As I expressed in my first blog, one of the main reasons I have been turned off by modern wrestling is its failure, in my eyes, to be a legitimate sport. I've never fully understood what it takes to become a champion in the ring, and I suppose I've taken the few matches I have seen at face value in believing appearance is everything in the world of wrestling. Because our focus so far has been on the earlier eras of pro wrestling, I can't be sure of the principles that guide modern wrestling. Nevertheless, my discontent with wrestling as a sport was somewhat assuaged after reading Matysik's account of his run with promoter Sam Muchnick.
Matysik immediately makes it clear that Muchnick was one of a kind. Unlike the other promoters of his day, Muchnick seemed to have been more methodical in his booking of wrestlers, making sure to consider both their skills as competent athletes and as entertainers with drawing power. It appears that Muchnick, above all else, truly appreciated his audience. He didn't believe in cheating or fooling the audience into buying into shows that promised more than they could deliver. As Matysik relates, it was, after all, the audience that kept food on his table. Muchnick was successful mainly because he could cater to his audience's interests day in and day out, garnering their long-term loyalty.
In reading Matysik, I was able to appreciate Muchnick unique style of promoting pro wrestling. Through his well-planned repertoire of wrestling promotions and bookings, Muchnick was able to bring to the world of wrestling the sense of true competition between opponents that we find in popular American sports. It's true that the outcomes were planned and the winner and loser of a match chosen before fight night. But Muchnick could set a premise for every fight. There was always a reason for a Muchnick match, the least of which was not the pursuit of a championship title. What I especially like about the Muchnick that Matysik presents us is that he kept not individual champions at the helm of his wrestling program but the championship itself. In doing so, Muchnick breathed that competitive spirit of sport into professional wrestling.
Matysik makes me think I wasn't completely wrong about wrestling today. Titles today change hands as quickly as some wrestlers change their gimmicks. A wrestler's personality and charisma can shoot them almost to the top. It is sort of comforting to read that Muchnick demanded much more from his wrestlers. I can't be sure that Muchnick left no legacy for wrestling promotion today, but I will admit that I probably enjoy the more shoot-like spectacles of Muchnick's era.