OK, so maybe the headline oversells how impressive the photos are just a bit, but I did want to share these relatively candid personal photos from an event circa March 1981 (at least that’s when the photos were developed). This will also give me an opportunity to talk a bit about professional wrestling and related items.
I was 8 years old at the time [at least if the stamped date on the back of the photos is to be believed] the World Wrestling Federation, or WWF, came to our local high school, Sayreville War Memorial, in New Jersey. I remember watching professional wrestling on local TV with my dad for years, and at that tender age was still enamored with the concept, ignorant of the fact that it was all staged. It would only be about a year or two later that I couldn’t get past how fake professional wrestling was and stopped watching it completely, but nevertheless, at the time the show came to town, I was still very much into it all.
While I’ve only followed professional wrestling loosely as an unavoidable pop culture phenomenon over the years, I doubt the WWF (eventually the WWE, of course, for both Entertainment and to avoid any issues with the w
Whatever the setup, it was a fun event. I remember seeing some of my favorite wrestlers in person, like Pedro Morales, who lost [as a nice bonus we drove next to the car he was driving on the way home and he waved], and several others whose names slip my mind after all these years. I also remember during one match, which I believe was the one Andre the Giant was involved in, a particularly egregious miss with a kick, despite the intended recipient reacting like he was actually hit (and the ring floor suitably stomped to make a sound). The crowd groaned, but it was only a momentary hiccup in the over-the-top fun.
Anyway, as you can see in the photos, there’s a shot of Hulk Hogan walking outside the ring and a shot of Andre the Giant inside the ring. There were definitely more photos taken, but these were the only two my father uncovered when cleaning out his house for an upcoming move.
What I find interesting about the Hulk Hogan photo is how undersized he appears there. He was and still is a big, tall dude, but he definitely put on additional bulk in his transition from a heel [I do vaguely remember watching the title match where he “heroically” beat The Iron Sheik who had recently beat another one of my favorites for the title, Bob Backlund].
Andre the Giant, of course, is undeniably huge in that photo, but it’s interesting to note that this was a time when he was younger and still in relatively lean shape. His health would get progressively work, obviously, over the years, and his physique would suffer.
Finally, I just want to state that while even as a relatively young child I couldn’t get past how staged everything was, and think that today’s WWE theatrics are comical, I absolutely respect these performers as the tremendous athletes they are. As a 45-year-old who’s worked out well over 30 years now and still trains hard for one to two hours a day at least five days a week, my joints and back know all-too-well what a physical toll even doing that takes on a body, let alone what someone suffers through from all of the acrobatic professional wrestling moves.