Sharkey’s Schmazz – 3/8/09

Before this column gets underway, I want to thank everyone who has written in thus far since the debut of this section a few weeks ago. Let me repeat that I welcome your comments on any and all topics, especially if it deals with something I can interest other CAC members with in a future column. Click on the email address highlighted, and let me hear from you.

I put in a DVD of the film The Princess Bride from 1987 yesterday and watched the legendary Andre the Giant as Fezzik in a stellar performance alongside a marvelous ensemble cast. What I took away from it this time was how much the art of storytelling should be more appreciated than it is. At first, the sick child character, played by Fred Savage, is non-plussed by the prospect of his grandfather (Peter Falk) reading him a book with the same title as the film. Over the course of the film, the child gets to express angst, outrage at some of the plot twists, and disgust (mostly in the kissing scenes). In the end, however, there’s a feeling of wanting more. The investment the child made in the story and its characters, and the quality time spent with his grandfather, paid off.

Much like the genre of science fiction, where certain parameters define the motivations or sensibilities of man and machine, wrestling personalities once operated with a similar mindset. Within these boundaries, their actions had reactions from their opponents. Rivalries formed and the issues that underlied them were grounded in logical roots. Fans watched with interest, like the sick child, and their enthusiasm grew toward a feud’s conclusion. In many cases, they watched alongside a parent, a sibling, or even a grandfather. And now, years later, wrestling matches and their twists and turns may have become a bit fuzzy in memory; yet these remembrances are positive ones for not just the outcome, but for the investment made in the wrestlers, and the time spent with loved ones.

Andre the Giant is a story unto himself. Seemingly unbeatable, his size advantage was used to great effect as he globetrotted with his schedule. Territorial villains and their roughshod trail of treachery could be curbed for a while if Andre got in the way of their path. Like The Lone Ranger, Andre’s travels and fight for what was right was a series of stories that were generously shared all over the world. We know that his size was also bane as well as boon to him. We can now be more sensitive to the hazards of travel and general discomfort for people of extreme size, large and small alike. In that light, Andre’s story is told in an entirely new way.

Compelling personalities who had motivations that were easily understood, that maintained continuity from start to finish in the stories they told in the ring. I’d like to see more of them in today’s industry. And at the Cauliflower Alley Club, we are fortunate to have many of these storytellers still with us. Treat yourself to a guilty pleasure, and ask one of them to tell you a story. You’ll leave wanting more. Just as it should be.

-Jeff Sharkey

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