Jimmy Golden and Golden Corral

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 14, 2005

Explosions. Blinding lights. Loud music. That is just the beginning of the staggering array of events that bombard the viewer in today's wrestling arena. With Vince McMahon's World Wrestling Federation, wrestling fans can get more than they ever bargained for in high-tech wrestling moves, along with plenty of scantily-clad women and an overall soap opera line that makes Marlena's demonic possession on "Days of Our Lives" seem like tiddlywinks.

There are those who won't give wrestling the time of day, those who catch up on the story lines and the newest faces from time to time, and there are those who follow every single move that happens. And, there are those who believe it is real.

Before WWF and Triple H spewing water all over himself, before Smackdown and RAW, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and the Rock not caring what your name was, there was Jimmy Golden, Ron Bass, the Fabulous Freebirds and the "Tennessee Stud" Ron Fuller.

In the 70s and 80s, every Saturday evening at 5, Channel 4 out of Dothan broadcast that week's wrestling matches. I could be found with my best friend, Lynn Duncan, sprawled out in the middle of Mr. and Mrs. John Duncan's living room floor eating macaroni and cheese and yelling at the TV. So much for sophistication, style and grace. But, boy, was it fun. Mr. John would prop up in his lounge chair and laugh. I still don't know how much of that laughter was directed at the wrestling matches or at us.

The entire purpose of wrestling is to entertain, and that objective hasn't changed over the years. Of course, the atmosphere itself is entirely different.

From the Dothan station, one saw a small, dimly lit wrestling ring, one that sounded hollow, as if it would really sting when you hit the mat. Every now and then, they probably used some dry ice to produce a small cloud of smoke whenever Nature Boy Ric Flair came out, parading around wearing a glittery cape and shaking his bleached white hair. Of course, you had to pull for the good guys, as long as they were good. They would switch sides, from good guys to bad guys and vice versa, just like anyone else changes socks. But, that's part of the fun.

Jimmy Golden always wore his red leotard, Dennis Condrey and Randy Rose were most always a team, and Stan Lane and Rick Gibson were always cute. However, with the entrance of Michael Hayes, Terry Gordy and Buddy Roberts, the "Fabulous Freebirds" were always a hit. These "bad" guys, with their long hair and flashy outfits, brought a whole new dimension to wrestling, as well as to the fans. There's something about the bad guys you love to hate.

All of these wrestlers, plus Bob Armstrong and his son Brad, bad boy Ron Bass, and the Junkyard Dog could be seen at South Butler Academy's gymnasium and at the Greenville High School stadium. And, on most Monday afternoons, they could be found eating at the Golden Corral Steakhouse here in Greenville, where I waited tables while attending college. Russell Stover is presently located where Golden Corral used to be.

These days, I doubt very seriously if we would see Kurt Angle, Triple H, Hulk Hogan (who's been around as long as Casey Kasem), Stone Cold Steve Austin, Lita or Vince McMahon eating every other Monday afternoon here in Greenville, but it certainly would bring the entire arena back down to earth again.

Regina Grayson is a reporter with the Greenville Advocate.

She can be reached at 334-383-9302, ext. 126 or via e-mail at regina.grayson@greenvilleadvocate.com.