The dinosaurs aren’t extinct.
They’re alive and spewing venom on old-school wrestling pages.
“There’s been no good wrestling since the territories” is a wearisome myth that’s been perpetuated for 30-plus years ad nauseum by angry old men raging against change.
I’ve been watching wrestling for 50 years now, discovering that UHF dial in 1972 and have attended for 48, so I’m no spring chicken myself, as the cliche goes. And, yes, the greatest wrestling I EVER saw was Crockett’s NWA in the 80s with the magnificent 4 Horsemen on top and The Midnight Express putting on the greatest tag team matches I was EVER blessed to see. Teams such as Rock and Roll Express, The Koloffs, Fantastics, Road Warriors, Ric Rude & Manny Fernandez were no slouches either. Then there was Dusty and Jimmy Valiant and Superstar Graham and Luger and Magnum and so on down the line. From top to bottom, those cards were LOADED. And great.
But here’s the catch. Do you know what the second greatest wrestling I EVER saw live was? Brace yourselves, dinosaurs. Ring of Honor of the ’00s. Yes, adjust the pacemakers. Nigel McGuiness vs. Bryan Danielson was the Flair-Steamboat, Jack Brisco-Dory Funk Jr. of THEIR time. They were beautiful wrestling clinics each, and every night they came out. They WRESTLED their butts off. And it was (gasp!) post territories.
And just last week, Claudio Castagnoli and Konosuke Takeshita put on a four-star plus classic on AEW TV where they, um, wrestled. You old-timers probably would have loved it had you not turned off the TV sets in 1989. And don’t even start with the whiny “But they’re ALL just spot monkeys” because the boys were WRESTLING. Man, did they ever wrestle. And I hate to tell you, they were performing moves a lot of your heroes couldn’t have imagined.
Now I loathe 90% of what the circus-like WWE puts out like the rest of you, but even they have the potential TODAY to put on a classic like the Cody Rhodes-Seth Rollins trilogy. And I rank the NJPW Okada-Omega series among the all-time great matches.
So to make an utterly absurd statement like “There’s been NO good wrestling since the territories” or to rage that wrestling “DIED” with the territories makes you into just another living in the past stereotype, no different from the raging grandpas doing the lame “There’s been NO good music since the Beatles.”
I beg to differ. As do my brilliant indie musician friends. And the indie wrestlers honing their craft. And the greats out there WRESTLING their butts off and sacrificing their bodies to entertain you. Well, maybe not YOU anymore, but us.
Pop Nakamura vs. AJ Styles at Wrestle Kingdom into your VCR, for an eye-opening masterpiece, Gramps.
So rage on, fellows. Your fellow dinosaurs will listen and nod in agreement.
And tell those dang kids to “get off the lawn” while you’re at it.
For as much as I, too, was weaned on the great WWWF, Florida, and L.A. TV (How do you spell wrestling? T-O-L-O-S!) and so on down the line, wrestling simply didn’t die with the territories. It’s alive and well, and if you pick and choose, you, too, could find something to savor and enjoy.
But you won’t. And that’s sad.
This and That:
“Kings of the Ring” is a fictional dramatization of the 80’s wrestling scene, in and OUT of the ring, told as a NOVEL and Audio Drama Podcast with music, sound effects, and a full cast of characters!
Evan Ginzburg is the Senior Editor for Pro Wrestling Stories and a contributing writer since 2017. He’s a published author and was an Associate Producer on the Oscar-nominated movie “The Wrestler” and acclaimed wrestling documentary “350 Days.” He is a 30-plus-year film, radio, and TV veteran and a voice-over actor on the radio drama Kings of the Ring. He can be reached on Twitter @evan_ginzburg or by e-mail at [email protected].
That “There’s Been No Good Wrestling Since The Territories” Nonsense
The dinosaurs aren’t extinct.