A darkened arena… spotlights stabbing the stage.
A contest between men… between nations.
A battle to determine…
the Heavyweight Championship of the World!!!!!!
OK, it was wrestling not boxing. And it was the AWA, not the WWF.
But it was still a pretty big event for the Brown County Arena.
What made it a challenge for us is that the match was being done solely in Japanese. The announcers were from NTV – Nippon Television. The producer was from Japan. One of the combatants was the Japanese champion. And, as soon as we finished recording, the tape was to be FedExed to Tokyo.
Shooting an entire production in a language we didn’t understand merely made things a little more interesting for the crew.
And every wrestling project was certainly interesting. We shot in venues like Waukegan East High School, cities like Hammond, Indiana, stayed in sketchy hotels that had locked lobbies with armed guards. We always arrived early to set up which meant that we worked alongside the roadies assembling the ring. (We were somewhat surprised on our first shoot when one of the roadies donned a striped shirt and played the referee that night.)
But all good things must come to an end and after a couple of years of shooting wrestling we had to call it quits. The deciding incident involved a “brawl” that spilled out of the ring and involved folding chairs being flung by the wrestlers. While they were getting paid to get hit with objects, our crew wasn’t – and after a few tosses that were too close for comfort, we decided it was time to take a standing 10-count and end our days on the circuit.
Today’s MVP trivia question. See if you can figure out the identity of the young boy in the video clip who is pulling cable.