Even in 1848 when the first wrestling troupe was formed in France by Jean Exbroyat (who issued the headline challenge) the name of the game was "entertainment".
On drizzly Saturday afternoons in the 1950s, with no alternative way to avoid homework, sometimes I'd be forced to watch the wrestling and listen to the lugubrious Kent Walton.
It took me a while to realise that it was just that - entertainment but highly skilled and risky entertainment, exemplified by the comic Les Kellett and later Big Daddy. The Saturday afternoon TV slot raised Professional Wrestling to unprecedented heights so by the mid 60s the dominant Joint Promotions was running some 4500 shows a year across the country.
The lifeline of Professional Wrestling is like a long-term love affair with the public - hot and cold, up and down; currently it's hot, thanks again to ITV and WWE.
I still don't know whether the big fights - the title fights - are serious, so I put the question to Michael Chase. A successful wrestler himself, Michael founded Reckless Intent, Lothian's foremost Pro Wrestling School, in 2012, with some grant aid from the Prince's Trust.
He explains that the choreography and pre-arranged outcome of wrestling bouts all the way to world title level, is an open secret. Only youngsters believe and eventually they get wise just as they do to Father Christmas.
"It's all about creating drama, personalities for the audience to love and hate, heroes and villains. We aim to transport people away from their problems and into a fantasy world for a few hours." His school boasts three high-profile coaches: Michael, Jam O'Malley and ICW star, Chris Renfrew. There are regular coaching sessions for juniors (10-15) and adults (16+), also fitness and personal training sessions.
28 year old Michael aims to produce the talent for his wrestling shows from the school and so far so good. Watch especially for Jack Morris and Theo Doros from the 25 on the books, who travel up to 50 miles for Michael's sophisticated, demanding, high-intensity training and coaching. He sets a high bar, with zero tolerance of substance abuse, slacking and ill-discipline.
He's desperate for his pupils to reach the heights denied him by a spate of injuries. Reckless Intent runs monthly shows at the Murieston Scout Hall in Livingston plus other shows across Central Scotland.
Michael makes it abundantly clear that wrestling is a tough and dangerous game. Wrestlers suffer inevitable pain and injury but for those with the requisite determination, strength, resilience and aptitude there's a good living to be made. He's shooting for the stars and hopes one day to see a pupil wearing a Championship belt but first he's laying strong foundations.
Now what's 500 francs in sterling after 170 years inflation?
Bring it on Jean!
Murieston Scout Hall shows 2019
Trainee events from the Reckless Intent Pro Wrestling School
Mid April - Tbc
Full schedule at www.reckless-intent.com
Published in Konect December 2018
Author: David Levin