Friday, March 4, 2011

My Secret Obsession

I used to love professional wrestling. I loved it so much that looking back I was probably obsessed with it. I had a passion for it back then that I probably can equate to my passion for the Knicks right now. There was so much about it that I loved. When I was younger I liked the storylines, and as I grew older I loved the athleticism and the action. I remember how it all began too.

I was spending a weekend at my dad's house back in March of 1993. I remember this date only because of what I'm about to tell you. I had watched almost no wrestling at the time except maybe some stuff that would appear on the weekends every once in a while. On Sundays my mom would generally come get us or my dad would take my brother and I to her house. 

On the particular Sunday, my mom came to get us. As she arrived I saw a trailer for Wrestlemania IX. The card was star studded with characters such as the Undertaker, Bret Hart, and Hulk Hogan. I begged my parents to order it on Pay-Per-View and let us watch it. Prior to PPV events back then there would be a "free" countdown where they would try and convince you to buy. I watched the whole thing with all the hype and literally as the clock was counting down to start, my dad caved and ordered Wrestlemania IX. I still remember everything about the event, and I can trace my love back to this one night.

From there I was hooked. I began to follow it religiously. I was a fan of several guys like Razor Ramon, Mr. Perfect, the Undertaker, and many more, but none would capture my imagination like Bret "Hitman" Hart. He never did anything fancy. He wouldn't do backflips off the top rope. He wouldn't jump from dizzying heights onto helpless opponents. He wouldn't even acrobatically flip around the ring. Compared to today's standards he might be considered boring.
Wearing pink before it was metrosexual.
I was such a huge fan because he made it all seem real. He would get kicked in the leg and limp around the ring for the rest of his match. He would take a punch and hold his jaw whenever he got a breather. And the moves he performed were technically sound and realistic as well. He wasn't a big guy compared to the other guys and he would perform accordingly. He would put various holds on bigger guys to cut them down, he would use his strength on smaller guys to take advantage of the size difference. He performed in ways that made sense and he brought realism that will never be seen again to a profession that is known for being "fake."

After a while, I started acting out the show. My brother and I would wrestle just like the professionals. My friends would even get in on the act at times. At first when we were real young we would keep the action on the couch where everything was nice and cushy. Boy did my mom hate that.

Later we moved to the floor when we were too big to fit on the couch. We tried to keep it safe though and we would do high impact moves on the couch or the bed. We never were into that backyard stuff where guys would jump off the roof of their house onto their friend stretched across a table. But we did have a league for a while. We would come up with character names. We would do promotions and fight for the main event spot at Wrestlemania. We even bought the toy WWE championship belts so the champ had something to showcase.
It was made of foam...
In high school I even considered becoming a real professional wrestler. I knew I had the athleticism, and I knew I had the charisma, I just didn't know where to go to learn the ropes. Eventually I grew out of the phase of wanting to wrestle. I guess when I went to college and I no longer had anyone to fight with and that's when it all ended. Although to this day my brother and I still get into it from time to time.

Throughout college and even some of grad school I remained a fan. I would watch all the television showings and some of the PPVs. I outgrew the stories, but remained a fan of the sport. Despite the fakeness of it all these guys would do some amazing things and risked serious injury whenever they stepped in the ring.

Sadly I began to turn away from it all. Maybe about a couple years ago I realized that the new batch of athletes didn't have the same story telling ability and acting prowess as the older guys. As the older group began to retire and got replaced with young blood it became more about the action then the total package. I guess I was always interested in the entire show and not just one thing and this didn't appeal to me as much anymore. Eventually I didn't even find the action all that interesting. The new guys seemed to lack the fundamentals that all the older guys had worked so hard to achieve.

I don't know for sure why I don't watch anymore, but I remember why I did. I remember what I loved about the sport. I remember acting out those very things wrestling with my brother. We would feign injury to hype the match. We would run interference to build suspense. If it was in the show we would do it and it felt real. Sometimes it was real and we would get hurt, but never anything too serious (no broken bones or even sprains). It was all in good fun and to me it was a blast.

1 comment:

Dad said...

Obsession may be an understatement...

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