13 August 2014

[PDX] Joe Vithayathil: The Latter-Day Frank Bonnema

Old-school Portlandia, pure and simple.

Those of you who have any recollection about Back-in-the-Day around these parts know about Portland Wrestling. You are no doubt aware of modern pro-wrestling, with its flash and gloss and pyrotechnics, and its acknowledgement of kayfabe-as-dramatic-storyline.

I can't really get into it. I remember pro-wrestling as-it-was … regional circuits, a working-man's pastime at the fairground or at the armory, and every week, without fail, on KPTV-12, late at night on Saturday … it was Portland Wrestling. It was the kind of show that your babysitter would let you stay up much later than you should be (and don't tell Mom) to watch. Hailing from the Portland Sports Arena (which was a converted bowling alley, I'm told, up on North Chautauqua Blvd), we got a weekly diet of Tom Peterson Xonix TVs, Playboy Buddy Rose, Rowdy Roddy Piper when he was comin' up … and Frank Bonnema.

He didn't host Portland Wrestling. He was Portland Wrestling.

Joe Vithayathil, a/k/a Joe V, KPTV's feature reporter, is also a wrestling geek from 'way back. He is right now living the dream. He hosted the recent re-incarnation of Portland Wrestling, known as Portland Wrestling Uncut, which has been on hiatus for far too long. And he's still working it … we understand that he's debuted a book about Lynn Denton.

Those of you suitably informed will know this man as THE GRAPPLER:
Yours truly is the author (well, co-author technically) of Grappler: Memoirs of a Masked Madman. It’s the autobiography of my good friend Lynn Denton, better known to the pro wrestling world as “The Grappler”. As I have discussed before on this blog, I was a wrestling nerd for decades, dating all the way back to the mid-80s. In 2012, a childhood dream came true (at the age of 36) when I was given the opportunity to work on a local wrestling show with Lynn- who everyone calls Lenny- and WWE Hall of Famer Roddy Piper. I became close with both men, and it was clear to me that Lenny had a story to share with the world.
Like I said, livin' the dream.

Joe has a blog posting up about it all here: http://gdojoe.wordpress.com/2014/08/10/look-ma-i-wrote-a-book/.  He's working hard at following in the footsteps of Bonnema, and while they broke the mold when they made that guy. I'd say Joe has the passion to make himself the modern-day image of the man.

As Katherine Dunn proved, writing about warriors in the squared circle can be seen as poetry on its own. I certainly wish the best for this effort.

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