I have been working on this article for awhile, so I just about started crying when vkimo mentioned wrestling in his last article, but since this subject was only briefly talked about, I'd like to go more in depth. All of us did some sort of wrestling when we were kids. Whether it was imitating moves from television, play fighting, or just rough housing, we all did it. I want to go into my glory days of being a basement wrestler.
I am an 80's child, so I grew up with the fan favorites like Macho Man and Ultimate Warrior. But to be honest, I was more of a kung-fu kid, and liked to do play karate more than wrestling. But that doesn't mean my jaw didn't drop when I saw my first home made ring. One corner of my friend's basement was sectioned off to make a wrestling ring. Four brooms were duck taped to the wall with jump ropes tied together connecting the sticks. In the middle, carefully placed couch cushions. I think it's safe to say this was the coolest thing I've ever seen. We only wrestled around for a little while before I had to leave, and the next time I visited, it had been torn down, but that was the start of my love of basement wrestling.
I was a teenager in the mid-nineties and that's when we really kicked it up a notch. I had fallen out of watching wrestling, as I believe many others did. So Vince McMahon put a whole new spin on wrestling and again me and all my friends were addicted. New flashy wrestlers with crazy personalities and sweet finishing moves came to us every Monday night. They would give us many new moves to are growing arsenal of ways to hurt each other.
First the classics. If any of you are little brothers I'm sure at one point in your life, you've been put in the sharpshooter. For those who haven't, it's not fake. That sucker hurts! The bottom person has to be somewhat willing to be put in it, but someone more powerful than you can still force it. This is such a great move because it doesn't require a lot of space, and you can really give it to someone. This is one of the first moves I learned to put a guy in.
Right behind that, was the sleeper. This is way more deadly. If you are not careful, you can really hurt a person with this move. A very common choke hold, I remember the Million Dollar Man doing this one more than anyone else.
And of course, the couch leg drop or elbow drop. If nothing else, this was an excuse to jump off the top of the couch. Cushions should be placed carefully though, or like always, someone will get hurt and start to cry. Elbow dropping someone lying on cushions was our way of being nice.
But as we got older, and stronger, our moves became more elaborate. Now that I think back, I am very grateful that I can still walk. Because we starting pile driving each other. Again, we would do this onto a couch cushion, but if someone's head was too far down, you'd still hear CLUNK as head smashed into basement floor.
Now that we could lift each other, anything was possible. Even though I'm smaller, I love to gorilla press people. I remember I was at a dance while camping at a Jellystone, I saw a cute girl and asked if I could gorilla press her. Wait, the weird thing is she let me. I was just that into wrestling that my pick up line was, "Can I gorilla press you?"
For those that couldn't quite do the press, there was always the rack. You just had a person resting on your shoulders and you would shake them up and down. It's always best to get somebody in this move right after they have eaten.
Now I want to bring it back to some of those fancy moves I was talking about earlier. I'm not sure who gets the credit for doing this first, but thank you inventor of the power bomb! Man I love this move! Again, the person being put in this move has to be somewhat willing, but picking someone up and slamming them to the ground is a blast! It just looks so cool, and if you do it right, doesn't really hurt that much. Because I was one of the smaller guys in our wrestling group, I was a favorite to be power bombed. Whatever. I made it look cool though. The person should jump a little bit to help the thrower, the more height, the cooler it looks. But you better believe that at every family function any little cousin that came within a 3ft radius of me had a power bomb coming.
I'm sure most of you remember Razor Ramone, his end move of course being, the razor's edge. Basically, one guy has his arms out and gets lifted back to back by the other guy. We had to stop doing this move because people's head's were hitting the ceiling and no matter how soft you tried to do this move, someone slammed into the ground hard. A yell would come from upstairs, "Quit shaking the whole house!" Whether or not the person was alright isn't important here, gotta think about the foundation of the house.
