9 years ago983 views
As professional wrestling entered the mid 20th century, promoters and performers looked for ways to heighten audience excitement. Blood was found to be a surefire seller, and the advent of the now-cliché "no holds barred" match marked the beginning of what is now known as hardcore wrestling. Wrestlers such as "Classy" Freddie Blassie, Dory Funk Sr. and Giant Baba were among those who introduced a bloody brawling style which caught on in Japan and the American South. New match types were devised that took wrestling beyond a sporting contest and closer to street fighting, such as matches which were held in a cage, Texas Death matches which incorporated weapons, and Lights Out matches which were 'unsanctioned' and took place after the rest of the scheduled card, once the house lights had briefly been turned off to signify the end of the event. The National Wrestling Alliance had Brass Knuckles championships in the Florida and Texas territories, dating from the 1950s. (The Texas title was taken by World Class Championship Wrestling when it split away.)
Brawling continued to evolve and grow in popularity in America through the 60s, 70s and 80s. The Detroit territory was home to The Sheik, Abdullah the Butcher and Bobo Brazil, and featured long, bloody brawls. The Puerto Rico territory featured Carlos Colon, The Invader and Abdullah, and introduced fire as an element of violence. The Memphis territory featured Jerry Lawler, Terry Funk, Eddie Gilbert and Bill Dundee and introduced the empty arena match and fighting among the crowd into the concession stands, improvising attacks with whatever appliances could be found.