The Pile Driver
When I was young, my dad (Butch) and I had a ritual to watch All-Star Wrestling every Sunday. Butch reveled in Mean Gene Okerlund’s faux concern while interviewing villains named The Claw, The Sheik , Sgt. Slaughter, The Giant, Jake the Snake, The Body and his smarmy manager The Brain/Weasel. It was a daddy/daughter bonding experience.
We knew all the pro wrestlers’ signature moves, and depending on whose match was up, we’d anticipate seeing one of our favorite moves – the Pile Driver. You see, Butch was a pile driver, a construction specialty made infamous by this ‘neck-breaking’ move meant to cripple opponents, and lead to an immediate pin. This move was lights out. Seeing one, the crowd would let out a loud ‘oooh’, in a ‘that’s-gonna-hurt’ way. Butch would nod in self-satisfied approval.
My first impressions of his vocation were formed from watching the brutalizing of poor chumps from Omaha, Des Moines or Fargo. The spectacle instilled a healthy respect for my dad’s tough job, bad-ass enough to disable a man, at least in the make-believe sense.
At least that’s what I naively thought. Later, I’d come to find out that the fearsome Pile Driver can be disabling outside of the entertainment ring. On the real job site, a novice crew member can accidentally dropped a steel beam on your dad’s back. It can lead to lights out. It can disable a man from St. Paul.