We might be used to scoffing at the notion of conspiracy theorists and their wild notions about melting steel, U.F.O’s and government cover ups, but we have to sometimes consider that they might actually be right.
A little bit of background; I grew up as a fan of pro-wrestling. I loved the drama and the athleticism, I was enough of a fan that I eventually trained to be a pro-wrestler. And while my short-lived career as a pro-wrestler was very short-lived (one 4-minute match) I was involved in the community and culture of pro-wrestling for many years. As such I learned the secrets to the craft, which are not so secret anymore…
The portrayal of events in pro-wrestling being “real”, such as the matches, interviews and storylines; is what’s known as “kayfabe“. The internet has more or less facilitated exposure all of pro-wrestling secrets, including the one that it is not legitimate sporting contests, but that it is an athletic exhibition, scripted and planned out to varying degrees. These facts being general public knowledge is fairly recent, only in the last 15 years or so. Before that, learning the secrets required you to be a part of the business, where the knowledge was handed down.
In the 1980’s there was a former pro-wrestler named Jim Wilson, he started making waves in the industry when he appeared on the tv show 20/20 along with fellow wrestler Eddie Mansfield in 1984.
The two of them explained the true nature of pro-wrestling to host John Stossel and demonstrated some of the techniques, such as “blading“, which is where a wrestler deliberately cuts himself with a blade to produce blood. Yes, most of the time when you see in blood in pro-wrestling it is real.
In addition to exposing the secrets, Wilson made claims that he was blackballed from wrestling because he rejected the sexual advances of a wrestling promoter in Australia.
Soon after the appearance on 20/20 Jim made an appearance on the Morton Downey Jr. show along with several active wrestlers. He was portrayed by most of the people present as a liar and a goof.
Here he is taking about blading.
Dr. David Schultz calls him a liar saying that blading doesn’t exist, and says that he has never bladed. While that last part may be true, everyone in the wrestling business knows about blading. In fact Schultz is the one who is lying and he makes ad-hominem attacks against Wilson calling him a homosexual.
Promoter Dennis Coralluzzo then comes on and attacks him for being a “jobber” (someone in wrestling who loses a lot) and asks him “what do you have to prove”.
Manager and future promoter Paul E. Dangerously came on via the phone and also attacked Wilson saying that he is out of wrestling because he didn’t produce ratings, not because he was blackballed.
After some time talking about racism in wrestling, legendary pro-wrestling manager Capt. Lou Albano comes on and makes many of the same claims that Schultz made, specifically that blading didn’t exist.
Another outright lie.
Lou goes on to say that whenever he wrestled and got beat, he got beat by the better man, implying that the matches are legitimate contests, another lie.
Then Morton Downey asks Lou Albano point-blank;
Do you guys know who’s going to win before the match starts?
Lou’s answer was that he never knew of any pre-arrangement, that no one ever came to him.
Let me be clear, pro-wrestling has been an athletic exhibition with pre-arranged outcomes for nearly 100 years.
Mrs. Lou Albano then comes on and says that Lou often came home battered, but Wilson never claimed that injuries weren’t real, she is essentially making a red herring argument.
Downey then asks Wilson point-blank;
Did they ever ask you to win or lose a match?
Yes, every night.
The other wrestlers present yell at him, call him a lair, call him a piece of garbage, throw a drink in his face, all while the crowd cheers the verbal abuse Wilson endures.
The rest of the show contains much of the same. You have a studio full of current and former pro-wrestlers, a hostile crowd, all directing their vitriol at Wilson, denying his claims. Wilson is the only one on the whole program that is telling the truth. We know that now, 20+ years later. The other people on the show were “protecting the business” and did their best to discredit Wilson by calling him a homosexual, a jobber, etc. They were all involved in a conspiracy to deceive the viewing public.
Now I am not necessarily condemning them for doing this though. Part of the culture of pro-wrestling at that time was to deny the exposure and defend the business no matter what. Even for Shultz, who was no longer active in the wrestling business at this point, it will still engrained into his psyche to protect the business.
The lesson to learn here is that a skeptic keeps an open mind and follows the evidence, we don’t know when a conspiracy theory might turn out to be true.