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Real Pro Wrestling - A Return to the Oldest Form Of Hand-to-Hand Combat Known to Man

By Cliff Montgomery,
Doesn't every American male secretly wish that his country's professional form of the wrestling art -- the oldest form of hand-to-hand combat known to man -- had never degenerated into a bunch of fake take-downs, fake throws and 'second winds' from the men who always happen to be the most popular athletes? Doesn't it break your heart to see what had been a respected professional Western martial art form suffer that final slide into straight caricature?

The organizers who promote the 3-year-old 'Real Pro Wrestling' (RPW) clearly feel the same way. Their website (> is one of the finest compendiums of American and World wrestling history and styles currently on the Net; but it also serves to further the true agenda of 'Real Pro Wrestling': the re-creation of a true, no-bullshit American professional wrestling organization.

Founded in 2002, Real Pro Wrestling is based in Ashland City, Tenn. and is the creation of two former Northwestern collegiate wrestling teammates, Toby Willis and Matt Case, and former Olympic hopeful Kenny Johnson.

The league consists of eight teams from around the country made up of seven different weight classes ranging from 55 kg/125 lbs. to 120 kg/250 lbs. Regional teams will include the New York Outrage and Chicago Groove.

RPW is hoping its drive to give dignity back to American professional wrestling will take hold. The three creators have clearly thought through what they're doing, which should spell real success for them. RPW's website possesses an overview of its rules, the guiding principles and styles which make wrestling such a fine sport, a study of American pro wrestling history replete with a discussion of what went wrong and when, and the philosophy and objectives of the true wrestler.

Let's look first at the new sport's 'RPW Rules'. On-site as a series of articles "designed to educate a newbie to the great sport of wrestling as is practiced by RealProWrestling,"they also serve to answer original fans' questions about RPW rules, to aid them in understanding everything they see.

Firstly, it should be noted that RPW is a team sport. Wrestlers not only compete to win individual matches, but are in fact also competing to earn team points. The points from each match are added together, and the highest overall result determines the championship team.

In the future, RPW plans to feature "duel meets between two teams as they go head-to-head at each weight class."

Their website carries an article referring to the few rules peculiar to Real Pro Wrestling, including "Cautions, Injury Time, Blood Time, and the TV Challenge."

But most of the rules which make up the RPW handbook are based on collegiate-style wrestling. There are four primary ways to score, employing the main objective -- "to take one's opponent to the mat and pin...his shoulders to the mat for a fall," and discussions on the point system.

As the site explains it, "[e]ach wrestling style has its own point system to help determine the winner if there is no fall." The matters discussed in individual articles explain each method of scoring: scoring from the feet, scoring from the ground, as well as what is rather teasingly referred to in one section as 'the bonus'.


One of the most interesting aspects of RPW is the sport's willingness to openly discuss the principles of wrestling. The three creators provocatively suggest a "scientific theory...big enough to explain all wrestling no matter your body type or skills," which they boldly refer to as 'maneuver warfare'.

They also discuss those most important of topics, spotting and manipulating weaknesses in your opponent. The men explain the four main principles of Tactics: find, fix, flank, and force. They tell wrestlers how to break down the weaknesses of an opposing wrestler in his stance. They also reveal how to best attack different stances.

On top of this, they devote penetrating articles on their website to several wrestling styles, like catch-as-catch-can, folkstyle, freestyle, Greco-Roman, and good info on Ju-jutsu and its more artistic brother, Judo.


Let's quickly cover what could be something of a nuisance to some of you during your first attempt to maneuver around RPW's otherwise fine website: If you have an older computer which doesn't have Macromedia Flash Player 7.0 installed, you may as well turn the computer off completely, stare at the blank screen and call it a day.

But don't worry: As you probably know Macromedia is a reputable company and its Flash Player 7.0 is available free on its own website, so there should be no hassles if you take a minute to pull down the software before accessing this page.

Now on to all that is admirable here, both with the 'Real Pro Wrestling' Organization and its extremely informative and up-to-the-minute promotional website.


Each week, runs a new article by Mike Chapman, who chronicles a major period of U.S. pro wrestling history. Chapman's columns not only discuss the early days of American professional wrestling, they reveal exactly why professional wrestling by and large became mere caricature, while amateur wrestling in the US continues to thrive to this day.

Among the things discussed in Chapman's essays are how drawn-out matches fought by certain pivotal fighters of the sport changed American pro wrestling in ways the champs could never have imagined.

Of special importance was Earl Caddock, who made the transition from three-time national AAU champion to world heavyweight professional champion on April 9, 1917. Caddock took the "world title from the great Joe Stecher in Omaha. The epic match lasted nearly three hours, with each man winning a pin fall and Stecher declaring he was too exhausted to continue for the third and deciding fall."

Such world heavyweight professional wrestling championship fights could probably never have gone on forever. Though many Olympic champions and medal winners tried their hand at professional wrestling in the early 1920s, which helped bring the amateur and the professional sports closer together again, the fix seemed to be in.

As Chapman tells it, "[w]ith the advent of theatrical moves such as flying tackles, drop kicks and body blocks," American professional wrestling began turning away from its true origins as a very respected and very real sport of achievement.

"In addition," he finishes succinctly, "pre-arranged matches, called 'working matches' or just 'works', took center stage and true contests began to fade from the scene." According to Chapman, by the 1930s a full 95% of wrestling matches were pre-arranged.


The people of RPW also have a provocative section of their website for the more reflective among us. Discussing the basic philosophy underlying man's reasons to compete on this most personal of levels -- both friendly and not-so-friendly -- can be an engrossing subject, especially when in the hands of those who are serious in asking why we do what we do. A fun and interesting matter, told in fun and interesting ways.

Among the articles are those defining wrestling as the 'Sport of War', the 'Sport of Nature', and even the 'Sport of Life', with its special mixture of the "Intuitive and the Complex."

Real Pro Wrestling calls its martial art the best "test of strength, technique, conditioning, and courage." With such an organization to make the case, few would disagree.

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