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Mickey Rourke and The Nature Boy: Pro Wrestling and The Oscars

Posted: Feb 20, 2009

I am more excited than usual about this year’s Oscars, for several reasons, but the primary reason is the one movie that just blew me out of the water lately. That movie was the low budget drama The Wrestler.

The Wrestler succeeds on many levels, as a love story, as a story of an underdog, a sort of “Rocky of the Squared Circle.”

It's the story of “The Ram,” played with conviction by Mickey Rourke, and co-starring Marisa Tomei as his aging stripper girlfriend. It’s a great film. Rourke won the Golden Globe for best actor, and I hope he gets the Oscar. Marisa is also in the running for Best Supporting Actress, and she sure gets my vote.

The great thing about the movie for me is knowing from whence the whole sport was born. I mean, it can be traced all the way back to the 1880’s, but the real “golden age” came during the 1950’s, ‘60’s and ‘70’s. It all started with Gorgeous George, and amazing  wrestlers like Argentina Rocca, who I remember being my Dad’s hero. Later I would enjoy Aregentina Apollo during the sixties, along with countless other stars.

The seventies were filled with wrestling matches, as I watched Mid Atlantic Wrestling on TV and live at Greenville Memorial Auditorium. Great wrestlers like Andre The Giant, Blackjack Mulligan, Ernie Ladd, and Ox Baker were among the stars I enjoyed watching in the ring. Two of those late seventies (and eighties)  stars that I saw a lot, and I mean a lot, were Charlotte, NC native Ric Flair and Canadian (no, he wasn’t from Scotland) Rowdy Roddy Piper. How ironic that they are the two Mickey Rourke thanked on TV one night for all their support of his film. No doubt Roddy and Nature Boy showed Rourke a former pro-boxer, a few tricks.

While Rourke plays a 1980’s era wrestling star similar to Hunk Hogan or Bill Goldberg, my mind kept flashing back to Flair, or Superfly Jimmy Snuka, another wrestler who ended many a match with an acrobatic dive from the top ropes. Ah yes, great memories.

Well, we’ll see how it shakes out at the Oscars. I just know I will be cheering Rourke and Tomei from my sofa here in Carolina. I’m sure Flair and Piper will be too.

Keep it Real. Keep it Southern.



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