I find it funny that a class on pro wrestling made me an Andy Kaufman fan. And that being an Andy Kaufman fan seems to be helping me become a wrestling fan. Sort of. Because on the whole, while Kaufman was at the heart of that great wrestling story line, he was wrestling in a pre Vince Jr bubble. Vince's bottom line is entertainment, Kaufman's – reality. We've talked a bit about how Kaufman's overlapping careers gave his wrestling persona credibility. And have seen similar results with Hulk Hogan, who's 'shameless' self promotion and movies have given Hogan life in a non-wrestling context. I argue that both these men possess an captivating authenticity derived primarily from cross-media success, which is contrary to Vince's apparent desire for control. He can build a circus within the tents of arena's and television cameras, but without the carnie code where's the magic?
The code wrestlers protected for so long, that we laugh at now, served the same purpose as Kaufman continually pushing the envelope. If you never really know one way or the other, you can still believe in Santa Claus. The word 'carnie' also came up often in “Drawing Heat.” The Wildman's ragtag band may not have kept tight lips, but then they didn't need to – hitting small towns once or twice a year, audiences never had time to notice discrepancies or question their own faith.
I really liked watching the old wrestling tapes. Even the boring ones. Gorgeous George is hilarious. Andre the Giant? He's just... larger than life. The newer stuff I still like not so much. Sorry I keep saying that. I can see points where I could start to be pulled in. But it's too hard for me to suspend disbelief. Or maybe it's that I don't see quite enough for me to believe in once I'm done with the suspending. Except Lawler and Blassie? OMG awesome. It's admittedly problematic that I lack good test cases for first exposure in ring or out, but there still seems to be something about certain people who yeah, are 'great wrestlers,' but are simultaneously not of the wrestling world but rather exist somewhere between the wrestling community and everything else.