Gorgeous George Wagner v Donald J. Trump – The Tale of the Tape

22.10.2020

(Australian professional wrestling tragic and media consultant Wayne Hickson explores the separated-at- birth connection between the most flamboyant professional wrestler of all time and the president of the United States.)

Meet the man to blame for the man Donald Trump is today.

This is George Wagner, born in Nebraska in 1915 during the Great War, the son of a house painter and a disabled mum and who would become the world’s most famous loud-mouthed, flamboyant and cartoonish professional wrestler and self-professed ‘most beautiful man in the world’.

It all started when Wagner read a Vanity Fair magazine article about a wrestler who bestowed upon himself the title of ‘Lord’ Patrick Lansdowne – ostensibly a British aristocrat –  who would enter the ring, to fight all American boys, wearing a velvet robe, accompanied by two valets and the boos and catcalls of the audience.

Wagner was hugely impressed with the bravado and outrageousness of the Lansdowne character and was convinced that he was the man to take the theatre of it all to a much, much higher level.

So, one night in the early 1940s the former carnival sideshow tent grappler morphed to become Gorgeous George – a larger-than-life, full of himself, perfectly coiffured, narcissistic wrestling phenomenon, burdened by his own genius.

He was also the world’s first cowardly baddie, who good people paid good money when good money was tight to watch him squirm, connive and cheat his way out of trouble when things were not quite going his way in the ring.

And with television in its infancy in the US, and wrestling firmly on the TV networks’ radars as a cheap and easy form of content, the Gorgeous One was destined to become the sport’s first real superstar.

Turning Lord Lansdowne up to 11, Gorgeous George’s schtick was to leave his dressing room to booming orchestral music wearing a homemade bejewelled silk cape – led  to the ring by his valet ‘Jeffries’ who would walk down the aisle carrying a silver-plated tray and dropping flower petals at the great man’s boots.

On the tray was a mirror and a silver atomiser filled with perfume-scented disinfectant, allegedly Chanel No. 5.

Jeffries would set the tray in one corner of the ring before George would relieve the surprised announcer of his microphone to assure any doubters in the crowd of what a beautiful and perfect specimen of human being he was.

He certainly was not the biggest or the best wrestler God ever put breath into, but by God he knew how to put on a show to help his audience escape their everyday troubles for a few hours at least.

And in developing the Gorgeous George persona, he changed not only his own career but the entire goodie versus baddie narrative of professional wrestling.

If all this sounds familiar, there is a perfectly good reason.

Yes, it was Gorgeous George who gave sage advice to a brash 19-year-old boxer on the rise called Cassius Clay after a chance meeting at a radio station.

Clay took it all very seriously and it was not long before the Louisville Lip was born, just ahead of his famous world championship bout with Sonny Liston.

And no lesser lights than Elvis Presley and James Brown would openly credit Wagner for their hairstyles and capes and that winking, pouting chunk of their on-stage personas that drove women crazy.

Gorgeous George also refined the magician’s art of misdirection – mostly behind the referee’s back – at a time when America desperately needed a serious post-war distraction of its own.

Seven decades later with the country floundering from a tragically mishandled pandemic response, Donald Trump, himself an embarrassing WWF Wrestlemania 23 punchline, seems to have taken a cue from the Gorgeous One’s distraction theory playbook, but with a distinct absence of uplift.

In fact, it is just the opposite.

The showman’s bluster, the incessant bragging of being the best at everything, the flaunting of personal riches and the put downs of science, good people, ideas and reason, the embracing of self-serving and risky ways out of tight fixes – the similarities are far too many to ignore.

Blind Freddie can see Trump’s attraction to a land of storytelling and make believe, populated by unhinged characters hurling schoolyard insults at each other.

So, let us take a moment to hold Gorgeous George’s famous mirror to both men, and wonder aloud what got so hopelessly lost in translation somewhere between the red corner and the White House.

