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The View from Sherlock Peoria (201)

April 9 , 2006

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Wrestling With Sherlock Holmes, Part Two:

"Hell, London" or "Hell, Yeah!"?

Sherlock Holmes is about as close to being at one with the universe as a human being gets.

It’s the reason so much has been written about him over the years. It’s the reason his fans are such a wide variety of people.  And it explains why I can write about professional wrestling in a Sherlock Holmes column.

Yes, I’m back from Wrestlemania, followed by a Smackdown taping here in Peoria two nights later, and I’m here to tell ya, Sherlock Holmes himself would have definitely found the manly art of pro wrestling to his liking. Why?

Well, on a cheap superficial level, one would be tempted to just cite the words of Sherlock Holmes. Remember how much he spoke of “the Game”? “The game is afoot.” “I play the game for the game’s own sake.” No matter which meaning for “game” you prefer, Holmes was all over it.

And wouldn’t you just know it, one of the main players in modern professional wrestling is a guy who goes by the nickname of “the Game.” He’s also known as “the cerebral assassin,” a description that Holmes would surely appreciate. But playing the name game is hardly proof that Sherlock Holmes would like something as seemingly counter to his mental focus as wrestling. I mean, you can’t just say “Holmes said he was more intrigued by problems posed by Nature” and then say “Holmes was a fan of Nature Boy Ric Flair.” (Even though I know one Sherlockian academic who  actually is a Ric Flair fan.) Of course, if you really think about it . . . flair is the key to Sherlock Holmes’s suspected fondness for professional wrestling.

If you read many Sherlockian publications, you’ve probably encountered the works of Carl Heifetz, whose specialty is pointing out the way Holmes used the scientific method in his cases. Carl makes a lot of good points, and I don’t think there’s anyone who would disagree that Sherlock Holmes is a man of science.  Sherlock Holmes was a man of learning, a man of skills, a man of great mental powers.  But there are many among us who can be described with those words. Scientists, scholars, geniuses . . . you can’t just throw a rock at random an hit one, but they also aren’t exactly a unique commodity.  Sherlock Holmes had one other thing that made him the legend we know today: a flair for the dramatic.

"It was too bad to spring it on you like this; but Watson here will tell you that I never can resist a touch of the dramatic," Holmes explained after amusing himself with a little trick on a client in “The Naval Treaty.”

And therein we find exactly why Sherlock Holmes would love professional wrestling.

Holmes dressed up his own mental exertions with wordplay, dramatic touches, and playing characters as needed. Professional wrestlers dress up their own physical exertions with wordplay, dramatic touches, and playing characters as needed.  They are, when you think about it, two peas in a pod, perfect complements to each other.

I’ll even take this thesis to the next level and propose that Sherlock Holmes would have made a wonderful professional wrestler.  He had the physical skills. He had the dramatic skills. He had a great personal charm when he wanted to. Think of the times Holmes feigned weakness or illness to get his opponent where he wanted them. Think of Holmes unbending a fireplace poker twisted by his rival to show his own strength.  Think of Holmes snapping the cuffs on an unwitting Jefferson Hope and then wrestling him through a window and back out again.  (The rules of wrestling are such that sneaking in handcuffs and getting them on an opponent would not be seen as a real problem. In fact, it’s been done.)

Sherlock Holmes was the professional wrestler of consulting detectives, when you come right down to it. But is that really a surprise? Like I said at the outset, Sherlock Holmes is universal, at one with more of our universe than most of us. Even when that corner of the universe involves pro wrestling.

Your humble correspondent,

Brad Keefauver