Rasslin’ with Identity

OK, here you go–a secret about me. I grew-up watching rasslin’. No, not wrestling. Rasslin’.

I’m not talking about the fancy pyrotechnic, fake-tanned, steroid-filled, high-quality-production stuff you see today. I’m talking about the stuff that occurred in the Topeka Municipal Auditorium and the St. Joseph Civic Arena on a stained, canvas mat in the middle of a smoky, sweaty, cinder-block auditorium. I never saw WWE or WWF or WCW as a kid. The rabbit ears on our little rural television only received All-Star Wrestling or other productions of the Central States Wrestling Association. Occasionally, we were lucky enough to see a production of NWA on a Saturday late morning.

My father and I watched these gladiators religiously, with equal parts laughter and cheers. It may not be refined or cosmopolitan, but it was fun.

Thinking back on those weekend shows, I realize that the men running-around in ill-fitting briefs symbolized much about our culture and society. Even more, I realize they establish certain categories that describe much about different segments of the legal world.

Sure, all lawyers are different, but, if we look carefully, we can compartmentalize the legal population into sub-groups based on their abilities, desires, aspirations, and methods.

Here are the groups as I see them.

Group 1: The Blue Collar Everyman (Harley Race, Bulldog Bob Brown, Bob Geigel)

Bob Geigel and "Bulldog" Bob Brown

These guys didn’t worry about tans. They could care less about frills and fame. They just worked hard day-in and day-out, trying to make the most of their life. They didn’t worry about the latest fashion in New York or trends on the West Coast. These guys worried about the next match and the next opponent.

Often, things got dirty and bloody, but that didn’t bother them. In a way, they preferred it that way.

Bob Brown, Bob Geigel, and Harley Race are pioneers in this segment. They are the everyman, sharing traits of men working in factories and farms everywhere. Just as easily as you see them execute a thunderous knee-drop on an opponent, you can see them operating heavy machinery on a construction site.

You’ve also seen lawyers like these guys. They muck from case to case, working hard, ignoring the cameras, limelight, and fancy distractions. They aren’t the prettiest, but they sure get the job done.

Honorable Mention goes to my second favorite rassler, The Freight Train, Rufus R. Jones. Famous quote: “My name is Rufus R. Jones, and the “R” stands for guts.”

Group 2. The Pretty Boys (Ric Flair)

Ric Flair in Seoul, South Korea. February 10, ...

Ric Flair. Image via Wikipedia

Guys like Harley Race slogged their way though the wrestling scene. Others made it with bleach-blonde hair, fancy robes, sequins, and an occasional cheap-shot. That’s this next crew. Sure, they found a lot of success and fame, but it came at the expense of the everyman.

Ric Flair is an icon in rasslin’, but he did so by bringing the bling to the ring. Sure, he partnered with some blue collar types like Arn Anderson when the Four Horsemen were formed, but he still remained true to his fancy-pants roots to the end.

You’ve all seen lawyers like this. They dress fancy, they drive fancy, and they speak fancy, but their main concern, once you get to know them, is just being as fancy as they can be. They want to do well, and many also want to help clients. Many become fantastic courtroom advocates, but their appreciation for ruffles and feather boas make the everyman (wearing an off-the-rack suit) want to vomit.

Group 3: The Acrobats (Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka)

Bouncing from ringside to ringside, you can’t keep track of these guys. One minute, they’re writing a motion, the next, they’re in court arguing for bail. They do flips, handstands, and fly around the courthouse like a superhero.

The Superfly amazed rasslin’ fans everywhere with his acrobatic, high-flying style. Fellow rasslers watched with awe as he performed physical feats previously thought impossible.

Really more of a variant of their Blue Collar brethren. These are the guys with superior gifts and talents. Us ordinary guys look at them in amazement. Yet, they are amazingly humble and willing to help others. Sometimes, they receive due praise and recognition for their abilities, but sometimes they work relatively anonymously, one client at a time. Either way, you’ll never hear a complaint exit their lips. Each day is a new adventure for them.

Honorable Mention goes to the most underappreciated influence on today’s rasslin’: Mexican Luchadores. They are the perfect blend of Blue Collar and Acrobat. If you find a lawyer with these traits, you’ve found the perfect attorney.

