Before you had pyrotechnics and the big spectacle of drama and soap opera that is WWE today, there was a time when wrestling was meaningful. At the time once wrestlers like Frank Gotch, George Hackenshmidt were long gone (once the 30’s rolled around) you still had some great wrestlers who drew in crowds but then it started rooting in the ground of what was to become a heavy national spotlight and the start of sports-entertainment.
Back in the days of wrestling where they were guys like Bruno Sammartino, “Superstar” Billy Graham, Buddy Rogers, Crusher & The Bruiser and even wrestling greats Lou Thesz and Verne Gagne there wasn’t a big boss of the biggest corporation to go to until Vince McMahon sr. came into the spotlight in the late 60’s and 70’s. You had territories where promoters held their ground in certain states across the country, in
& abroad. There were champions in every territory but the biggest Company at the time next to what used to be the World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF) was the NWA ( National Wrestling Alliance. Canada
Wrestling camps back then were scarce and since there was no internet, cell phones hell a wrestling camp wasn’t even in the god damn phonebooks. They were through word of mouth. Back then up-coming wrestlers got the shit kicked out of them and some of those camps made Tough Enough look like a cake-walk. Ask guys like Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Paul Orndorff, and Randy Savage even the greatest good guy of them all, Ricky Steamboat. If you got into a camp it wasn’t easy and being in a camp wasn’t the hard part, it was being on the road and practically having wrestlers as your family. A wrestling camp in those days meant that if you didn’t come back for more and make just a tad more then 100% effort you didn’t belong there. Wrestling Legend Vern Gagne had a camp in Minnesota where he took up to 12-16 guys to see how tough they were and put through training that just didn’t seem to be human. I mean you have guys do 500 squats, 100’s of push-ups, ran stairs up and down then carrying a guy on your back and then you’d get in the ring to learn a few moves and that was just a daily routine for these guys. I don’t know the real details about this camp but I can assure you I have put myself through some workouts but I would not want to mess with guys who made it through that camp.
Other trainers like Eddy Sharkey, Killer Kowalski, Hiro Matsuda and even the late Karl Gotch would train some of the biggest names that went to NWA,
Japan, WWF/E and Vern’s near 30yr stint Organization the AWA in . The big time names that came out of these camps went on to have some of the most famous matches in the history of wrestling. Once the 80’s rolled around you had Mega Stars making huge bank and some of the matches these guys did lasted close to or even over a whole hour. Win/Lose/Draw those matches pitted wrestlers at the peak of sport to entertainment before those 2 words were put together by WWE owner Vince McMahon jr. Minnesota
Wrestling Camps today are very open to business and the training of wrestlers. Some camps are rip offs, very few give an up-coming wrestler what he needs to have Charisma, Ring Work, Conditioning, Mic Work, Working The Crowd and Ring Psychology. For the most part camps today are expensive as hell and usually from what I read far more wrestlers quit after a couple months then wrestlers who train their asses off and actually make it to the WWE. In my opinion, if most of these gyms had a synch of a Vern Gagne or a Hiro Matsuda Attitude I wouldn’t doubt some of the wrestlers would be far tougher then some guys today. Wrestlers in WWE are tough in their own right, they did a lot to get where they’re at but the training today is nothing like yesteryear.
For my opinion on WWE’s future, I would say it’ll make more money in 10 years then it did 30 years ago its really that huge and most likely already made that much bank as a company. A lot of people have their opinions about pro wrestlers and how much its more drama then physicality but the truth of the matter is these guys are some of the greatest athletes around and ya outside the ring some do drugs, drink and take certain things but in that ring when they wrestle they really are some of the best storytellers and some of the physicality they bring is just incredible. So the next time you give a wrestler shit try training like one and you’ll see how brutal some of these guys can really be. Even though it’s a spectacle and has characters that are just not that normal you have to give them props from where they came from and how they got there.