Nick Bockwinkel was blessed with a hearty, barrel chested frame that still looked great even beyond age 50. Many young wrestling fans were captivated by that hairy chest, a sign of masculinity, on the mature, talented grappler. This was at the time when body hair was going out of style in the wrestling ring (but Bockwinkel always remained proudly old-school.)
Bockwinkel was sexy without even trying. Did he even realize that many male fans were tuning in to AWA Wrestling just to look at him and fantasize about him? If so, he didn’t let on. He was no-nonsense and professional, always nicely tanned, and had some great hair — blond and flowing like a Viking hero. But the very hottest thing about Bockwinkel was the fact that he wrestled. He willingly got down on the mat (nearly naked) and rolled around, groping and grappling and groaning, with whoever wanted to wrestle him.
For your viewing pleasure today (and in a couple of future blogs), here is one of the last great classic matches — a one-hour festival of Wrasslin holds between handsome rookie Curt Hennig and the veteran Bockwinkel. The match took place in 1986, soon before wrestling changed to a more fast-paced, high-flying style (rather than mat wrestling), and hour-long strategic battles like this one were replaced by shorter, faster fights.
The two studs shared many similarities (in fact, I sometimes thought Hennig seemed like Bockwinkel’s son…) They’re both tan and blond and beautiful, and they both are talented wrestlers, with about 2,000 holds in their combined arsenals. Either man could pull off the nickname of “Mr. Perfect.”
The primary contrast between these two wrestling greats is their age. Bockwinkel is the veteran on the downside of his career, Hennig is the young up-and-comer. Bockwinkel is hairy chested, Hennig is smooth like a kid. Bockwinkel is seen to have the advantage in experience, Hennig is younger with more energy. The story of this match is the passing of the torch, the hand-off of the title of Hottest Stud in the Federation from veteran to rookie.
The daddy (Bockwinkel) teaches the kid (Hennig) how to rassle a man. Hennig and Bockwinkel take their time (they spend an entire hour rolling around together). They demonstrate for us, one after another, the most erotic, sexually suggestive pro wrestling holds ever invented:
Armbar, Headlock, Headscissor, Short Arm Scissor, Camel Clutch, Pile Driver, Sleeper, Boston Crab, and a few other holds I’m not even sure what they’re called, like Bockwinkel’s leglock below. I think it’s called the “Key Lock” but we should call it the “Bockwinkel Hold” because he sure loved applying this hold to his victim’s leg.
This match wasn’t a wrestling match, it was a Wrassling match — the word “Wrassling” said with emphasis on the R and sounding like it has about four S’s. Wrassling means getting down on the mat and actually touching the other man.
A reader of this blog recently sent me an e-mail describing why he prefers wrassling — the classic style of grappling being performed here by Hennig and Bockwinkel:
“I love the old class wrassling because the men were more mature and masculine to me, more like the hunky dads on the block. Although still staged in a way, it was more about sweaty muscle struggle between barechested masculine men than talking on the microphone for half the show and playing out stupid soap operas. Back in the good ole days the wrasslers used to focus on long drawn out holds, tests of strength and the body contact was maximum.”
This match between Hennig and Bockwinkel is available on YouTube in six separate clips: