Professional wrestling has ceased to be a sport, and is now classified with the circus and other like attractions. The outstanding contestants are more interested in barnstorming and acquiring the coin of the realm than bothering with real competition for the so-called honor of a championship.
John V. Clinnen, President, National Boxing Association
TORONTO DAILY STAR, January 9, 1931
Unfortunately, the crowds of today -- who are accustomed to seeing rough-and- tumble acrobatic feats wrongly called wrestling -- failed to appreciate the fine work of the grapplers and hissed and booed. Apparently they don't want wrestling.
THE RING, February 1933
The Ontario Athletic Commission now officially admits that it knows what everyone else who could find his way about without a dog and cane knew three years ago -- that these rousing affairs have always been just exhibitions of rough and tumble mat acrobatics, with enough wrestling thrown in to give them an excuse for billing these jousts as wrestling bouts. The public has long known that it is all just a good night's entertainment.
Lou Marsh, TORONTO DAILY STAR, February 3, 1933
Wrestling fans are becoming disgusted with the phoney endings to the matches they've witnessed in the past months. Such tactics are slowly destroying the sport and promoters should come to such realization. They fail to realize that the public has been wised up to those abuses and makes itself conspicuous by remaining at home. It's rather hard to believe that promoters could be so dumb.
Tex Austin, THE RING, July 1933
Regardless of any pre-arrangement, there can be no kick by the fans because they know what to expect and get what they come to see -- good entertainment. That's all wrestling is nowadays. Legitimate competition is gone. The days of real, honest-to- goodness wrestling matches are things of the past and we all might just as well get accustomed to the other type because it is the only kind we can see in these days of commercialized sport.
Edward Merrill, THE RING, October 1934
Wrestling may be largely acrobatics, but even those who pay to see it insist that the champion know a flying mare from a flying trapeze.
Galesburg Daily Register-Mail, December 3, 1935
Over 1,500 wrestlers, managers, referees, and announcers of the past are paid tribute on the Deceased Wrestlers List. Also includes full necrologies from recent years.
Toronto Wrestling History features a small but growing collection of stories and newspaper clips about Toronto wrestling through the 20th century.
Be sure to visit the
Canadian Pro Wrestling
Page of Fame. It profiles Canada's top wrestlers of the past and present, including Whipper Watson, Yvon Robert, Gene Kiniski, Killer Kowalski, Bret Hart, and more.
Some other useful Web sites for pro wrestling history:
- J Michael Kenyon's Wrestling As We Liked It (WAWLI) archive is a compilation of newspaper and magazine articles about wrestling from the golden age to the present.
- Mark Nulty's Wrestling Classics has a collection of photos online and an assortment of video tapes from the past. It also has a message board with regular posters who can answer just about any question you might have on wrestling history. The Lou Thesz board may be of particular interest for historical topics.
- Graham Cawthon's History of WWWF/WWF/WWE includes results from throughout the history of the promotion, going back to 1963.
- Scott Teal's 1wrestlinglegends.com contains some material from his newsletter, Whatever Happened to ...?, which is the best source of new information about old wrestlers. The Web site will give you a taste of what you'll find in the newsletter.
- The Pioneers of Professional Wrestling message board on Karl Stern's DragonKing Wrestling site is devoted to professional wrestling before 1930.
- FLORIDA: Barry Rose's CWF Archives has an amazing collection of programs and clippings from Florida between 1963 and 1987.
- MID-ATLANTIC: Dick Bourne & David Chappell's Mid-Atlantic Gateway covers Mid-Atlantic Wrestling from 1974-1986 with tons of photos and results. See also Steve Hall's Wrestling Memories.
- BUFFALO/PITTSBURGH/CLEVELAND: Steve Johnson & Greg Mosorjak's Steel Belt Wrestling covers three cities whose histories intermingled in the 1970s.
- TORONTO: Along with my Toronto Wrestling History, you should also check out Andrew Calvert's Maple Leaf Wrestling Pictorial.
- QUEBEC: Claude Leduc's History
of Pro Wrestling in Quebec looks at wrestling in Montreal and across Quebec from the 1940s to the present.
- GEORGIA: Rich Tate's Georgia Wrestling History covers action in that state through the decades (site went on hiatus at the beginning of 2006).
- SAN FRANCISCO: Viktor Berry's Illustrated History of Pro Wrestling in Northern California features photos and stories on wrestling in the San Francisco area.
- OKLAHOMA: Greg Warren's Tri-State Memories looks at Leroy McGuirk's Oklahoma-based promotion.
- KANSAS CITY: Central States Wrestling is devoted to the Kansas City/St. Joseph territory with information from the 1950s through the 1980s.
- PHILADELPHIA: David Frederick's The History of Philadelphia Wrestling has information about wrestling in that city going back to the 1920s.
- Vern May's Canadian Wrestling Results Archive has many thousands of results from across Canada, ranging from the beginning of the 20th century to the present.
- Online World Of Wrestling includes photos and brief profiles on hundreds of wrestlers.
- The Cauliflower Alley Club has information on wrestlers of the past.
- Several notable former wrestlers have Web sites:
- Percival A. Friend's The Way It Was has dozens of stories on wrestling greats.
- Evan Ginzburg's Wrestling Then & Now is another print newsletter, dedicated to wrestling nostalgia.
- Jason Campbell's
Supercards & Tournaments is now on the Web. This site lists all major pro wrestling cards in their entirety and provides the full bracketing for championship tournaments.
- Kevin Buchanan's Archives has some interesting screen captures of WWF events of the 1980s, among other things.
Wrestling today is an entertainment. The matmen perform like acrobats -- not to show their skill but to make the spectators laugh and shout as the grapplers kick, punch, pull, slap, bite, and go through all kinds of stunts -- anything but wrestle.
The promoter cannot and should not be blamed for that condition. He has his money invested and he gives the fans what they want to see. But just as long as wrestling in its present form arouses the fans' interest, pleases them, holds their attention, why worry whether wrestling is on the level or just a lot of hokum.
Nat Fleischer, THE RING, March 1938
The first of the wrestling freaks appeared in 1936 in the person of Ali Baba. Then came the blimps, the hillbillies, and the angels. The introduction of these freaks caused the end of wrestling as it used to be. It paid off to the promoters but it ruined the sport in the opinion of the sporting public.
Stanley Weston, THE RING, March 1947
A New Hampshire legislative committee Thursday classified professional wrestling as "vaudeville" rather than a sport. A bill abolishing state supervsision over wrestling received unanimous approval after Chairman Howard Northridge of the State Athletic Commission said: "All wrestling bouts are fixed and everyone knows it. For that reason we cannot throw out all bouts in which we know there is collusion because then there would be no wrestling bouts."
ASSOCIATED PRESS, April 11, 1947
Today, the headlock is a lost art. It provides little action and therefore
doesn't fit into the present pattern of the sport. The people who attend matches nowadays roar their disapproval when the excitement slackens off for even a few moments.
Stanley Weston, THE RING, July 1951
Whereas this once was recognized as a sport it now is sheer entertainment for a certain clientele and it has been helped tremendously by televison although there is a thought held by some of the promoters that the TV shows have swung too far to the ridiculous.
Ernest Mehl, KANSAS CITY STAR, January 22, 1952