The transition to the steroid era — World champion superstar Billy Graham

“The Big Cat,” Ernie Ladd; Handsome Harley Race! My two favorite fighters of all time. I forgot how much I tried as a kid to develop an attitude like Ernie Ladd’s. He would go by on my skateboard, announcing to everyone that I was the big cat! Thanks to YouTube, I realized how cool Harley Race was, even though I didn’t like it as much as I did when I was a kid (I see it as what a man is supposed to be; a man’s man!). I see him as a really tough guy who wanted to get into wrestling just to show how tough he was (isn’t that what it’s supposed to be about?). Today, I see most wrestlers wanting a six pack and afraid to say what’s really on their mind. It’s so corporate it’s pathetic! One example is Harley Race, an old school wrestler from the territories, taking on the “new style of steroids” wrestler that started to go mainstream in the ’80s. The wrestler he faced in the video is superstar Billy Graham. In the interview, superstar Graham confronts Harley Race out of the blue, while Race is giving an interview. Superstar proceeds to show off his massive steroid-induced arms. I love when Race tells him; “I don’t need that puffed bologna, I’m a real man,” and he said it quite calmly. Superstar waved his hand and walked away to argue without saying a word.

That is exactly what I’m talking about The wrestlers of the late ’60s and ’70s were easily tougher men than what you see coming out of the shade today; big fireworks and dazzling clothes in neon colors. Harley Race had an old school tattoo; no coloring, just black ink — it was rough! Today’s wrestlers are full of colorful tattoos and bloated, steroid-induced physiques. Just want to make me vomit! Ernie Ladd gave an interview in which he called Chief Jay Strongbow a drunken Indian, and called Manny Fernandez a “wet”. He said that he would beat up the “Greek” Bubba Douglas. Ernie turned out to be a great black athlete. He was a 5-time All-Pro with the Chargers and Chiefs. Without a doubt, he was my favorite fighter growing up. He was a proven great athlete, and it shows in his younger games that he moved like a great soccer player would. He ended up with bad knees when the ’80s rolled around.

Check out some full episodes of old school wrestling on YouTube

Like I said, it doesn’t seem like you’re alone in this thought. If you look specifically at the YouTube comments, for shows like CWF (Championship Wrestling From Florida), hosted by Gordon Solie, you’ll see nothing but admiring comments from everyone, young and old alike. But if you look at wrestling, post 2005, you’ll see a lot of people saying that wrestling today is pathetic. That was other point you wanted to make; announcers such as Gordon Solie used actual wrestling moves in their commentary: “high hip throw”; “belly to belly suplex”; “catch as a wrestler can catch”; “lockout – neck and elbow”. Those are just some of the phrases that lend credibility to the entire wrestling experience. I can vividly remember when he was a kid, attending the Tuesday night taping at the old Ft. Homer Hesterly Armory in Tampa. Those were times I will never forget.