Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Thoughts on Drawing Heat

After reading Jim Freedman's Drawing Heat, I have a better understanding of the reality of wrestling. It made me look past the large-scale, glamorous WWE performances and into small traveling wrestling shows.

It seems like the wrestling performances were much more primitive. I didn't realize that such small performances existed. It seemed more like a circus act in the way they promoted and traveled from city to city. The wrestlers and promoters, like Wildman, were just trying to survive. They had a pretty stable fan-base and knew that they could make a living wrestling. How well they lived, however, depended on how much they put in to making their shows successful.

In Drawing Heat, Freedman recalls Wildman complaining about Verne Gagne keeping him out of Winnipeg and how he could never compete with his show. I found this funny because we learned about the territories in wrestling during the 1950's-80's not too long ago. The way that Verne didn't give Wildman a chance reminded me of Vince Jr. not giving Verne and all the other promoters a chance. Their stories always ended with the big guy, Vince Jr and the WWE, coming in and overtaking the territorial promotions.

The piece really emphasized how important the fans are. They are just as much of the performance as the wrestlers. Without the loyal fan-base, wrestling wouldn't be able to survive. The title of the piece, Drawing Heat, refers to the fans and how the purpose of every wrestler is to draw some kind of response and interest from the audience. Ultimately, the more the wrestler shows his love to wrestle and perform, the more heat will be drawn from fans.


Sam Ford said...

Ismael, it seems that you have gotten some valuable insight from Freedman's book, which is what I had hoped for. I think it's a gem as a snapshot of a particular era in wrestling history. Yet, these little spot shows are still out there, and there are still the stars of yesteryear traveling on these shows. The Wildman is wrestling stripped of its glamour, but it still draws. That's what, to me, gets to the heart of what attracts people to wrestling, when shows like the Wildman's continues to draw. And your irony about Verne being the big guy pressuring the little guy and later complaining about being pressured by an even bigger guy is ironic in the way that it echoes what happens to Vince himself in relation to Ted Turner, as we'll talk about in the coming weeks.

BigAssSuperstar said...

I read Drawing Heat back in the 1980s and ended up working with one of the characters, Whipper Watson Jr., on a small promotion ... IMHO, it's the best wrestling book I've read to date. I'm proud to have one of the Wildman's wrestling posters in my closet ... and to have wrestled in his old ring. He eipitomized the spirit of the 'sport'.

Sam Ford said...

Agreed. There's nothing that can rival it in my opinion. You don't have to know or care about wrestling to enjoy the book, but it remains true to what wrestling was at that level in that era.