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Wrestling in the corner of my mind

August 26, 2012|By Grant Gordon
  • The crowd gives a thumbs down at a taping of the NWA Championship Wrestling from Hollywood at the Glendale Studios.
The crowd gives a thumbs down at a taping of the NWA Championship… (Mike Mullen )

Tucked inside the curtained confines of Glendale Studios, marked by a boisterous yet intimate gathering on a clear California afternoon, sat a time machine.

A four-sided DeLorean, if you will — marked by turnbuckles, an apron, inhabited by misunderstood and underappreciated gladiators and surrounded by vocal and loyal fans — is at the center of it all.

Therein lied my younger days.

I can't remember how young I was when my Dad took me to the Fabulous Forum to see NWA Wrestling. I vaguely remember standing in the aisle, pointing at Lex Luger, telling him how much he "sucked," my Dad laughing uncontrollably next to me and Luger pointing straight at me and motioning that he was going to break me in half. It was the first of many trips.

And on a Sunday in Glendale I got to take a trip down memory lane, only this time I got to go behind the curtain.

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Just about every month "NWA Championship Wrestling from Hollywood" tapes its weekly television shows at Glendale Studios, cramming roughly four hours and four weeks' worth of action and storytelling into one crazy afternoon.

Most reporters, sports writers or not, could probably care less about such a story. Clearly I'm not one of them.

For me, it was an odyssey into the past.

Gone for the most part are the days of kayfabe, when wrestlers held steadfast to their characters, the heels (bad guys) always acting the part and never seen with their rival babyfaces (the good guys). So, as the second-story locker room hustled and bustled, I was fortunate to get real answers from real people.

It's hard to get to know somebody in a few minutes, but if you listen well enough you can to a certain extent.

I walked in not exactly sure what my story — or stories as it is now — would be, deciding that I'd let the experience lead the way.

When publicist Marc Kruskol motioned me over to talk to James Morgan, I wasn't even sure I needed to interview him. Truth is I probably didn't, but I was glad I did. A conniving heel on television, Morgan is about as nice a guy as you'll ever meet. On top of that, he busts his butt hoping to one day make it to the big time in the wrestling business while also working 12-hour shifts as a nurse.

Morgan was emblematic of the notion that while I'm certain most naysayers would characterize all professional wrestlers as fitting into the same category, most are very different, all owning their own stories.

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