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Pro wrestling today is much different than the pro wrestling of 30 years ago. These days, the wrestling and the storylines that surround it are a little more family friendly, more politically correct, less reliant on cliched characters, and less obvious about who’s a babyface (a good guy) and a heel (a bad guy).
It’s less hokey today and, maybe, a little less fun.
But if you watched wrestling in the 1980s when the landscape was littered with regional territories, you got the clichés, you got the cringe-worthy—and oftentimes, offensive—trash talking, and you got the cornball aspect of paying good money to watch giant men pretend to beat each other up.
And though the WWE, by virtue of the fact that it’s the most successful wrestling company ever to be created, sets the trends for each era of pro wrestling—from the Attitude era of the late 1990s and early 2000s to the current-day Reality era—Vince McMahon’s creation can still poke fun at the business and the history behind it.
That’s why the WWE—which will showcase Wrestlemania 33 on Sunday—has created a webseries, Southpaw Regional Wrestling, that reminds us of what old-time wrestling used to look like.
As the WWE explains in its first episode, an old VHS tape, with the label “Southpaw Regional Wrestling (Don’t Tape Over!!)” was recently found in the company’s archives, and on it, there is one month of storylines from the (fake) renegade wrestling promotion. The tape is from 1987, and it’s where you find goodies like this.
The series stars include current-day WWE wrestlers Luke Gallows (playing Tex Ferguson), Karl Anderson (Chad 2Badd), John Cena (announcer Lance Catamaran), and Chris Jericho (interviewer Clint Bobski), and it’s filled with wrestling gimmicks and storylines that we just don’t see anymore. The synthesizer-based music is wonderful, the editing is terrible, and the graphics are other-worldly (if you, in fact, lived in this world in the 1980s).
In episode 2, pay particular attention to the accent of Big Bart, who’s supposed to be playing a southern farmer but who is actually being portrayed by current-day WWE wrestler Rusev—who happens to be Bulgarian with a Bulgarian accent.
Unfortunately for anybody who’s invested nearly a half-hour in watching the webseries, it doesn’t look like we’re going to get to see the results of the Lethal Leap Year show that was scheduled for Feb. 29, 1987 at the County Fairgrounds. Ah, it’s just as well. The year 1987 wasn’t actually a leap year, anyway.
Josh Katzowitz is a staff writer at the Daily Dot specializing in YouTube and boxing. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times. A longtime sports writer, he's covered the NFL for CBSSports.com and boxing for Forbes. His work has been noted twice in the Best American Sports Writing book series.