reggie "da crusher" lisowski, blue-collar wrestling hero of the upper midwest, died this week at 79. crusher did time as a bricklayer and in milwaukee packing houses and forges before getting paid as a wrestler. he was a great villain, but lacked the exotic gimmicks of the masked wrestlers (dr. x), axis power wrestlers (baron von raschke), and behemoths (andre the giant). instead, he was the beer drinking tough at the end of the bar with the short temper and the twinkle in his eye. not surprisingly, his act aged well and his fan base was loyal to the end. as kids we would act out the saturday morning awa bouts in the hidden space between two houses on ruby drive. i'd climb a redwood fence and jump down on my opponent, snarling and stomping around as the crusher. i never knew why he was my favorite until i read this from his pro wrestling hall of fame site:
"Another facet of The Crusher's style was his stamina, and more importantly, his unwavering ability to absorb punishment from his opponent, and remain as strong as ever. He liked getting beat up, thriving on a good fight...and it seemed to the fans that the more he bled, the stronger he got."
what's not to love? when i saw a little obituary video of the crusher tonight, i tried to watch it with the eyes of the 10-year-old kid who emulated him. he was a strange and wonderful archetype of masculinity, buffoonery, and jovial stylized violence. i'm not sure how much crusher remains in me, or in other midwestern kids who ate cereal while glued to the screen on saturday mornings. still, it does help put certain teenage incidents in perspective, not to mention chuck palahniuk's entire oeuvre. RIP mr. lisowski.