I am not a wrestling historian, let me establish that first.
However, during the three decades I've been a wrestling fan, I've always had a deep appreciation for the rich and fascinating history of this "sport." Whether it's the kayfabed version of wrestling history that hooked me as a youth or the revelation several years later that there was another, much more factual (yet far less prevalent) version of that same history, the topic has always appealed to me on many levels. Consequently, over the decades, I've learned a great deal about the history of professional wrestling, by watching it every week for close to thirty years, reading volumes of material on the topic, occasionally being around wrestlers, and exploring any other avenue I could in order to gain knowledge about the history of pro wrestling.
Idiot savant, or just a really dedicated fan? Probably a little of both...
In any case, when I first came online in the mid-nineties, I was monumentally disappointed when I discovered the lack of information regarding the history of wrestling on the "information highway." It's much better now than in `95, and there are many good history-related wrestling sites today. But at that time, there was virtually nothing. Furthermore, essentially every fan I encountered (or at least the vast majority) knew little, if anything, about wrestling's rich past. So, I decided to do something about it, and as part of my old website (TRC Online) I created an online Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame, which has evolved into the site you are now visiting. Now, several years later, the TRC Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame has found a new home at the Professional Wrestling Online Museum.
The idea behind the TRC Hall of Fame was, and is, simply to pay homage to some very important, often unsung figures from wrestling's past, and at the same time, to create a place where online fans could see & learn about (perhaps for the first time ever) these trend-setting performers from decades past.
This online Hall of Fame is a shrine to wrestling's past and the men who paved the way, not a historically water-tight reference tool. As I mentioned earlier, there are two versions of wrestling history...and both are, in one form or another, true. Pro wrestling is a truly unique animal, and the aura, persona, and at times folklore-ish qualities created by the "worked" version of wrestling history are every bit as legitimate as the factual version. In most cases, it helped make the wrestler into who he (or she) was.
For example, Bruno Sammartino wasn't really a national household name during his prime. But, he was an incredibly popular wrestler in a large portion of the country, the most popular ever up to that point, and as a result of that extraordinary popularity, fans who weren't able to see him wrestle still knew of his reputation. Eventually, by virtue of the hype (from announcers, magazines, etc.) the fantasy becomes reality. So, we have Bruno, not a legitimate household name, but by virtue of the legend surrounding him, he in a sense becomes one because the fans believed what they were told repeatedly; that Bruno is The Living Legend, and every person, not just wrestling fans, on the East Coast knows who he is. The two versions of reality inter-twine, and become a questionable, but legitimate, psuedo-reality.
The story of the wrestler, who he was, especially in the past, is linked directly to the un-truths that were fed to the public during and after his career in the "sport." In many cases, separating the fact from the fiction leaves you with no wrestler at all, because without one, the other seems kind of meaningless.
Welcome to the wonderful world of pro wrestling history.
When writing these Hall of Fame biographies, I realized that to discard all "kayfabe" references would only be telling half of the story. So, I just concentrated on telling the story of the wrestler, and then tried to include as much factual, historically documented information as possible at the same time. I write this as a type of disclaimer, a way to avoid potential emails from "purist" fans of wrestling history who may want to clue me in on what I already realize.
I know that "only" 78,000 people -- and not 93,000, as the legend goes -- packed the Pontiac Silverdome to see Andre battle Hogan at WrestleMania III. But, the story, the legend (and now, in many ways, the reality, since its been repeated so often for so long) says that there was 93,000 there that day. So, to not mention the 93,000 figure when writing Andre's bio would not be telling the entire "truth," just like disregarding Bruno's over-hyped legend would be to ignore a large part of who he truly was.
Just like the wrestlers (and pro wrestling itself), these Hall of Fame biographies occasionally walk the fine line between what is "true" and the truth. But unlike the business, I tried to make it clear to the reader what was real and what was not "real," and more importantly, to give the reader an entertaining recap of the particular wrestler's career.
In other words, this page may not feature the whole truth, but at the same time, it's nothing but the truth.
Get it? Got it? Good...
Thanks for visiting!
- Steve Slagle, creator of
"The TRC Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame"