Professional Wrestling, in its modern form, has been around for nearly a century. In that time the sport has evolved from a carnival sideshow attraction to a major ratings force in television to the most downloaded form of sports in the world.
Naturally, there were dozens, if not hundreds, of spectacular moments in that history. However, there are some snapshots in time that influenced wrestling so greatly it would be hard to imagine how much different the landscape would be without them.
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Here are ten of the most pivotal moments in wrestling history.
#1. Gorgeous George becomes the first wrestling mega-star--by being despised.
George Raymond Wagner was a gifted amateur wrestler who turned his attention to the professional ranks in the post WWII era. Although he had moderate success, and was considered one of the better grapplers of his generation, he craved a higher degree of stardom.
Inspired by a wrestler named Lord Lansdowne, who entered the ring wearing a voluminous robe and accompanied by two lovely women, George decided to craft an even more fabulously entertaining character. After hearing a woman proclaim "oh, he's so gorgeous!" at one his matches, Wagner developed his new persona; Gorgeous George.
With his effeminate mannerisms, curly blonde hair, and penchant for spraying the ring with perfume before he would deign to enter it, George threatened the masculinity of the 1940s and 50s era crowds. He would also play the part of a craven coward, and avoid touching his opponent for the first several minutes of the match. Fans turned out in droves in hopes of seeing the hated Gorgeous George get his comeuppance.
Wagner tapped into Pro Wrestling's entertainment potential, which had waned during the war, and revitalized the sport. Without George, not only would there have been no Nature Boy Ric Flair or Dalton Castle, the entire industry would be starkly different today.