Terry Funk Was Middle-Aged And Crazy In 1989, Thus Making Him A Perfect Mirror For Trump’s America
“I wish the NWA would’ve never given him a license to wrestle here…” — Jim Ross
The things that Terry Funk did between May-November 1989 in the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) could be the only things that could ever make what Donald Trump is doing in to the United States in 2016 look like a walk in the park. To close the 1980s, Funk “broke Ric Flair’s neck” by piledriving him through a table, literally attempted to asphyxiate him with a plastic bag, insulted his manhood in any great number of ways, and attempted to beat Flair until he told Funk that Funk was the better man. Therefore, there’s a real correlation between Funk’s in-ring pro wrestling behavior and how many perceive that The Donald is breaking, asphyxiating, insulting and beating the spirit of the American public until we assent that he’s the President.
By 1989, legendary professional wrestler Terry Funk was a semi-retired legend who, in a then 25 year career, had wrestled every other legendary performer in the industry from Dusty Rhodes and Hulk Hogan to Abdullah the Butcher and Giant Baba, on pretty much every continent on the planet Earth.
Funk is what many in pro wrestling would call an “outlaw,” and not just because he was was from Amarillo, Texas. Rather, in a manner similar to Trump in business, he’s an outlaw because of his approach to wrestling. Funk eschewed traditional, hold-for-hold wrestling matches (even, yes, ones built up through a pre-requisite slew of outlandish put-downs). Instead, he did things like, while wrestling in the state of Florida, slathering himself in viscous motor oil and dirty in order to insult “dirty, stinky, and greasy Florida crackers.” As well, he once referred to Dusty Rhodes as an “egg sucking dog,” and spent the better part of a 1985-1986 stint in the World Wrestling Federation assaulting ringside attendants and attempting to cattle brand Hulk Hogan and The Junkyard Dog.
By 1989, Funk had justifiably earned the moniker of “middle aged and crazy” given to him by then-NWA commentator Jim Ross. Funk made his way back to wrestling via a storyline that saw him first sitting ringside as a “judge” for the final match in a series of almost balletic performances that kicked off 1989 in the NWA between Ric Flair and Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat at the WrestleWar ’89 event.
After Flair emerged victorious, Funk entered the ring and respectfully asked champion Flair to grant him a shot at his belt. Flair denied the request, explaining that Funk hadn’t wrestled for some time, and though a “great champion,” needed to ascend through the ranks of the top ten contenders for Flair’s championship. Funk silently seethed, and with faux humility, asked again. Denied again, Funk then dramatically attacked Flair, and in a moment that hearkened to a future of this happening de rigueur in pro wrestling, Funk placed Flair’s head between his knees, lifted his legs into the air, and impactfully drove his head into the table.
The key to not just this feud, but perhaps on a larger level what has befallen America, is that Funk — like Donald Trump — took umbrage to being told that for as great as he was, that he wasn’t great enough to deserve to demand what he wanted, exactly when he wanted it. In retaliation, Trump, like Funk, set upon a series of astounding behaviors that called into question normalcy and common decency in a manner that had never been seen before because of an adult lifetime of being lampooned for demanding exactly what he wanted, exactly when he wanted it. Donald Trump wanted to be elected President of the United States. Terry Funk, all he wanted was the NWA World Championship.
Amazingly, both Trump and Funk utilized similar strategies to attain success.
Donald Trump sullied the war record of veteran-turned-politician John McCain, insinuated that menstruation made Megyn Kelly a less-than-stellar journalist, insultingly made light of another journalist’s physical handicap, was outed as a serial sexual assaulter, and is rumored to have employed Russian espionage to secure the American presidency.
Comparatively, Funk defeated then up-and-coming wrestler Eddie Guerrero in a most humiliating fashion on national television, then called Ric Flair a “jackass.” Furthermore, he paraded a not-so-imposing Ric Flair surrogate in front of television cameras with a yellow stripe painted down his back to suggest that Flair was cowardly. Then, with his devious managerial sidekick Gary Hart and Japanese legend The Great Muta, he formed the multi-national “J-Tex Corporation” to defeat Flair and destroy his legacy.
Interestingly enough, it was in November that Trump and Funk had separate, epic, and must-win “I Quit” Clash of the Champions moments that defined their career legacies and lives, forever.
On November 15, 1989, Terry Funk faced Ric Flair for the “final time” in an “I Quit” match that required that the winner would get the loser to literally say “I Quit.” If Funk won, he would also attain the NWA World Championship which he had lusted after for the past six months. If Flair won, well, Terry Funk would head off into his wrestling sunset, likely to do God knows what, who knows where. After 18 minutes and 33 seconds of a brawl that left the ring and was contested all over the Houston Field House in Troy, New York, Funk quit.
By comparison, on November 8, 2016, Republican primary champion Donald Trump clashed with Democratic primary champion Hillary Clinton in what was ostensibly an “I Quit” match for the American Presidency. If Trump won, there was a sense that the world would change forever. If Clinton won, well, Trump would head off into pop culture ignominy, doing God knows what, who knows where. In what was deemed a shocking upset, at 3 AM on November 9, Hillary Clinton conceded defeat to Donald Trump, which in rasslin terms, means she said “I QUIT.”
So let’s break down where we are in America post our Funk/Trump-induced madness:
Since losing out on the NWA World Heavyweight Championship in 1989, Terry Funk has lived far past middle age, and still participated in things, that, even by the “still crazy after all these years” Mr. Funk’s loose definition, we’ll call “wrestling matches.” Oftentimes contested in places that we’ll call “God knows where,” he’s done an astounding list of who knows what that includes doing accidentally setting people on fire and doing backflips onto ladders at the age of 53, wrapping himself in barbed wire and diving onto explosive-laden plyboard, being thrown into garbage dumpsters, being kicked in the face by a horse, and inciting a violent fan riot.
By comparison, Donald Trump? If Terry Funk sets any example, what could’ve happened if Trump lost should make us bizarrely intrigued to see what happens now that he’s won.