I was surprised to hear that the folks who run the Olympics are doing away with wrestling.
With all due respect to gymnasts, I would not have been surprised if they did away with that activity where you dance around with a ribbon on a stick. Jumping on parallel bars and turning all sorts of somersaults is a sport. Dancing around with a ribbon-clad stick is not.
I think wrestling didn’t make the cut because the Olympics didn’t change with the times.
Greco-Roman wrestling debuted at the games of 1896. It hasn’t changed very much.
What the Olympics need is rasslin’, the real kind.
There are some countries that participate in the Olympics that don’t get along. Some of them have, at times, been at war.
What better way to settle the score than with a good ol’ no-nonsense rasslin’ match?
You can send Bob Costas back to the hotel. You would need announcers in the great style of the late Gordon Solie, with help from Freddy Miller or Ed Capral. Those, my friends, were rasslin’ announcers.
There wouldn’t be any stretching and warming, there would be some on-camera trash talking before they entered the ring.
And there would be a ring, complete with turnbuckles. For the finals, there would be a chain-link fence for the cage match.
You would also need some folding metal chairs, so they could hit each other. OK, hit each other gently (wink, wink).
I know someone is saying that this doesn’t exactly match up with the international diplomacy that goes the Olympics.
Let me tell you that I once saw Ronnie “Hands of Stone” Garvin leave a wresting match with his archenemy, Jake “The Snake” Roberts walking right beside him. Of course, there was that time that Garvin knocked Ox Baker’s dentures out and then stomped on them.
I think the Olympics could stop at denture stomping. That just wouldn’t work.
I hope there would be some raucous fans, like the late Ruth Young of Macon. She broke her hip one night at the Macon Coliseum when she tripped over a TV camera cable. You can’t make all this stuff up.
When they started hanging those medals around their necks, you could turn some loose cannon loser on them and let him grab that medal and head to the ring for a little grudge match. That would generate some TV ratings.
Oh, by the way, there wouldn’t be any bouquets of flowers. No sir. We’d have some girl in a nice T-shirt and blue jeans handing out a bottle of Aqua Velva after-shave and a fresh plug of Bull of the Woods chewing tobacco.
And we wouldn’t be playing the national anthem, either. We’d have some multilingual country singers who could belt out Merle Haggard’s “Fightin’ Side Of Me” in their chosen language.
After reading this, I’m sure the Olympic folks will be calling me to ask me to come to Rio de Janeiro to consult with them.
Join us back in this space next week, when we will talk about another Olympic sport: fencing.
Barbed wire or chain-link?
Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on gainesvilletimes.com/harris.