the grunt

then: 0-1
now: 86-40, so far




Three people were waiting at a stop on 38th Street yesterday. Two of them were older women, the third a younger man.

One of the women was first on the bus. She leaned in close to me and half-whispered, "The lady on the bench isn't riding the bus!"

I screamed, "Not if I have anything to say about it!" and jumped off the bus, grabbed that lady sitting on the bench by her arm and dragged her on the bus. I threw her into a seat and took off. Now she was riding the bus, dammit!

Or maybe I just kind of said OK or something...

A woman got on with her two daughters. They sat behind me and discussed the girls' day at school. Much of the time, they talked about a spelling (or some kind of word) test that one of them took.

The mother had some kind of Caribbean accent, I'd say medium-heavy. The little girl had me in stitches because she kept telling her mother that she was saying the wrong word.

"No, not sheep! Ship!" And the mother would say one or the other, and they really did sound very similar. Eventually the mom gave up and moved on. And lest I sound like an insensitive clod, mom was laughing, too...

Two Roosevelt High wrestlers got on and sat in the back. A few stops later, a South High wrestler got on. He sat in the middle somewhere. I'm not sure if he noticed the Roosevelt guys right away or not.

I got on the PA and suggested a tournament to see who would be the Bus 528 Wrestling Champion. I mentioned that my dad used to be a wrestling coach and that I probably remembered enough that I could be the referee.

Once again, my passengers were not nearly as amused as I was.

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the baron

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.

The Grunt

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.

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