My Wrasslin’ Story, pt. I

Without question, the shittiest blog in the history of our great sport.

I’m a degenerate and I don’t do anything well.  

But I know wrestling.  

I never worked in the business, so I don’t pretend to know any more or less than other fans – I just have my own opinions.  Those opinions are rooted in pre-Monday Night War wrestling viewership, so my wrestling preference is some sort of awkward hybrid of ‘old school wrasslin’ and the shenanigans that went down on Nitro & Raw in the late 90s.  (For example: I enjoy the Austin/McMahon beer bath just as much as I enjoy watching Dean Malenko put on a clinic.)

Every fan has their own story, this is mine.

I was six in 1995 when In Your House 5: Season’s Beatings aired on pay-per-view.

I know that I watched the entire show at the time, but the first match I remember is the Undertaker/Mabel casket match.  History will recall that match as an inconsequential, six-minute bout.  Allot of smarks online reference it when discussing how bad Mabel was in the ring.  

However, at six, I thought it was the coolest fucking shit I had ever seen.

That match hooked me, but any match that night could have.  From the bottom of that card to the top, a good chunk of both my early-on and all-time favorites made an appearance:

  • Razor Ramon
  • Marty Jannetty
  • The 1-2-3 Kid
  • Ahmed Johnson
  • Dean (Shane) Douglas
  • Savio Vega
  • Owen Hart
  • The Undertaker
  • Bret Hart
  • Davey Boy Smith
  • Jimothy Cornette

It was all down hill for me the moment that pay-per-view ended.

My childhood friends’ parents had one of those big-bastard flat screens in their basement, and a pay-per-view box, so I more or less forwent a life and watched EVERY single pay-per-view from that night in 1995 until somewhere around the time it became apparent to me that Sting wasn’t making the jump to the WWF/E. A solid ten years, give or take.  (When I got back into the game a short time later, I quickly discovered that The Collaborator™ had started watching wrestling around the same time I stopped – so I had both a point of reference and VHS tapes to make up my gaps.)

As a snot-nosed youth, my preferred wrestling product was *Schiavone voice* WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING.  Like a parent with multiple children, I also dearly loved the WWF/E (and later, my uber-late nights watching the often egregious violence of ECW.)  I just undeniably had a favorite child.

And it wasn’t even close.

My involvements with ECW were sporadic, but I watched every single Nitro, Raw, Smackdown & pay-per-view from a little before Scott Hall debuted in WCW on May 27, 1996 until Shane McMahon showed up in Panama City, Florida on March 26, 2001.  After that night, I only watched Raw occasionally, but still watched every pay-per-view through Armageddon 2005.  I saw everything from that time period – the irrefutable Golden Age of wrestling – as it happened: Hogan’s heel turn, the Montreal Screwjob, the DX invasion, Raw is Owen, the Taker/Mankind HIAC.

All of it.

When I wasn’t watching wrestling, I was emulating Jeff Hardy on the trampoline, or playing any one of the many wrestling games I came across, or using that newfangled internet to get as much information as I could about the sport.

Wrestling was a huge part of me, and closing that chapter of my life was tough and did not happen overnight. A few things contributed to that over a number of years:

  1. I was nine when Exposed! Wrestling’s Secrets Revealed aired on NBC and I was forced to watch it with the intent that watching the sausage being made would turn me off.  Really, I think I knew at some point well before then that wrestling was choreographed/scripted, so it didn’t shock me.  Learning how things worked didn’t turn me off, it kind of made me love the business more.  For reference, my favorites at the time were: Sting, DDP, Rey Mysterio, Dean Malenko, & Lance Storm.  That’s not an accident.  I did enjoy the show, but if I’m being honest – having NBC lay out the how’s & why’s of it all at such a young age DID subtly change things for me.
  2. I absolutely abhorred the way the WCW buyout was handled in storyline, even back then I couldn’t be shocked by it for long because the way it unfolded infuriated me.  Compounding that, I had already seen the WWF/E misuse some of my favorite ECW/WCW talent, and was not looking forward to more of the same. In short: Chris Kanyon deserved better.  The entire WCW roster deserved better.  Also, a Sting-less wrestling promotion interested me as much as watching paint dry.
  3. The nonsense booking of both A.) Hogan/Sting in ’97/’98. B.) Ric Flair/Rey Mysterio in ’99.
  4. I just grew out of it.  I write this a cool 23+ years after my first pay-per-view and it sounds absurd to me, but I grew out of wrestling.  Between girls, “real” sports, work, & school – wrestling and I just grew apart.. though for a very short period of time.

I’d occasionally watch the WWF/E when bored, or nostalgic.  But I started regularly watching wrestling again in college, usually TNA & often drunk (because you’d have to be.)  The pattern was more or less the same.  Conversations with The Collaborator™ would bring up subjects like “Why did Sting never go to the WWF/E?” Or “Why didn’t Vince McMahon just add the 3rd ‘W’ back to the WWWF?” …I’d then do some googling or youtubing and find myself so far down the wrestling rabbit hole I’d have to skip class the next day.

I’d quickly forget all about wrestling a few days later, until it came back up in conversation – and it did pretty frequently. But I didn’t fully re-immerse myself into my fandom until late-2009 when Smackdown vs. Raw 2010 came out. My roommate played it allot, but I didn’t have the game because I didn’t have the money for a new video game.  Instead, I went out to buy SvR 2007. To this day, I haven’t enjoyed a wrestling game as much as I enjoyed that one.  The Collaborator™ also partook, so we’d both jump in and out of the wrestling fandom for months at a time but not for good.  Never for good.  It wasn’t the same anymore.  I was an adult, and wrestling was for kids.

…And then Bryan Danielson happened.

If wrestling-fandom was a sexual orientation, Danielson’s May 5, 2008 match against Tyler Black would have been my (second) awakening. (Link here, courtesy of Ring of Honor.)  I first saw the match long after it aired, but I fell in love and haven’t looked back since.  Bryan later making the jump to the WWF/E was bittersweet, because by then I’d grown used to seeing my favorite indie guys misused & abused by WWF/E creative, so I was not at all excited.  But it wound up being profound because Daniel Bryan beating Triple H at Wrestlemania XXX may very well go down as my favorite all-time moment.  At this point, what I have seen and enjoyed as far as wrestling goes encompasses a time period from the mid-70s (thanks to the internet) through present-day, so there’s a long list of favorite moments.

In addition to wrestling, writing is also a hobby of mine.  I think that’s a good baseline for what this will be: writing & wrestling, all in one place – with occasional input from The Collaborator™, who is a degenerate and will forever ride my coattails through our joint mediocrity.

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