Word Search

GoodOldDaysslaughterThey used to print the television schedule for your local stations in the newspaper.  (Let me back up for my younger readers: they used to print the news every day on thin sheets of rolled-up paper and deliver it to your doorstep.)

As a youngster, my favorite section of the newspaper — except for maybe the funny pages — was the TV listings.  This was my ticket to the wonderful world of Pro Wrestling before there was on-line streaming, before DVRs, VCRs, and even before cable feeds.  If I were home from school — especially on Saturdays when pro wrestling was most common — I would always browse the TV schedule in the newspaper searching for that one magical, arousing little 9-letter word.

When I found the Holy Grail — the word “Wrestling” in my local listings — I would memorize the time and channel.  I did not want to forget to watch it! (This was when most households had only one TV so you had to be a bit pushy and very persistent if you wanted to watch something.  Your dumb brother would rather watch some stupid crime drama or your parents might turn on the local news, uggghh.)

1970sFrequently scanning the TV listings trained my brain to find the word “Wrestling” printed anywhere on a page, no matter how small and non-descript.  The word would just pop out and reveal itself as if it had been highlighted.

To the left is a typical page of television listings from a 1970’s newspaper.  There were only 7 channels available, so it was easy to print all the shows beginning every half hour of the day.  Imagine how different life would be with only 7 channels of in-home entertainment…

Test your skill — see how long it takes you to locate the word “Wrestling”.  Click the image if you need to enlarge it (which is likely if you were watching wrestling in the 70’s.)   If you scanned the TV listings for the magic word as often as I did, it shouldn’t take you more than 10 seconds to find it.  Here is the answer if your eyes, like mine, aren’t as sharp as they used to be…

classicHdlockblowMeMy younger readers who grew up post-Internet may not realize how thirsty we felt back then, when our favorite show aired only a few times per week.  Finding that sacred word — “Wrestling” — on the TV schedule was a promise and a tease, as triggering and sexually powerful as any pornographic word or phrase.

The little word was a promise of upcoming shirtless masculinity, of exciting, gratuitous violence, campy performances, gorgeous costumes and freaky masks, flexing muscles and nasty cheating that made our humdrum lives worth living.  Finding that magic word in the newspaper made your heart skip a beat as you heard choirs of angels sing.

maiviasVonsteigersBelow is another Word Search for you to test your skills, this time from the 1980s where you see more channels coming on-line.  Pretend your neighborhood buddies had invited you to go play baseball at the old sandlot — what time would you need to be home by if you wanted to watch your favorite television show?

80sscissorEscapeHere is the answer if you are perhaps a Millenial and did not have the patience to find it.  You can see that other programs would be described in a little paragraph — a few sentences selling you on the show.  Wrestling was never given this special treatment — the editors never wrote up who was in the Main Event or what wrestling holds would be used to torture the jobbers that week.

This lack of attention sent the message that Pro Wrestling was on the fringe, a naughty or shameful freak-show that they didn’t want to draw our attention to, but would broadcast nevertheless.  This made Wrestling seem even more intriguing and appealing, a dirty secret nearly hidden in the TV listings.

piperKnucklesI preferred that they not write about wrestling as long as they kept on showing it.  I never wanted my secret obsession to become mainstream.

I didn’t want any attention brought to this underground world or else the Do-Gooders might spoil it.  I sure didn’t want anyone in my household to notice when it was televised to perhaps try to block me from watching it.  So I was perfectly happy with a one-word title — “Wrestling” — it was all I needed and hopefully nobody else even noticed it.

intenseBelow is another page of television listings for you to word search, this time from a Saturday morning in the 1990’s after cable television became available and our selection of channels exploded.  If you look closely enough, you will find that wrestling was actually televised twice on this day, representing the greater abundance we enjoyed once cable TV was invented.  Note: the second wrestling program is not listed using the word “wrestling” so it may be harder to find.  (Here is the answer if you can’t find either or both listings.)

90sfistDropSo what is my point with this walk down classic television Memory Lane?  I guess I want to reminisce about a simpler time, when pro wrestling content was extremely rare, and therefore much more desirable.

