In addition to the illusion of violence, I think the other thing that drew me into professional wrestling was the interviews of the wrestlers. Maybe that's because I have always been keen on good speakers (like preachers and politicians), and wanted to be either a preacher or a politician when I grew up. And since wrestling is designed to be entertaining, a wrestler who was "good on the stick" (excelled at the microphone) always jumped to the top of my list of favorites! And like I said last week, when my buddies and I would imitate our favorites, we not only did matches, we also did interviews.
This is probably why I always preferred the "bad guys" (heels) to the "good guys" (faces). The heels always seemed to give more entertaining interviews. And in fact, the natural evolution of a heel was to become a face because his interviews were so entertaining people would actually start to cheer for him.
Very few wrestlers gained a following simply because of their ability in the ring. Ricky "the Dragon" Steamboat is one of the few whose interview skills were mediocre, but whose athleticism was so amazing that people were drawn to him anyway. And of course, if you had the combination of great mic skills AND in-ring ability, you were set for stardom.
And of course, in order for the interview to be successful it was important to have a good announcer, the "straight man" to the performance. Gordon Solie and Lance Russell were two of the best. Here's a clip of Jerry "The King" Lawler as a heel, who had unbelievable chemistry with Lance Russel. Enjoy!
(On a sad note, legendary Florida wrestler Mike Graham passed away this week, taking his own life. Some of you who grew up on Championship Wrestling from Florida may remember that his father, Eddie Graham, also took his own life, and so did Mike's son.)