Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Shush, don't talk

In Freeman’s Drawing Heat, I found it interesting in the insight given of Frank Tunney, the promoter in Toronto for 50 years. Freeman had so much trouble getting the initial interview with Tunney, and when it finally came to pass Tunney was a brick wall. It was a code of silence of the genre of wrestling towards the reporters and outsiders in general during the renaissance of wrestling, and in many ways to this day.

Freeman refers to this secrecy or private stigma in which the promoters kept to themselves and would not entertain rogue inquires about the profession. I found this interesting and can draw parallels to our modern times. Rarely do promoters talk about the inner workings of wrestling or how they operate. It seems the only way to get the inside information is to read the books that retired wrestlers wrote. Promoters just knew that had to change the business model after the Gotch era in order to grow a fan base and increase the anger of the fans so they casted the characters, further defined heels and faces, made intricate story plots and grudge matches, and here we are--still in the dark.


Timothy S. Rich said...

The silent treatment does make sense. If Tunney gave any impression that wrestling was not a legitimate sport, this may have had ramifications (at least in his mind). I'm not sure how wrestling was governed in Toronto, but if it was regulated by a boxing and wrestling commission, acknowledging it was pre-determined may have resulted in a fine.

All that said, I find it interesting how Freedman suggests that none of this would have mattered to much of the audience.

Sam Ford said...

I particularly appreciate the juxtaposition between Tunney's concerns about breaking kayfabe and The Wildman's...and Freedman's question of exactly what would have been lost had Tunney broken kayfabe...and the lack of understanding, perhaps, as to what brought wrestling fans there in the first place. On the other hand, you can understand the Tunneys as someone, at this time period, who still had a business and a reputation that they worried about losing, whereas Wildman's renegade nature meant there was little there to risk, anyhow.

Gary said...

I also found it interesting in that The Wildman's prediction of McMahan taking over nationally, even back in those days. Tunney wanted him out of the business, even though Wildman's business model was not hurting Tunney in any way; Tunney was just being greedy-geographically and physically by taking his workers, and complaining to the "commish" about his Battle Royals, as well as TV exclusives. No way is Wildman's outlier areas with a draw of 400 fans killing Tunney.

Melissa Smith said...

As I am read more of Freedman's "Drawing Heat," I am a little surprised that Tunney made it into the book at all. I feel like the book almost could have started in chapter three when the Wildman was introduced. What do you all think was gained from adding the encounters with Tunney to the book? Apart from creating a strong image of a wrestling promoter for the Wildman to break, and the fact that the two of them were rivals in the territory, I don't (yet) see a whole lot of relevance to Tunney's existence-- at least as far as the book goes. What do you think?

Gary said...

I think that Tunney was in the book to show an example of what the typical regional promoter was and how he acted towards "poacher promoters." Freedman showed Tunney's character. He also gave balance and contrast to the character of Wildman.

Also Tunny was a thorn in the side of The Wildman throughout his career and promoting days--trying to put him out of business, so Freedman brought this out as being typical for the regions. Later in the book Freedman brings out that both the big (Tunney) and small promoters (Wildman) were both lost in the squeeze of McMahon; kind of like showing an end to an era.