By Evan Ginzburg, Columnist
Welcome back to my stream of consciousness affair here at the distinguished Gorilla Position.
We just had the very first ever Wrestling Bookmarks Covid-Con the first weekend of May and it was an interesting affair to say the least. 60 plus wrestling journalists, authors and pro wrestling legends took 30-minute turns being interviewed by Kenny Casanova’s (WOHW Publishing) crack crew online and to say it was an eclectic mix would be an understatement. Whether it was rare memorabilia, the chronicling of a near hundred-year-old territory, or listening to legends you grew up with, there was something for everyone. With dozens of hours, there’s just too many names to list here but if you want a little taste here’s a chunk of the festivities featuring the following dignitaries of note to be seen on the link below: Hurricane Helms with Al Isaacs, Neil Pruitt, Diamond Dallas Page, Michael Holmes, Starmaker Bolin, Pat Labrade, Scott Stevens, Kenny Casanova himself, Bill Apter, Jake Shannon, Lil’ Cholo and Kevin Kleinrock, John Cosper and even Mad Man Pondo. Yours truly also puts in a half hour set. I promise you will be entertained, and you may even learn something:
Speaking of WOHW Publishers, they have books on Kamala, Tito Santana, Vader, Sabu, Brutus Beefcake, Danny Davis as well as a ton of other eclectic works. Support independent everything including wrestling book publishing.
After just watching the Owen Hart episode of Dark Side of the Ring, the words that come to mind are powerful, poignant, tragic, and devastating. Dark Side of the Ring has the Herculean task of telling detailed stories in 44 or so minute mini-documentaries and for the most part I’m impressed with their efforts; this Hart episode was as powerful a “sports film” as I have EVER seen. Like any show, some episodes will be stronger than others, but please, wrestling fanatics, do not judge someone’s Art by, “I knew most of that from my shoot interviews.” Understand when you make a film or TV show you are appealing to a mass audience. The average person walking down the street would likely say, “Hey, I used to watch wrestling. I remember the Road Warriors. I didn’t know one of them died.” Not everybody is consumed by wrestling; some folk have just plain moved on. And if amateur film and TV critics judge a quality series like this solely on a bombardment of information, and don’t even acknowledge being touched or moved by it, they might want to stick to their shoot videos.
And speaking of feelings- or lack thereof- for the folk attacking Martha Hart online because she does not want to put Owen Hart in the WWE Hall of Fame, wrap your head around this. They dropped her then 34-year-old husband and father of her then small children needlessly to his death. They callously continued the show in a blood-soaked ring. If this just doesn’t register with you then you’re not hearing what you sound like to more emotionally evolved folk.
While on the unfortunate subject of wrestling related tragedies, I must acknowledge Shad Gaspard of Cryme Tyme who was found dead after a riptide pulled him away from his son while swimming. I crossed paths with Cryme Tyme at a handful of wrestling conventions and always found them to be approachable, gracious, fan friendly and fun-loving. Frankly, it’s rare in this often-cutthroat business to have individuals that “nobody has a bad word about,” but they would both fit that description. To have this happen to a 39-year-old father and husband in Gaspard is utterly tragic and everyone in the wrestling community is mourning his loss. So yes, unfortunately this week’s Wrestling- Then & Now column is focused on twenty or so year apart twin tragedies.
On a more upbeat note, yours truly along with West Coast based indie heel manager Buddy Sotello have started a unique show, Wrestling & Everything Coast to Coast where we have hour long interviews with unsung heroes of the wrestling industry who have logged in thousands of hours and miles passionately involved in the business. They may not be household names, but these authors, journalists, promoters, website gurus, pour their hearts out. It’s a different side of the business. Plus, there’s zero meaningless Raw, Smackdown or Pay Per Views reviews that the other shows seem to thrive on. Check us out on You Tube and soon on all major platforms. And here’s a taste of the show with guest Pete Bregman from Wrestlemojis; he’s a noted Artist, video game creator, Ad Man, and talks horror films, wrestling, Godzilla, Hammer Horror, Graphic Novels and much, much more. Click on the link here:
I haven’t watched wrestling on TV in nearly three months. The sad spectacle of the empty arena shows just don’t do it for me. And HBO’s John Oliver questioning the safety of those in ring during the Covid pandemic may be worth noting as well.
Check out both #350Days starring Bret Hart, Superstar Graham, and three dozen legends and Wrestling-Then & Now starring Killer Kowalski & Nikolai Volkoff both free on Amazon Prime. 350 Days is also available free on Tubi. You can check out the new 350 Days trailer here:
That should about do it this go ’round. Stay safe and healthy, everyone. Catch you soon.
Evan Ginzburg is a contributor for The Gorilla Position. He was an Associate Producer on the movie The Wrestler and 350 Days starring Bret Hart and Superstar Billy Graham. He is a 30-year film, radio and TV veteran. Check out his Evan Ginzburg’s Old School Wrestling Memories page on Facebook. He can be reached on Twitter @evan_ginzburg or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.