For fans of a certain age, I believe our obsession over the wealth and abundance of pro wrestling nowadays stems from the relatively impoverished conditions, when it came to wrestling, that we grew up in.  It’s like when people who survived the Great Depression become hoarders.

Gagne-AdonisAnd finally, I’m just playing: Does anyone else Remember When?    Remember when you’d tell your friends you had to be home by a certain time just so you could hide out and watch wrestling?

Remember when you’d casually tune to a channel on which pro wrestling was going to appear next so you could act as if it just happened to come on by coincidence?  Remember when you’d sit patiently listening to negative and derisive comments about wrestling from other family members, but you kept on watching your wrestling anyway because you loved it?  I sure do.




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9 Responses to Word Search

  1. MOE says:

    The town I grew up in only had 3 channels and almost no wrestling. We would occasionally get a syndicated wresting show at midnight on a Saturday for a year or so, but they never lasted. When I was a teenager my family bought a house in a ski town that got cable television and there would be 2 or 3 wrestling shows on a Saturday. During the off season, I would make an excuse to sneak away and do the 1.5 hour drive to the ski house just to watch wrestling. It was such a surprise and a thrill when my favorite wrestlers were on the show.

  2. Boston Kid says:

    Yes this is just what my childhood was like too! Best of all was if I was babysitting somewhere and had the TV to myself while wrestling was on – any hardons then did not matter….

    At Uni we had a TV room for each channel (in the UK there were only 4 channels back then) so I’d be in the ITV room at 4 on a Saturday – with few others – I wonder what was their reason to be there? Was it like mine ? Being turned on?

  3. Mark says:

    I’d give anything to have lived through some of the days of pre Vince McMahon wrestling (especially in the South) where you could follow your favorite around the region (a dollar fifty general admission, two dollars front row!) and see a Tommy Seigler for example killed by Ox Baker 4 or 5 nights out of seven. Oh time capsule take me away.

  4. Chris Yanchulis says:

    Wow…I would do the same thing!!! Especially when visiting my grandma in PA (they always had better local wrestling”…I would go through the TV listing by day to make sure I knew when I could sneak upstairs and watch a “little tv” (ha, ha). Keep up the great work (your descriptions/captions are spot on!!!!!).

  5. Aaron says:

    In today’s everything available at the touch of a button culture, I’m afraid that kids who were born after the early to mid 90s will never understand the thrill and eroticism of pro wrestling and what it represented for us – that titilating sport and show that was just good enough to be on TV but for us was really a ‘bad’ thing

  6. scott jackson says:

    One of the big let downs on a weekend was when I saw “wrestling” in print or on the upcoming TBS schedule, and it was preceeded by “Gorgeous Ladies of”— GLOW. I would still wait to watch the beginning, in the event it was a misprint and was really NWA Wrestling. Such a boner killer…haha. I didn’t have cable, so I would go to Woolworth’s at the local mall and stand in the TV aisle for an hour.

  7. admin says:

    That is a new one I’ve never heard before: watching wrestling in the department store tv department. Damn, you may have been more obsessed and determined than even I was. I would’ve been terrified that the salesmen would figure out why I was hanging out there and confront me for being some kinda fruitcake. Also I do remember really trying hard to get into GLOW just as much as I did male on male wrestling but it really did not work at all for me. (I guess I must be some kinda fruitcake after all…)

  8. diemos says:

    Sneaking out of bed every Saturday night at midnight with the TV sound turned down to a minimum so that the parents wouldn’t hear, so I could watch “Championship wrestling from Madison Square Garden with your host, Vince McMahon Jr.”

    Barely visible shows on UHF stations. Ah, the 70s.

  9. Wantowrsl says:

    I think my heart started pounding a little harder just reading this story! We had three channels and sometimes could get a fourth on UHF. I have to say going through the listing looking for “Big Time Wrestling” was usually more stimulating than watching, because a lot of times the picture was so bad it was just a little better than shadows.