Gorgeous George ruled a world where his opponents were all unworthy and inferior and dumb.
And we’re away…

Gorgeous George, as baddies do, claimed he was ‘robbed’ whenever he lost a bout and routinely called for revenge ‘grudge’ matches.
Donald Trump is getting in early by repeatedly calling into question the validity of the result of the yet-to-be-held US election – already angling for a grudge match if he loses. No one expects him to give up the belt without a tantrum and reports this week already have him seriously considering a revenge bout tilt in 2024.

Gorgeous George’s flowing locks of dyed platinum blonde hair became his signature, so much so that he would throw gold-plated ‘Georgie’ pins that he had just taken from his ‘wing wave’ hair into the audiences.
Donald Trump sports similarly famous tresses, and he is adept to throwing things that have touched his hair into adoring audiences at his rallies, such as his sweaty MAGA caps.

Gorgeous George would enter the ring to the strains of Elgar’s famous Pomp and Circumstance March.
Donald Trump’s coronavirus super spreader mosh pit rallies have become famous for the tunes belted out on his way to and from the stage, which are invariably followed not long after by the shocked performing artists threatening to sue.

Gorgeous George perfected the wrestler’s art of appearing to be well beaten, before staging a miraculous recovery to pin his opponent when all looked lost.

Gorgeous George and Methuselah would both have struggled with Donald Trump’s ‘one minute he had it, the next minute he didn’t’ coronavirus storyline.

Gorgeous George would blow ‘George kisses’ to the pretty girls in the audience.
“I feel so powerful. I’ll walk into that audience. I’ll walk in there; I’ll kiss everyone in that audience. I’ll kiss the guys, and the beautiful women, and everybody. I’ll just give ya a big, fat kiss.” – this is the recently coronavirus positive and suddenly recovered president of the United States at an October campaign rally in Florida, hardly promoting the ideals of good hygiene.

Gorgeous George pioneered the practice of wrestlers distracting the referee before producing concealed weapons from their trunks or boots to whack their good guy opponents over the head with while backs are turned.
Donald Trump desperately implores Americans to ‘look over there’ at things like stock market surges that only he can see, as an average of 700 good and honest US citizens die each day from his administration’s serious mishandling of the nation’s COVID-19 pandemic response.

Gorgeous George demanded absolute adoration from his audiences.
We don’t even need to write words here.

Way prior to hand sanitisation becoming our lives, Gorgeous George would have ‘Jeffries’ disinfect the referee’s hands before the wrestlers were padded down for concealed weapons. He is said to have pioneered the cry of “Get your filthy hands off me!”
According to The Independent on Friday 18 September 2020, and attributed to a former top adviser to US vice president Mike Pence, the known germaphobe Donald Trump once said Covid-19 might be a “good thing” because it would stop him from having to shake hands with “disgusting people”.

Gorgeous George would aggravate audiences by arriving in the ring 10 minutes after his opponents, and then take a few more minutes to make sure his valet had folded his cape neatly and had disinfected random parts of the ring that looked a bit germy.
Donald Trump NEVER fronted his farcical White House daily coronavirus press briefings on time, ostensibly to aggravate the ‘Fake News’ and put pressure on their reporting deadlines.

Gorgeous George would regularly fill Madison Square Garden on the strength of his name alone, easily setting wrestling box office records for the time.
Donald Trump strenuously denies supporters are paid $12 each to hold MAGA signs and wear MAGA t-shirts at his rallies.

During his career, George probably made close to $2 million, but lost it all to booze and a decent downhill slide in retirement.
Donald Trump didn’t deny at his Miami town hall earlier this month that he owed creditors $400 million, basically implying that sort of money was chump change to a wealthy Scrooge McDuck like him. His idea of retirement is playing golf several times a week and dabbling part time as the leader of the free world.

By all accurate accounts, when the bout was over and the lights had dimmed and he had left the changerooms, Gorgeous George instantly turned back into a normal human being, a wonderful dad and someone who his opponents and friends loved having a beer with…
Okay, this is probably a good place to finish.