PWHS Means to Me: Page Five - Harry Grover
"What does P.W.H.S. mean to you?" It is such a simple question, yet it carries such a complex and personal answer. What can an interest group on social media really mean? After all, isn't social media simply a means of spending leisure time and communicating with others? It's a group dedicated to honoring and preserving the history of an entertainment genre. I mean, in light of world events, scientific discoveries, war; etc.-just how much could something this seemingly trivial mean?
In my case, P.W.H.S. means a great deal. The P.W.H.S. revived my love of the business of wrestling. P.W.H.S. made me a fan again. To me, The Professional Wrestling Historical Society means respect; it means preservation of important things; it means legitimizing what we all have loved at certain times in our lives as something valuable, meaningful and yes-valid. Professional Wrestling. It is neither sport, nor pure entertainment. It is neither theater, nor athleticism. It is in a word: unique. Long derided as a low brow form of entertainment for rubes, yokels, and the microcephalic of our society, if truth be told, professional wrestling encompasses a fan base that reaches all generations; all economic levels; all educational levels. Despite centuries of criticism as something neither real, nor meaningful-professional wrestling has been the most consistent form of sports-based entertainment in the history of the world. After nearly one-half century as a fan of first the presentation itself, and later the business as a whole, I can finally proclaim myself openly as a fan of this great business without fear of recrimination. It's been a long time in coming.
Which brings us back to the topic at hand: Why P.W.H.S. means so much to me. There are dozens of reasons, both large and small, for which I could offer as answer to the original question. However, breaking all of my answers down and ranking them in terms of personal importance, there exist three, chief reasons that can explain what P.W.H.S. means to me. 1. P.W.H.S. preserves, glorifies, and documents a part of my own personal history.
I started watching wrestling in 1968. This was long before all of the instantaneous technology that we take for granted. There was no Internet, no social media, no access to Satellite systems for most people, nor access to cable. Being a fan in 1968 meant that you were a fan of your local territory-which in my case was the WWWF, and later Grand Prix out of Montreal, Quebec. The only access to knowledge of other wrestling happenings came from the magazines. There were a few magazines that presented wrestling as Sports Illustrated would present any of the major league sports. Mostly, however, the wrestling magazines were tabloids with great pictures. The stories and interviews were mostly fabricated, and written at the level that an 8-year-old would not find to be challenging. So, I was a WWWF fan, because the WWWF was the only wrestling that I knew. P.W.H.S helps to stir long forgotten memories; helps me to relive my life by recalling what I was doing during a certain pivotal point in wrestling history. P.W.H.S., in short, keeps my personal history alive by spotlighting the wrestling that I knew and loved.
2. P.W.H.S. preserves a history that is all-too-quickly being ignored and forgotten.
Before wrestling was spelled "WWE", there were dozens of thriving territories around the world that presented wrestling. Without these territories and the wrestlers, promoters and fans that made these territories thrive; there never would have been a "WWE". Wrestling as a sport can be traced to the Ancient Egyptians. Professional wrestling can be documented back to the time of the United States Civil War. Yet, to the average fan of WWE today, none of this is known, broadcast or publicized. Since WWE became the monolith that it is, it has tried to rewrite the history books in the style of WWE, only WWE-and nothing more. To most modern fans, wrestling started with Hulk Hogan in the early-1980's, or perhaps *really* began with the Attitude Era. The fact that WWE promotes such misinformation as fact is not at all surprising or outrageous. To make all new fans believe that there never was wrestling before 1984 is to the WWE's advantage. To make the new fan believe that all matches follow a routine with pretty much the same spots done in the same style all within a 3-7 minute period, again works well as a business model. Unlike so many, embittered and incorrect people with whom I deal on a daily basis-I am not now, nor I never have been a hater of WWE, Vincent Kennedy McMahon or Sports Entertainment. But I am old enough to remember when Vince McMahon didn't run the wrestling world. That fact needs to never be ignored, forgotten or diminished. P.W.H.S. allows people to learn about the wealth, tradition and history that is the business of professional wrestling. It allows a casual fan to learn that Andre the Giant had been bodyslammed, and pinned numerous times before WrestleMania 3. It allows a fan to learn that long before the new millennium, wrestling had national Television coverage, and even a unified World Heavyweight Champion. It allows the fan who has been led to believe that wrestling was "real" back in the day, to discover that wrestling matches have been works since at least 1920. Most importantly, P.W.H.S. keeps the names and memories alive of the men who we cheered and booed, but who have long since been forgotten and dismissed by the current power brokers in the industry. Halls of Fame are nice, but keeping the memory of people who were important to the history of this business alive is far nobler and far more important, in my eyes. Despite occasional pressure from those that simply don't agree with our philosophy or mandate, P.W.H.S. has always stood firm and proud in its dedication to keeping history alive. P.W.H.S. does that day in and day out.
3. P.W.H.S. allows me to have a place where I belong and where I can contribute and learn.
I am a teacher by profession, and also by temperament. Every day, I deal with hundreds of ignorant minds. That is not an insult. We are all ignorant. No one is omniscient. One of the greatest joys of my profession is being able to replace ignorance with knowledge; replace misinformation with fact; help people grow and become better.
P.W.H.S. allows me the same opportunity, but in the case of P.W.H.S., the subject matter is also something that I have loved nearly all my life. Helping others expand their own knowledge of professional wrestling fills me with joy. Being able to pick the brains and memories of others in the group and on the website increases my own knowledge of a subject of which I am still fascinated to this day. It has never been about "Look how smart I am!" for me. It has always been about "Let me tell you about this-isn't it cool?!"
Just as in my daily profession, in P.W.H.S., I do not suffer fools. There is no shame in being ignorant, wrong or even having opposing opinions. But acting like an ass; treating other people with disrespect; insisting that you have clout simply because you "were in de biznezz" is never tolerated at P.W.H.S. Trolls, spammers, and your average jerk never last long in our group-and that I adore about P.W.H.S. The people in P.W.H.S. in general, act the way that everyone in the world should act, but rarely do. I respect all the members of P.W.H.S. for being their best as people, as well as wrestling fans.
Addendum: The Administrative Team
I have never in my life worked with such a disparate, yet unified group of people as I have with the Administrative Team at P.W.H.S. Jimmy Wheeler, in his essay, detailed the very diverse group of individuals that make up our team-and a team it is. Everyone listens respectfully to everyone else-even if they think that their team member is full of crap. All decisions are made after discussion and usually a vote. P.W.H.S. truly has a unified team and I respect each and every member of that team immensely.
Additionally, I have been blessed to be able to know these men as people. Although none of us have ever met as a group, I truly like the people with whom I work at P.W.H.S. It is indeed a labor of love as we are all volunteers in this effort. Some of the Administrative team-such as Barry Rose-I have known for more than a decade in cyberspace. Others I have only recently met, but they are all great human beings. I also lost a friend. The late and (in my eyes) truly great Jim Zordani and I had been cyber buddies for nearly 15 years. One of the last gifts that Jim gave to me before his untimely passing, was an introduction to P.W.H.S. For that, among many other things, I am eternally grateful. Those are some major reasons why P.W.H.S. means so much to me. Thank you for reading!