Spokesman-Review – January 24, 1936
By Charles R. Stark Jr.
“Wrestling is nothing but a vaudeville show put on to entertain and fool the public.”
“I tell you that wrestling is on the level, there’s nothing fake about it. Those guys are plain mad at each other and will do anything to win.”
Those are a couple of samples of remarks overheard after any wrestling match here or anywhere else on the circuit. The audience divides over the question, gets serious enough to start a young riot and generally has a gloriously happy evening. No matter what the truth may be it is generally a fine show, and after all people pay their money to be amused.
But what do the wrestlers say about it themselves? If you corner any of them and put the question baldly to them they’ll act hurt that you should even doubt their sincerity. They’ll ask you, almost with tears in their eyes, if you think for a minute that any one would go into a ring and take the punishment they take unless it was on the up-and-up.
Don’t be fooled by those fears for a minute. They were probably brought on as a result of a prolonged fit of laughter over the gullibility of the public in general and the wrestling public in particular. If you want to get at the real truth of the matter adjourn to a police station in California and listen.
Chief Chewaki, formerly of the Haskell Indian football squad, is standing before the desk about to be booked on a charge of “assault with a deadly weapon, to wit one wire coat hanger.” He is a wrestler of no mean ability and the alleged assault took place during a match.
The chief doesn’t like the idea of being put in jail for a bit of innocent fun. He also doesn’t like the idea of exposing any of the inside tricks of his trade. He is faced by a dilemma. Keep the trick secret and go to jail, expose it and go free. No jail for him, he decides to tell all, and does.
Carefully he explains to the prosecuting officer who is questioning him that he had no lethal designs on his opponent when he dragged the coat hanger out, straightened it quickly and wound it around the other man’s neck, tightening it by putting his foot against a chin and pulling up the wire. He explains that he didn’t mean to precipitate a riot, especially as he lost one dental plate and had his nose flattened in the rush of the crowd.
“You see it’s this way,” he goes on. “We have to be thinking up tricks all the time to amuse the crowd. Sometimes it’s one thing and sometimes it is another. I just happened to see this coat hanger and it gave me an idea for something new so I tried it out. I thought the crowd would get a real kick out of it.”
And so he goes on explaining the inside of the wrestling game. Before he is through tears are glittering in the yes of every one present, real mirthful tears, and the prosecutor decides to call the matter a draw and let him go, particularly as his opponent is standing right there pleading for his release. The party winds up in peace and harmony and everybody declares it was a brand new, swell trick.
Don’t think I have any quarrel with the wrestlers, for I haven’t. Ever since they stopped calling the bouts matches and advertised them as exhibitions it has been all right with me. It is the finest bit of vaudeville acting you can find in these days and well worth the price of admission.