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MATBURNS

by Robin Young

It's been quite a long time since I've enjoyed a live wrestling card. As a matter of fact, it's been twenty-seven years! Pedro "I've been training especial for thees match" Morales was the headliner. It was a typically great MSG card. Solid from start to finish. "Handsome" Jimmy Valiant, Dick "Bulldog" Brower, Manny Soto, "Tarzan" Tyler, "Crazy" Luke Graham, "Gorilla" Monsoon, and last but certainly least, Referee Dick Whorle. My heart pounded, my vocal chords were lightly sautéed, and my palms did a fine imitation of steak tar-tar, after which, I went home. It was swell.

Then onwards and upwards: college, advertising, competitive bodybuilding, beautiful girlfriends, car accidents, and subway fires. The usual. And a solemn vow to never follow wrestling again. At least not until I turned 40 and started to feel nostalgic. Well, I turned 40 a couple of years ago, and boy do I miss BRUNO, BRUNO, BRUNO!!! I grew up with Mr. Sammartino and Mr. Blassie and Mr. Mascaras and Mr. Tolos and Mr. Stevens and Mr. Gagne and Mr. Bockwinkle and Mr. Kowalski. You know what you can do with Mr. McMahon. And his stupid looking scion (that's son to you, Keller). What a sad state of affairs! No faces, no heels, no jobbers, no star quality, no excitement, no ring psychology, and no booking. Aside from that, wrestling is alive and well. But not in the "big two" (or three, if you happen to be a fan of ECW--God save the Queen!)

Where then you ask? (Go ahead, ask). In the "indys." That's where. For a couple of years now, Evan has tried unsuccessfully to convince me to attend a local show run by a promoter who actually cares about including some actual wrestling on his cards! Being an old grouch, I resisted at first. Then Evan sweetened the pot. He informed me that a star from my early fan days would be making an appearance, for the purpose of signing autographs. Who was the legend in question? The great hirsute, bald-pated turnbuckle bulimic (he chews, but he doesn't swallow!) George "The Animal" Steele.

The mere thought of seeing that lovely green tongue again, brought a tear to my eye (the left one!) and a rosy glow to my cheeks (the ones I'm sitting on as I write this!)

So, with a woman friend and her two sons in tow, I headed for the wilds of Queens. My destination was the infamous Elks Lodge, home base for the execrable ECW, and in this case, the LIWF, run by one Bobby Lombardi, a wrestler as well as titular bossman of this excellent promotion. We arrived at eleven in the morning, and departed at eleven in the evening, when the youngest boy, age eleven, started to fade!

Prior to the evening show, was a full card comprised of students from the LIWF wrestling school. Most of the workers were kids with no more than a couple of months of training. For most, this would be their first match in front of a paying audience. They were all great. I was amazed. During the intermission, George Steele had a ball posing for Polaroids with every kid (aged 6 to 60) in the house.

The evening card got off to a rousing start with a great tag match involving erstwhile Skull Von Crush and his look-a-like partner Gold Bald vs. muscular heroes Kid USA and Mr. Puerto Rico. Von Crush was great, even my ladyfriend thought so, and she did not expect to enjoy herself at all. Her kids had a blast, and so did a very jaded "wrestling humorist," namely me. It was a wonderful all day event and everyone went home happy. Kudos to Mr. Lombardi and the LIWF and all the gut-busting athletes involved. Some of the latter deserve honorable mention, so here they are, in no particular order: Homicide, Low-Ki, Shark Attack Kid, Damian Dragon, Lucifer, War Path, Shaolin, Zombie, and Chief Tango. Next card scheduled for June 12 at the same location. Give it a try. You might be as pleasantly surprised as I was!

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