Out of boredom as a wrestling fan, I’ve researched why blond hair is “evil” in wrestling, but always put on someone to make them a star. I trace it back to wrestling’s first star Gorgeous George, who was flashy and demanded spotlight wherever he went. This made him a heel to the casual wrestling fan, the outsiders, the “marks”. Then come the next generation of wrestling stars, who were guys with great wrestling ability, but no business smarts or originality. Buddy Rogers and Eddie Graham-era. They used the blond hair just to get over. They saw its worked for George, but never understood why. Well, I think Freddie Blassie understood how it drew heat and became a greater heel because of it. So pro wrestling finds its center in the Southern territories working under the NWA. And every young scrawny blue collar boy with a dream could become a wrestler in the South. Because it was less about real wrestling skill and more about stories, rumors, violence, sex and the American dream of “making it”. And lots of guys were blond! There’s a long heritage of the old-school black trunks, taped fists, long wrestling boots (once cowboy boots), sinister goatee, long haired heel. It could be the most prominent character in wrestling, after the jobber. You can see influence in Steve Corino, CM Punk (specifically in ROH), Barry Windham, Tommy Rich, Austin Idol, Eric Embry, “Hot Stuff” Eddie Gilbert, Steve Austin (especially as Stunning Steve), Raven, “Dr. D ” David Schultz, Triple H and of course Ric Flair. Brawlers who are still paranoid and cowardly but intelligent in the ring, they are the best heels and the best workers. They all typically have the same wrestling style. Chops, fists, holds, using their knees and elbows to sell the mat, find an underhanded way to win, usually with a manager, valet or bodyguard, or maybe a hidden weapon or backup plan.
But faces had to get over too. So there’s the blond hair face. Dusty Rhodes, “Captain Redneck” Dick Murdoch, Michael P.S. Hayes, Hulk Hogan, Sting, Warrior and the faces who followed that mold - Shawn Michaels, The Rock, Tommy Dreamer, Jerry Lawler and John Cena. And a lot of this face psychology was lifted from black wrestling stars like Bobo Brazil, Abdullah the Butcher, The Junkyard Dog, Thunderbolt Patterson, Big Cat Ernie Ladd and Butch Reed. Black stars innovated Southern wrestling, but received little credit, compensation and rarely a championship. But their young white fans could carry on the tradition. But they had to out-shine the charismatic, visually-bright and physically vicious lineage of stars who followed Gorgeous George. So they copied the other thing that made George over - his sloppy, comical, non-technical style of improvising and planned spots. Interacting with the referee, taunting and connecting with the crowd, executing select moves and avoiding tiring wrestling, setting up fiery comebacks and laying on the mat selling for sympathy. And occasionally just rolling over a jobber heel. They run the ropes, use clotheslines and throws, a dropkick, one hold, one slam, a table, chair or comical prop. They typically bleed, love using the mic and getting robbed by a heel so they can get final revenge in a victory. And we all know how “injured” they get, so they can take time off or having a storyline reason why they occasionally get beaten up by a heel.
So in analyzing all of this influence from gimmick hair and how its shaped the on-screen and off-screen character of wrestling, I realized that Gorgeous George is the most important wrestler ever. Better than Andre, bigger in his day than Hulk Hogan and he was the only wrestler who was totally unique and totally in his own class. He inspired entertainers and athletes across the board. He was sports entertainment back when wrestling was simply a fake sport out to distract and rob people. He exposed the business with a wink to the “marks” who didn’t understand it was a work. And he did it by spoofing the real crooks in the business. He’s the definition of a heel. He is THE gimmick. And the symbol of getting over. A person throwing a rose to fans to piss them off. #1 Pro Wrestler. R.I.P. Gorgeous George.
I’m really into Debuts now, especially classic WWF runs. Razor Ramon’s debut is solid gold. Nevermind Mr. Perfect and Vince McMahon’s borderline-homoerotic “beefcake” commentary. Its fascinating to see from the start of the match and the end of the match how Scott Hall grasped that gimmick and BECAME that persona.
Dirty Dutch, the ladies pet and the mens regret