Did a lot of you play NCW vs. NWO for 64? Good, then you remember a wrestler named Wrath. He wasn't in wrestling very long but he had an awesome finishing move. The meltdown. To be honest, it's a glorified body slam, but it just looks so cool. The guy being put in it is bent over at the waist. The person doing the move holds the victims left wrist with his right, through the legs. The throwers left arm goes under the right shoulder, and over the neck. You then lift the person off the ground (mostly by their nuts since their hand is between their legs) spinning them 270 degrees onto your shoulder. From there, it's just a body slam, but the whole thing done quickly is very cool to see.
But we didn't stop at hurting each other with just wrestling moves, oh no. They used weapons on tv, so that means you use weapons in the basement.
If any of you have been hit with a folding chair, you know that it smarts. We didn't use these for very long because the chance of someone bleeding or getting really hurt was just too much. But tv trays filled the void. The thin aluminum kind was the best. You could really whack somebody with this and it wouldn't hurt. Plus it would sound hard core. Getting thrown off the ropes (the couch) and come crashing into a tray in the middle of the forehead, man I miss Monday nights.
The last and most important part of basement wrestling, the home made belt. I'm a bit ashamed of this, but I never won the belt with my group of friends and so, I don't really remember it. But I'm betting a lot of you had your own and I'd love to hear about them. The starter belt would be made from cardboard of course. CHAMPION in black magic marker on the front of it. Some of you might have had the toy belts which were better, but you still should have put your own title on it. The one we had was pretty flashy. It was made from a toy belt, but had some pizzazz added to it. Again, I wish I could remember more, but when you won the belt, you took it home and kept it there until you lost it. It wasn't in public very much.
Before I end this article I'd like to go into a couple variations of basement wrestling. Some moves just didn't work well in a basement for whatever reason, so you would have to go somewhere else.
Slamming moves were best on a trampoline. The razor's edge was quickly moved to trampolines after being banned from basements. It was really neat too watch someone get slammed and then go flying back up in the air. Power bombs were great on trampolines too. And if the thrower knew how to do it right, you could get a little extra boost. If you jump at just the right time and land a split second before the person getting power bombed hits the trampoline, they get launched even higher. That's what we would call the extra boost, launching. It was also fun to gorilla press someone and then slam them down onto the trampoline. The only thing with wrestling on trampolines, is it almost always ended up a king of the mountain sort of game. The last one to get thrown off won.
Water is probably the best place to practice your moves. There's virtually no chance of getting hurt, although you'll get your fair share of water up your nose. One move we left pretty much for water was the suplex. But if the person throwing didn't get his balance right away, the person going up had to keep their head underwater for a while. Then once you're up, you'd try and hold it as long as you can and then come crashing into the water. Then Goldberg came. That thick-legged monster gave us a great new move, the jackhammer. Pretty much a suplex, but instead of letting gravity pull you into the water, you throw the person down as hard as you can and land on top of them, sweetness.
For the advanced, or stupid, I don't know which, you could do moves off of piers. My buddy and I would do this all the time. I was the little guy getting thrown into the water of course, so I trusted him with my safety. We started with the gorilla press. Standing on a two foot wide wet slippery surface? Sure I'll let you pick me up over your head. So now I'm suspended over 6ft in the air, from a good 4ft drop. It hurt a little on the landing, but the standing ovation from strangers was always enough to make me want to do it again. Our finishing move was the razor's edge. But since there was a slight time delay, it gave me time to flip in the air. So instead of smashing onto my back, I'd gracefully slip into the water feet first. Well, maybe gracefully isn't the right word, but it was much better than hitting shoulders first from the drop.
Well, that's my basement wrestling article. It was a blast to write and remember all of the good times. I hope to have brought some memories to some of you out there. As we get older, we, I at least am becoming more brittle. Can't quite do all the things I used to do, but thinking about basement wrestling makes me smirk and give an evil chuckle and that's nearly as good.