I was first really taken aback by the notion of family in the wrestling world when we saw the little person that Mae and Moolah had sort of adopted in Lipstick and Dynamite. The adoptive, wrestling family was a huge theme in Drawing Heat as well. The relationship of Dave and Robbie is one that seems to be repeated over and over in wrestling-- the promoter/ booker taking in the downtrodden, punky kid and making something of them while also providing them with a sense of family: "He (Robbie) was a pain in the ass. He had been that way ever since the day he came to Dave as a young kid, poor and without a job, and Dave took him in and looked out for him even though he was a bad kid." (101) The relationships the Freedman sets up and develops during Drawing Heat are very much like those of a dysfunctional family-- all the squabbles and the sense of being stuck with eachother, for better or worse.
Freedman, the outsider, is more than an observer, he seems to become part of the dysfunctional family as well, taking a sort of in-law role of being tied in but not quite entangled in the nucleus of the familial structure. In this one-foot-in/ one-foot-out role of writer, he gives us a counterpoint image to the wrestling tour family when he speaks of 'real' family, and especially when he introduces us to the Tolos home: "Their home was authentic, made charming and warm by the undiluted sentimentality of immigrants securing each other's past and future... I told Evangelina how comfortable I felt in a house where there was a close family." (110)
The image of the true family, in a home, connected to past and present, is a relief after the raucous, unsettled description of the wrestling family, where things are more dynamic, more subject to change, more character-reliant. The wrestlers have pasts and futures with eachother, but most of the content of that history and their ties to eachother is character-driven and and least partly fictional all the time. The recurrent blurring of the wrestler and his wrestling persona must plays out not just onthe individual level, but as Freedman describes, also in their interpersonal relationships when out of the ring and the arena.