Professional wrestling used to be a big deal on the holidays. Most famously were the NWA’s Starrcade and the WWF’s Survivor Series held every Thanksgiving. But just like there used to be major wrestling cards on Christmas, there were other Thanksgiving Day traditions. How successful were they? Well, let’s just say there are exactly zero wrestling events on Thanksgiving each year.
It’s unfortunate; there aren’t enough themed shows. There are so many special cards now, in order to make one seem more important than any another monthly show, it needs to have something more. And just calling it Elimination Chamber or TLC is not enough. The TakeOver shows initially had a Clash of the Champions vibe that made those events stand out. Then they hitched their wagon to the main roster and started to fill like the C show they actually are.
This doesn’t mean there has to be a person dressed up as a turkey or someone has to say grace before each match. The very fact that it takes place on a holiday makes it special — even football games that may not matter much in the standings take on extra meaning on Turkey Day. Wrestling should cater to that feeling. Here are some of the overlooked and forgotten pro wrestling Thanksgiving traditions.
Star Wars (World Class, 1983-1987)
I will get more into this next month during AIPT’s Star Wars celebration, so consider this a prelude. During its heyday, World Class would hold events on Christmas and Thanksgiving. These cards tended to have some memorable moments, and some of them even changed the face of professional wrestling. People tend to only remember the many tragedies of World Class, but the promotion also gave Vince McMahon a blueprint of how to have a cutting edge wrestling show. Star Wars is some of WCCW’s finest work.
Turkey on a Pole Match (AWA, 1990)
Surprisingly, Vince Russo has nothing to do with this match. However, it does take place during the dying days of a once-mighty promotion and Eric Bischoff is involved. The AWA was on its last legs and decided to split up what was left of its roster into teams. Each match would be for points and the winning team would get a million dollars. Theoretically, every match meant something, but when one of the matches consists of a jobber fighting a racist to grab a turkey off a pole, the concept loses some of it luster. Add the fact that the match was filmed in a pink studio with no fans and you have one of the oddest spectacles in wrestling history.
Thanksgiving Thunder (Various)
Wrestling is known for its simplistic and goofy names. WrestleMania is the prime example: there’s wrestling and things are going to get wild. It’s not hard to come up with the name for a pro graps card. (The irony is how many wrestlers and people associated with the sport have taken credit for the name, as if it is a genius level accomplishment.) Somewhere along the line, someone decided fans would respond better to names likes Great Balls of Fire. Alliteration and wrestling go together better than balls and fire, but Survivor Series is not good enough. Give me Thanksgiving Thunder and Lethal Lottery any day.