For this week’s column, I’m going to borrow from Post correspondent David Hunter’s Jan. 16 article, “Lawler, Mantell return for match of the century.”
In his nostalgic, well-written piece, Hunter mentioned Jerry “The King” Lawler would be going up against “Superstar” Bill Dundee, a feud/comaraderie that dates back to 1975, and the referee would be Murfreesboro native, and wrestling legend, “Dirty” Dutch Mantell on Saturday, Jan. 29 at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds in Nashville.
(NOTE: This match, along with others, is billed as “[Tribute] to the Fairgrounds,” to “be the final professional wrestling event ever at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds.” The purposed closing of the Fairgrounds, by Nashville lawmakers, has been, and continues to be, a subject of great debate.)
As a young boy — early to mid ’60s, in particular — I remember that many of the local men would sit glued to the television set on Saturday afternoon watching, what they termed as, “rasslin’,” live from the Hippodrome in Nashville.
As promoters along the lines of Nick Gulas and Roy Welch talked up the matches, the “good guys” battled the “bad guys” inside the ring, or, sometimes, the “cage.”
While Jerry “The King” Lawler, “Superstar” Bill Dundee, and “Dirty” Dutch Mantell do have a familiar ring, the following names, too, come to mind: Len Rossi, Tojo Yamamoto, “Haystack” Calhoun, “Gentleman” Saul Weingroff and Jackie Fargo.
And, indeed, it is rasslin’ legend Jackie Fargo whom I intend to focus on here. Better yet, the near hysteria he caused when displaying, inside the ring, his timelessly legendary “Fargo Strut”!
Short, stocky — but physically impressive — Jackie Fargo, also known as the “Fabulous One,” was tattooed and had this long shock of blond hair (bleached, I’m sure, if the truth could be revealed).
With a stiff upper lip, reminiscent of Elvis, and a swaggering attitude, Fargo fought his way up through the ranks, starting out as a bad guy and eventually converting over to a good guy — and going back-and-forth from time-to-time.
For me, Jackie Fargo epitomized the true “barroom brawler.”
The thing, however, that I most fondly recall concerning Jackie Fargo was his signature move: the “Fargo Strut.”
Here’s how it went down:
Jackie would be slugging it out with his opponent.
At some point during the match, Jackie’s foe would be getting the better of him.
The opponent would proceed to take Fargo by the arm and sling him into the ropes, which, in turn, would propel him back towards the opponent, who was waiting to finish off Fargo with a “clothesline” (stiff arm to the head or neck).
However, five to six steps before reaching his opponent’s outstretched arm, Fargo would stop abruptly, make eye contact with the audience, then cast a cocky smirk at his foe, and “strut” around the ring, shaking his hips in a slow, suggestive manner.
I’m here to tell you that the audience — live and via television — went stone-cold crazy!
I’m talking about grown men and women rushing up to the ring, rushing up to, and turning over, television sets; and religious, Bible-Belt folks condemning Fargo’s gyrations as “vulgar,” that it shouldn’t be allowed on television. (NOTE: Some of the gals who dance in rap videos could take some lessons from the “Fargo Strut.”)
Regardless, the “Fargo Strut” became a sensation of its own, and I, personally, am convinced that it was responsible for catapulting Jackie Fargo from everyday, run-of-the-mill “rassler” to nationally known superstar.
When Jackie Fargo was inducted into the NWA Wrestling Hall of Heroes in 2009, he walked across the stage doing, yep, the “Fargo Strut.”
I would’ve enjoyed being there and watching him do that.
By: Gman1 on 1/31/11
This is my favorite Vinson artcile, Vinson 'strutted' his stuff talking about Jackie Fargo and the Fargo Strut. And he went to the trouble of telling readers how they can see it for theirselves, a big help to people like me that don't know a lot about the internet.
By: canalou on 1/31/11
Great column...if I could at my age, I'd strut after reading this....
By: caveman on 1/31/11
Since I was 16 tears old I've been watching pro-rasslin and by the time I was 50 I still remember the name of different moves. Thank you for keeping me in the mood.
By: songwriterdad on 2/1/11
very interesting, this is a bit before my time but thanks for the history lesson Mike! Great stuff! I remember the guy who always wore a skirt. What was his name?
By: squeaks on 2/4/11
Rowdy Rodney Piper wore a kilt.