AWA town. I remember when the WWF first reared its ugly head around here. My friends with cable loved it. We didn't have cable, but I bought a lot of wrestling magazines so I knew what was going on. And I watched it at my friends' houses on occasion. It really bothered me when Hulk Hogan won the WWF Championship. How, I wondered, could the Hulkster win the WWF when he could never beat Nick Bockwinkel in the AWA? What I didn't know was that when McMahon lured Hogan to the WWF from the AWA, it was probably the biggest event in the WWF's history. From that point, the fortunes of the AWA and the WWF went in completely opposite directions.
At the same time, I was getting into (post-)punk music and I was becoming very suspicious of flashy, glitzy, showy entertainment. As the AWA deteriorated and the WWF became the only option, I lost interest in wrestling.
In the play, Raschke gets a chance to give his perspective on the rise of the WWF, its destruction of the business and the steroid freaks that we call wrestlers. It clearly makes him sad and it made me kind of sad, too. As a kid, I didn't have any idea how the wrestling business was run. I just knew that I wasn't too excited about the WWF and I'm sort of surprised that there was much more to the story than I could have ever known, but twenty-five years later, my feelings regarding the subject are much the same.
The Baron runs through May 20. If you watched AWA wrestling in the '70s and '80s, you'll really enjoy it. However, Kassie recognized only a couple names along the way, but she loved it, too.