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Why Do We Study Wrestling History?: Part 1 – A Disaster of the First Magnitude

Why Do We Study Wrestling History?

Part 1 – A Disaster of the First Magnitude

October 18, 2022

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A Disaster of the First Magnitude

Mrs. Anderson said, “We are in the presence of a disaster of the first magnitude.” 

You may recognize that 1938 quote as one spoken by Winston Churchill as he described the state of Czechoslovakia as an omen for Western Europe should Natzi Germany look westward.

So why did I quote Anderson, and who is this Mrs. Anderson?  

The Anderson I refer to here used the “disaster” quote as she stood in front of my 7th grade social studies class.

You might think the disaster she was describing was Vince Russo’s booking in WCW or a promoter’s decision to start a feud with a high profile gimmick match normally reserved for the conclusion of a blood feud.

You’d be wrong . . . the disaster in question sat in front of her. It was us. 

My adolescent peers and I misbehaved in such a manner that if Anderson failed to course correct, our small class in upstate New York may have gone through life without understanding much of recorded history. 

Not this quote nor any specific act of Anderson, Farley, or Fosco (those were my other history teachers) could change our fate to enter adulthood as uneducated monsters.

Where were the teachings of Matt Striker, Dean Douglas, Andre Chase or the Genius to set us straight?

You’re Doomed to Repeat the Mistakes of the Past

Fortunately for us and for those noble teachers (Anderson, Farley, Fosco), we all wanted to someday move on from high school. Our history grade each year was an obstacle to that end, so we listened, studied, and put pen to paper when required for homework and tests.

The goal of graduation never stopped us from asking the same questions asked by all American children at some point in their academic struggles:

  • Why do we need to study history?
  • How will knowing any of this help me in life?
  • What’s the point?

The adults of our lives generally answered with, “if you don’t understand history, then you will be doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past.”

We had to accept that answer and continue our studies pertaining to the great wars of human history despite lacking any political or military aspirations for ourselves?

Wrestling Shoulder Programming Focuses on the Past

We all went on with our lives.

I continued my education in college and settled into a life focused on climbing the corporate ladder. I climbed that metaphorical ladder with such speed and agility that if my corporate ladder was a Money in the Bank ladder match, I would have no problem winning the briefcase every year. The promotions came regularly, but after 15 years I was lost and directionless. No longer did I want to pursue the next rung of the ladder. 

I left the corporate world, started a life becoming a professional fan of professional wrestling, and as a result began interacting with the IWC (internet wrestling community).

I discovered that fans of professional wrestling are particularly interested (maybe obsessive) in the past – especially if they lived through that past. 

Professional Wrestling exists through traditional TV broadcast or streaming every night of the week, and an entire industry of shoulder programming has grown up alongside it. 

With big budgets in WWE and AEW, it makes sense for them to produce additional content for their fans. 

I found it interesting that this shoulder programming seemed more focused on what happened 20-50 years ago.

Apparently nobody cared about what happened on TV last night. 

And it isn’t just WWE and AEW producing this content. The hours of independently produced documentaries and podcasts far outnumber the hours produced by those champions of the industry. 

Why Study Wrestling History?

So if every child once asked, “why do I care about history,” then: 

  • Why does the average wrestling fan care so much about the past? 
  • Why do people care enough to produce content reliving the past? 
  • Most importantly – Why Should we care about the history of professional wrestling? 

I don’t know all the answers to those questions, but I’m one of those people producing content focused on wrestling history, so I want to know more.

Join me each week as I peel the onion back in this column and try to answer these questions.

Because after all these years, I’m still just a “disaster of the first magnitude” asking the same question: why should we study history. 

Ryan Joy hosts the Daily Wrestling New Show podcast along with John D’Aconti. They’re focused on Teaching, Learning, and Remembering the history of Professional Wrestling with everyone that wants to join them. 

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