Stating the obvious, things were so different when I was growing up. You need look no further than the world of pro wrestling.
Back then, there was still the illusion that wrestling was real. Oh sure, we all knew it was staged, but there was a sliver of doubt. We didn't see our wrestling heroes all over the media. There was still a lot of mystery behind wrestling. Either way, we simply enjoyed the pure entertainment it delivered.
Wrestlers used maneuvers like "The Boston Crab," the sleeper hold, the heart punch and more. One of my favorites was the claw.
Few wrestlers did the claw better than Baron Von Raschke. The claw was billed as "the most dangerous hold in all of wrestling." Whether applied to the head or other body areas, the claw could do serious damage. The best wrestling holds are ones that legit could hurt people. We all practiced these hols on friends.
Back then, the Baron was a dangerous villain. Only after the internet revealed details did we learn that the Baron was really James Raschke from Hastings, MN. He had a great 30+ year career. He never won a major singles title in the big companies, but back then, titles were exchanged weekly. There were many stars like the Baron who never won a singles title. These men built the sport. Nobody thought less of any of them for not winning a heavyweight title.
I met the Baron a few years ago in Milwaukee, WI. He could not have been any nicer. We talked about his legendary career. We talked about how popular he was in the midwest. He was huge.
He had a great time at this event. He talked to NHL HOFer Bobby Hull and MLB HOFer Fergie Jenkins. These men were all stars in the area in the late 60s and early 70s. It was cool seeing three men of different sports all reminiscing.
The Baron gladly put up the claw every time he was asked and he was asked a lot. He embraced the fans and loved hearing our memories.
It was a simpler time. Wrestlers didn't do athletic moves like triple flips off the top rope. The modern wrestler is much more athletic and can do more spectacular moves, but I'll take the claw any day of the week.
Baron Von Raschke and me in Milwaukee, WI-November 2017.