I’ve always been a man of pretty simple tastes.
For the better part of 32 years, I wanted a time machine — which certainly doesn’t sound like the wish of someone with “simple tastes,” but it’s what I would have done with that time machine that would have set me part from most, who likely would have used it for purposes of greed, avarice or other morally bankrupt purposes.
I didn’t want to go back in time and make millions betting on sporting events. I didn’t want to go back to the signing of the Declaration of Independence. I didn’t want to go back in time and meet my parents as teenagers. Heck, I didn’t even want to go back and do something to try to change humanity for the better.
I just wanted to go back to October 23, 1983 to see professional wrestlers “Mad Dog” Buzz Sawyer and “Wildfire” Tommy Rich fight in Atlanta’s Omni in “The Last Battle of Atlanta.”
See what I mean? Simple minds, simple pleasures
More than 30 years later, this remains the greatest and most violent feud in the history of professional wrestling. For two entire years, those two crazy sons of guns spilled blood seven nights a week across the South.
People have gone to jail for less than what they did to one another voluntarily.
It all culminated in one match, inside a steel cage with a roof on top.
It would be the final match the two ever wrestled. That was one of the stipulations. And in a sport in which stipulations are generally as thin and flimsy as the paper on which they are written, they held true to their promise.
They raised violence to an absolute art form. It remains one of the most beautiful and influential moments of my childhood. I was fortunate enough to have seen them wrestle one another at Hobart Arena as a fourth grader and was captivated by the sheer brutality of their match. To me, it was almost poetic.
But it still wasn’t the same as being there in the Omni (which no longer exists) seeing “The Last Battle of Atlanta.”
And I couldn’t watch it on television or even the internet, either. For 32 years, it was believed no videotape of the match existed. According to urban legend, former wrestling promoter Ole Anderson destroyed the tapes of this match to ensure World Wrestling Entertainment impresario Vince McMahon could never get his hands on them.
It remained a phantasm, something talked about in hallowed whispers by old-time wrestling fans. But only those in attendance that night could ever really knew the truth.
My heart ached as I had given up all hope of ever seeing this legendary match. Until last weekend, that is, when the WWE announced it had found footage of this match and would begin broadcasting it on its website beginning Tuesday.
I literally started crying when I read of this revelation. I’m guess that to just about all of you, this seems like a pretty silly reaction … and you probably are right. But you know what? Everyone has things in their life that give them a reason to get up in the morning and survive the daily drudgery that life can often provide.
For me, those two things have, for as long as I can remember, been pro wrestling and high school football. And you know what? I remain unapologetic in my passion for those two things. So what if finding a long-lost pro wrestling match was enough to reduce me to tears?
Does that make me a bad person?
Imagine if you were a golf fanatic who spent your entire life playing golf every day at local municipal courses … then one day got to play Augusta.
Or imagine if you were a car enthusiast who was one day given a chance to drive a Ferrari on an empty highway with no speed limit.
Or what if you were a lifelong artist who was one day whisked away to the interior of the Sistine Chapel?
That’s what this was like for me. Some of you I’m certain find it silly, but this was something I had been dreaming about since I was 10.
Tuesday morning, I sat in front of my laptop after eating breakfast and began watching the match I had dreamed of seeing for so long. Was it the greatest wrestling match I’ve ever seen? No, it wasn’t. It was, however, the greatest wrestling match I had never seen.
And for that, I am grateful. Because you know what? Sometimes it is the simple things in life we take for granted … whether it be the perfectly brewed cup of coffee, our kids getting an “A” on a big test, not getting stuck in traffic on the way to work or a beautiful sunset.
Or, sometimes, seeing a pro wrestling match you’ve been waiting your whole life to see.
Troy’s very own David Fong appears on Thursdays in the Troy Daily News. Contact him at [email protected]; follow him on Twitter @thefong