FEEDBACK: The Wrestler (1974)

On the next edition of Rewind-A-Wai, we are reviewing the film ‘The Wrestler’ from 1974 starring Verne Gagne Billy Robinson and Ed Asner.

This pick was selected by our Espresso Executive Producer @holzhammer.

The review will be released on Tuesday, February 18th.

Promoting the world of professional wrestling at the expense of the plot itself, Frank Bass (Ed Asner) takes a stand and defends what he thinks is right. Gamblers, mobsters, unscrupulous wrestlers, money-grubbing promoters, and fixers conspire to corrupt the industry, but Frank tries to make the game as honest and fair as it is his idealized vision. Frank’s efforts climax as he promotes an over-the-hill champion in the final matches of his career.

Miles from Chicago

Looking forward to hearing your review on this movie. I watched this after one of my other favorite podcasts, The Lapsed Fan, covered this in an extensive AWA series they did a few years back.

An interesting movie - very cool to see Vince McMahon Sr. and pre-Hard Times Dusty Rhodes making an appearance but cannot deny how egocentric Verne comes across as he presents “Mike Bullard” as not only god’s gift to wrestling but someone who is universally praised and loved by all. You can tell he really buys into his own hype and while I expect nothing less from a pro wrestler - it’s fairly gratuitous in this movie almost to the point of parody.

Hard to give a rating as if this weren’t a wrestling movie I likely wouldn’t have watched it but from a wrestling historian standpoint - I feel it’s a great peak into an era of wrestling I didn’t grow up in.

A bit of a lengthy story to follow but since there’s no other feedback yet - I feel compelled to share. Seeing Dick The Bruiser in this movie makes me laugh and I’ll share an old family story as to why.

The year is 1975 and my dad (who has zero respect for wrestling) and some friends have opted to see the wrestling event being put on by the town high school auditorium in Glen Ellyn, IL (about 45 minutes from Chicago). The main event pits Dick The Bruiser against some townie jobber and as the main event unfolds my dad, always the “comedian”, has taken it upon himself to start heckling the wrestlers. Cries of “It’s fake!” & and “This shit is fuckin’ fake” ring out from my dad and mid-match Dick The Bruiser looks to the bleachers, points at my dad and says “You. come here” and points to the ring. My dad showboats to the crowd as he makes his grand entrance - likely soaking in the fact that he just showed up this carny at his own game.

Dick asks “so you think this is all fuckin’ fake?” to which my dad nods in agreement. “I’m going to put you in a sleeper hold but am going to warn you one time not to move - got it?” My dad agrees and is locked in the hold…but shortly after my dad gets in the hold…my dad shoots on Dick and tries to break free. Dick proceeds to cinch the sleeper in tighter and knocks out my dad for according to him “what felt like hours.” He woke up seconds later and returned to his seat - with no memory of how he fell asleep or how long he had been out for.

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