Write to the Point
Sunday night I decided to let my inner child take over and watch the WWE’s — formerly the WWF — “Money in the Bank” event.The show had its big moments and it took me back to what I enjoyed watching wrestling when I was younger.
I’ll admit it. I’ve been a fan of professional wrestling ever since I was in elementary school.
I was enamored with larger than life characters like Hulk Hogan, The Undertaker and Sting taking on villains like the Iron Sheik, “Nature Boy” Ric Flair and “Macho Man” Randy Savage — or “Macho King” as he was known at the time.
I also know that professional wrestling is not really a sport.
I’m constantly reminding my friends that I know wrestling matches are predetermined. I know the production team and writing staff develops storylines months in advance. I know the wrestling I see on WWE programing is not the same as the Greco-Roman or freestyle wrestling in the Olympics.
I also know that the two competitors in the ring are friends in real life and travel up and down the road together.
I watch wrestling because it tells that classic story of good vs. evil with entertaining characters who can perform amazing feats of athleticism. For those who didn’t know wrestling wasn’t real, I apologize for bursting that bubble.
There are different degrees of wrestling fans. Some folks prefer watching two performers display a variety of technical moves before the first pin. Others like the brawler-type who can leave an opponent in a heap of their own unconsciousness. Then there are the fans who prefer the guys who go at a slower pace, perform a limited set of moves and do most of their work on the microphone.
I guess I would call myself a fan of all types of characters — even the ones whose purpose is to be the comedic part of the show.
Over the years, my interest in wrestling has varied. When I was in grade school, I cheered for the good guys — also known as babyfaces — and booed the bad guys — or heels. Like other Hulk Hogan fans, I took my vitamins and said my prayers.
During middle school in the late ‘90s, Monday was wrestling night for us. I would come home from baseball practice, watch WCW “Monday Nitro” and then watch the WWF’s “Raw is War.”
Being the “wrestling family” on the block it wasn’t uncommon for friends to come over to watch the shows with us.
On weekends, we ordered the pay per views or went across the street to Premiere Video and rented video tapes of old pay per views.
Around this time, wrestling was considered “cool” by the masses because characters like “Stone Cold” Steve Austin were defying authority and that appealed to us hormone-driven rebellious teenagers.
Even though Austin was flipping the bird and drinking beer — which my parents reminded me never to do as long as I lived in their house.
Many fans from that era would say that wrestling was “watered down” over the last 5-6 years. Most of today’s current product is PG-rated and John Cena as the face of the wrestling.
Some folks liken Cena to Hogan, but instead of asking fans to “say their prayers” and “take their vitamins,” he encourages them to “rise above the hate” and “never give up.”
Older fans tend to get upset because of Cena’s lack of in ring abilities — and that most of his fanbase tends to be children.
I’ve also heard complaints about today’s product, saying how it’s “watered down” and how “it’s ruining wrestling,” but I think they’re just mad because times have changed and they want to see their beloved professional wrestling back to what it used to be.
Although today’s wrestling is not perfect and lacks some of the edgy characters and storylines it had in the late ‘90s and early 2000s, it still has the same aspects of storytelling, pomp and athleticism that it had years ago.
And while there are many fans who boo Cena, there are just as many people who wear his T shirts and live by his motto — similar to how the Hulkamaniacs did when they were younger.
Al Stover can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.