By MIKE VINSON
Wrestling: the sport or activity of grappling with an opponent and trying to throw or hold them down on the ground, typically according to a code of rules (reference: Webster's Dictionary).
*Rasslin': a southern style of professional wrestling which emphasizes kayfabe (staged and scripted) and stiffness, with fewer squash matches and generally longer feuds (reference: Urban Dictionary).
World Wrestling Entertainment/WWE was founded by, and is still owned by, Vince McMahan. In the year 2017, WWE is both a multi-million-dollar enterprise and a significant player on the New York Stock Exchange/NYSE, "by far the world's largest stock exchange." Many contend that 'Hulk' Hogan's appearance in the film "Rocky III," starring Sylvester Stallone as comeback boxer Rocky Balboa (1982), transformed wrestling from the "cattle barns of yesteryear to the Vegas-style venues of today."
Currently, the biggest name in the WWE is Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, having been WWE champion a reported 8 times. Standing 6 feet 5 inches and weighing 270 chiseled pounds, The Rock very well could be the biggest name in all of entertainment, for that matter. In addition to his wrestling achievements, The Rock's entertainment resume includes major roles in the following films: "The Scorpion King" (2002), "Walking Tall" (2004), "Be Cool" (2005), "Hercules" (2014), the "Fast & Furious" franchise, recently-released "Baywatch," etc. Still, The Rock routinely hosts popular TV shows, such as "Saturday Night Live," and also appears on the covers of fitness magazines.
Understandably, many of today's WWE fans are not old enough to remember the 'good ol' days of rasslin'--when it truly was 'Raw'! However, I am old enough to recall those days. Join me as we leave the NYSE on Wall Street, trade Dom Perignon Champagne for Beechnut Chewing Tobacco, and travel back a few decades ...
As a young boy -- early to mid '60s, in particular -- I remember that many of the local men would sit glued to the television set on Saturday afternoon watching, what they termed as, rasslin', live from the Hippodrome in Nashville, TN.
While promoters such as Nick Gulas and Roy Welch talked up the matches, the 'good guys' battled the 'bad guys' inside the ring, or, sometimes, the 'cage.' Some of the bad guys were Jerry 'The King' Lawler, 'Superstar' Bill Dundee, 'Gentleman' Saul Weingroff, and 'Dirty' Dutch Mantell. Some of the good guys were Len Rossi, Tojo Yamamoto, 'Haystack' Calhoun, 'Corsica' Joe, and Jackie Fargo.
And, indeed, it is rasslin' legend Jackie Fargo on whom I intend to focus here--better yet, the near hysteria he caused when displaying, inside the ring, his legendary 'Fargo Strut'!
Short, stocky--but physically impressive -- Jackie Fargo, also known as the 'Fabulous One,' was tattooed and had this long shock of blond hair (bleached, I'm sure, if the truth could be revealed). With a stiff upper lip, reminiscent of Elvis, and a swaggering attitude, Fargo fought his way up through the ranks, starting out as a bad guy and eventually converting over to a good guy, and going back-and-forth from time-to-time (as did many others).
For me, Jackie Fargo epitomized the true 'barroom brawler.' The thing I most fondly recall concerning Jackie Fargo, however, was his signature move: the 'Fargo Strut.' Here's how it went down: Jackie would be slugging it out with his opponent. At some point during the match, Jackie's foe would be getting the better of him. The opponent would proceed to take Fargo by the arm and sling him into the ropes, which, in turn, would propel him back towards the opponent, who was waiting to finish off Fargo with a 'clothesline' (stiff arm to the head or neck).
However, five to six steps before reaching his opponent's outstretched arm, Fargo would stop abruptly, make eye contact with the audience, cast a cocky smirk at his foe, and 'strut' around the ring, shaking his hips in a slow, suggestive manner. I'm here to tell you that the audience -- live and via television -- went stone-cold crazy!
I'm talking about grown men and women rushing up to the ring! Others turning over television sets while viewing at home! Religious, Bible-Belt folks condemning Fargo's gyrations as 'vulgar,' that it shouldn't be allowed on television! (NOTE: Some of the gals who dance in rap videos could take some lessons from the Fargo Strut.)
Regardless, the Fargo Strut became a sensation of its own, and I, personally, am convinced it was responsible for catapulting Jackie Fargo from everyday, run-of-the-mill 'rassler' to nationally-known superstar.
When Jackie Fargo was inducted into the NWA Wrestling Hall of Heroes in 2009, he walked across the stage doing, yep, the Fargo Strut. I wish I could've been there to watch him do that.
(NOTE: Jackie Fargo passed away on June 24, 2014, at age 82, in China Grove, North Carolina. To watch him perform the 'Fargo Strut,' go to YouTube and type in: Jackie Fargo - Fargo Strut.)