Re: stupid flamewar

Tim Byars (
Thu, 22 Apr 1999 09:12:01 -0700

At 11:56 AM -0400 4/22/99, Kragen Sitaker did the job with this:

> You wrote:
>> L. If you're going to step into the squared circle you're going to have
>> to do better than that. To be the man, you have to beat the man.
> He did. I wish you'd drop the subject. I'm beginning to see why
> everybody unsubscribed to FoRK a couple of months ago after the last
> big flamewar; my mailbox ends up stuffed with stupid crap like this.

Busy yourself and read a book.

The 'Idiot's Guide' To Pro Wrestling Sells
By John Phillips

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Bert Sugar would be the first to agree that the title
of his new book ``The Complete Idiot's Guide to Pro Wrestling'' may be

But he's giggling while running all the way to the bank to stash the money
he's making from the book, which he says sold more than 75,000 copies in its
first two months and is in its second printing.

Sugar, uncharacteristically shy about how much he's earning, also tops the
list of those surprised by the success of the Guide, which he says has
out-sold by far any of the more than 50 books he has churned out in the last
30 years.

Why is it doing so well?

``Wrestling is so outlandish. In our corporatized world we're told what to
do all the time, but through this stuff we can break out and take pleasure
in the make believe world and actually be a part of it,'' says Sugar.

A former lawyer and advertising man turned first-rate writing opportunist,
Sugar edits a boxing magazine and is a columnist for several
general-interest publications. He also appears on more television sports
shows than do highlight reels.

``Pro wrestling is this generation's version of that Johnny Paycheck song,
'Take This Job and Shove It.'''

When he was approached to write the book for Mcmillian publishing, which has
a long list of ``Idiot's'' Guides from computers to fly fishing, Sugar said
his first reaction was '''Huh?' and then 'How much?' I did it as a giggle.''

Despite Sugar's irreverence for his subject, the marketing forces behind
professional wrestling -- which has as much in common with traditional
wrestling as Monica Lewinsky has with Mary Poppins -- are very serious.

Wrestling shows on cable television consistently rank at the top of the
pay-per-view offerings, drawing millions of people in sports' most sought
after 18-34-year-old demographic.

On average there is about one pay-per-view (ppv) broadcast of a wrestling
show every month, each capturing hundreds of thousands of viewers and
leading to millions of dollars a year in broadcast fees alone for the two
major wrestling groups, the World Wrestling Federation and World
Championship Wrestling.

Sugar's book also includes a concise history of the struggle for supremacy
between the two.

And there's a lot of money to fight over.

For instance, the WWF's five big shows each year average about 600,000 ppv
buys each at about $30.00 a buy, according to Scott Basilotta, of the WWF.
But March's Wrestlemania 15 drew 875,000 buys at $34.95 each, making it the
highest grossing non-boxing ppv event and eighth on the all time list,
Basilotta said.

Sugar's book, with former wrestler Captain Lou Albano as titular co-author,
is a mostly tongue-in-cheek, yet exhaustive look, complete with a glossary
of wrestling terms, at this strange netherworld of sports with its
mascaraed, tattooed and oiled, hunks of beefcake and their devoted, often
scary fans.

``Wrestling's colorful characters have changed over time to reflect changing
attitudes in society,'' Sugar writes.

Those changing attitudes helped Minnesota voters to elect former pro
wrestler Jesse ``The Body'' Ventura their governor.

``From the earliest bad guys -- mostly supercilious lords and masked
marauders -- through a long cowboy and Indian era, through the McCarthy
era's fixation with evil Commies (to today),'' Sugar writes, ``wrestling's
storylines have always suited the temper of the times.''

For example, when Germans were the bad guys, performers dubbed themselves
with Third Reich-sounding names such as Karl von Hess, Fritz von Goering and
Killer Karl Krupp. And when the Japanese would draw hateful fans, there were
The Great Togo and Tokyo Joe.

But Gorgeous George, who reigned in the 1940s and 50s as a kind of wrestling
Liberace, is the father of professional wrestling's over-the-top cult of
personality, says Sugar.

He ``changed the degree of villainy,'' Sugar writes. ``It wasn't just his
haughtiness, his evil vibes or even his underhanded tricks that made him
into the arch villain of all villains. It was his vanity -- especially his
long, bleached- blond hair (with bobby pins) that became a visual shorthand
for identifying villains.''

Sugar, unabashedly candid about the choreography of pro wrestling and its
unrelenting marketing machine and covers today's money-makers such as Sting,
Ultimo Dragon and Diamond Dallas Page.

Sugar also pays homage to Hulk Hogan, whose muscle-flexing strutting and
stomping brought the sport to ppv prominence with shows like the one in 1987
in Michigan that drew more than 90,000 fans.

Sugar dismisses the idea that young fans will be warped by the torrents of
fake carnage in a typical wrestling show.

``The younger fans know what's happening. For them it's an extension of
cartoon characters like, 'The Road Runner' and 'Wile E. Coyote.' It's many
of the older fans who think it's real.''

And for some, politically incorrect to enjoy.

Several older fans, including a lawyer and a public relations executive with
a large oil company, admit their affinity for professional wrestling, but
are reluctant to come out of the closet to declare themselves.

But 36-year-old Grant Son, president of SchoolSports, a sports media company
for high school athletes, openly admits to a penchant for wrestling.

``It's a soap opera,'' he said. ``It's good versus bad, it's betrayal and
pay-back, an extreme view of life.''

And a profitable view.


And if you don't like it, I got two words for you...


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