Group 4: The Horizon Gazers (The Rock)

These guys don’t really add much to their current profession, just enough to hopefully be noticed by those outside the gate.

The Rock (my only reference to the more modern rasslin’ productions) made quite a splash as he ascended to the championship, but he never seemed like his heart was into the game. He always seemed more focused on the next career–one hopefully in Hollywood. He got there, but many with similar aspirations don’t. Guys like this either make it big or fizzle in a pool of self-pity.

You’ve all seen lawyers like this. You see them at the courthouse working for clients, but they never seem to have their heart 100% in their cases. These are the guys who really want to put “CNN” or “Fox News” into their credentials. To them, the pinnacle of the mountain is being mentioned in the credits of a “Law and Order” episode as special consultant. Clients and the practice of law are merely stepping stones for their real goal.

An extreme example of horizon-gazing is Nancy Grace, who practiced law just long enough to become the hallmark of Georgia prosecutorial misconduct prior to her current vocation of crying fitfully at cameras.

Group 5. The Yappers (Jimmy Hart and Captain Lou Albano)

Jimmy "The Mouth of the South" Hart

They’ve never wrestled a day in their lives, but Jimmy “The Mouth of the South” Hart and Lou Albano will talk until you die of bullshit consumption. They run around the ring, squawking and crowing. They piss-off the crowd, distract the referee, and annoy the rasslers.

You know these guys. They’re out there talking about their lawyering prowess and how bad the judge sucks and how they can woo any jury they get. The mouth never stops.

These are the guys who brag about their “win” percent. When you inquire further, they eventually reveal, begrudgingly, that the reason they never lost a case is because they never tried a case.

Sure, you want to smack the shit out of them, but they are occasionally useful as comic relief at bar functions.

Group 6: The Activists (Norman Smiley)

I never got Norman Smiley. He arrived on the scene as an effeminate addition to the rasslin’ lineup. It seemed like the production was attempting to make a statement, and the effort became bizarre with finishing moves named the “Big Wiggle” and “Smiley Spank.”

In the end, this was a forced attempt at some sort of social activism (I think, but I’m still not entirely sure), but, thankfully, his tenure is entirely forgettable.

You’ve seen these guys as lawyers, too. The arrive unannounced at various events, screaming about how they are going to effect change in the establishment. They arrive to recruit others to join a plot at being “game changers” and forcing a complete reboot of a system (whatever that may be). Generally, they are met with greetings of “Ummm, who the fuck are you, dude?”

They fail to see all sides of an argument and are entirely oblivious to their lack of insight.

They make some noise and then fade-away as their monetary and motivational reserves wane. Eventually, someone at the local bar meeting says “Hey, what ever happened to _______?” Then, laughter ensues.


7 thoughts on “Rasslin’ with Identity

    • Today’s rasslin’ exists because of Superfly. And, I failed to mention the truly underappreciated influence of Mexican Luchadores.

  1. Ha! A retired detective with whom I work says that a good day is a day on which you learn something new. Thanks for making my day.

    RASSLIN’ – huh!

    But, you know…is this possibly something my older brother watched when I was a little girl? Bruno Samartino, and Bill Cardille doing broadcasts from the show in Pittsburgh? Does that ring a bell? Isn’t that rasslin’?
    The rest of our family was bemused and somewhat embarassed…and now that brother’s a judge (and a good one). Gotta be a moral here somewhere.

    I’m sure my brother never saw that Smiley fellow, though; he’d be horrified, I’m sure!

    • Bruno Sammartino was one of the pioneers as Rasslin’ made it to the mainstream. Although, he was just a tad classier than the stuff I watched.

      Just for you, here’s my man, Bulldog Bob Brown, in action. Make sure you watch it at the office with the volume turned-up.

  2. My laughter was louder than the volume! Thanks.

    My brother was a very good high school wrestler, and we used to go to his matches. He never got to kick anyone, or fling them to the side… Rasslin’ really is funny! If it was real, there would be blood and dead folks in that ring. Combined with the sincerity of the commentary, rasslin’ really is quite a concoction! Thanks; really enjoyed this. 🙂

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