A Mark’s Eye View is a weekly look at some of the things that made me a huge fan of professional wrestling.
I have talked about the importance of the Apter mags in previous columns and on Leaving a Mark, my new YouTube show where I talk about old school wrestling. They taught me the history of professional wrestling and introduced me to territories that I could not see anywhere else. I also learned about wrestlers that were obviously big names. Jerry Lawler, Austin Idol, and Blackjack Mulligan were put over huge in Pro Wrestling Illustrated and its family. I saw them occasionally, but it was the publications that made them superstars to me.
Mr. Wrestling II was one of those wrestlers.
Wrestling II had a distinctive look: Simple white trunks, white boots, and a white mask. He was instantly recognizable, and in a time where it was exciting to see what gear your favorites would wear to the ring, II never changed it up. (On a side note, I miss the days when wrestlers would wear different trunks to the ring. There are still some who change it up, but once Hulk Hogan went exclusively to the yellow and red, it seemed like everyone wanted to be associated with one look.)
By the time I had started watching, Wrestling II’s time had come and gone — I missed his Mid-South run by about a year. He was no longer mentioned on NWA television. He never did anything to warrant being talked about on WWF TV.
Years later, whenever someone would execute a knee lift, Jim Ross would referred to it as a Mr. Wrestling II-like knee lift. PWI would also occasionally mention him. He main evented territories around the country. This was somewhat sad to me as he was so old. (Little did I know this would be the template for the modern day WWE main event.)
I never got a chance to see Wrestling II in the moment. Still, I had a healthy respect of him due to the coverage he received. As I got older, the moniker would live on through the men like Kevin Steen and Steve Corino. (It is a great nickname.)
I do have one very vivid memory of Wrestling II. During my tape trading days I would occasionally ask for Mid-South stuff, and one of the things that I got was a compilation on the Wrestling II-Magnum T.A. feud. As with pretty much everything in Mid-South, this angle was awesome.
Wrestling II had been a face his entire career. He took on the up and coming Magnum and the two quickly became a successful team. Before long they would win the Mid-South tag belts. Of course, things were not as great as they seemed on the surface.
It was a fairly common angle made great by the performances. Wrestling II was the old legend unwilling to give ground to Magnum. To his credit, T.A. did not want to take the spotlight from his mentor. It was obvious something was going to give. But would II become bitter and snap or would Magnum crumble under the abuse?
Things played out as expected. The Midnight Express got involved and Wrestling II ended up being the one who turned. I knew little about II but was still impressed by the powerful angle. It is my fondest memory of Mr. Wrestling II and it was after the fact, but it made me wish I had seen the man in his prime.
Next week: The best hillbilly gimmicks!
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