It’s been a while since I took a spin in the confessional, so I decided that I would start with one that would hurt me, maybe just a little.
I’ve been a big fan of professional wrestling for the past 20 years.
This won’t come as a surprise to some of you. Maybe you remember how I had the privilege of baptizing the daughter of a WWE Superstar a few years back. And yes, I know that wrestling is “fake.” By which I mean that I know that the storylines and match results are determined in advance, and that while the moves are done in such a way to minimize the damage done to the workers, very real and serious injuries can and do occur.
I seem to be getting away from my original point.
So you might wonder how I got hooked on wrestling. Well it’s all the fault of Hulk Hogan.
During my senior year in college, I was in my dorm room one Monday night with nothing to do. So I was channel surfing, trying to see if anything was on. Lo and behold, I stumbled across an episode of WCW’s Monday Nitro and Hulk Hogan was in the match.
My immediate reaction was: “Hulk Hogan is still alive?”
See, I didn’t watch professional wrestling growing up. As a result, I couldn’t identify anybody. But I did know who Hulk Hogan was. I knew that he was a big deal when I was a kid. So when I found him, still in the squared circle many years later, I was understandably surprised. With nothing better to do, I kept watching.
And here’s the thing: the show ended on a cliffhanger. I can’t remember who won Hogan’s match, but things didn’t get wrapped up at the end of the show. I was a little frustrated by that, but I decided that, if I didn’t have anything to do the next Monday, I’d tune in to find out what happened.
As luck would have it, I didn’t have anything to do the next Monday either, so I indeed tuned in. I found out what happened to Hulk Hogan. And that might have been it, if it weren’t for one guy:
That’s Sting back in his surfer days. I saw Sting wrestle a match and for some reason, I really liked what I saw. But it wasn’t just Sting. Rey Mysterio Jr. wrestled a match too, and this was the “old Rey,” so to speak, back when he was a lean luchadore, filled with mind-boggling maneuvers.
Hulk Hogan may have got me watching originally. Sting and Rey Mysterio brought me back. But it was the NWO that got me hooked.
See, this was back at the height of what’s now known as the Monday Night Wars. The two big heavyweight companies, the WWF/E and WCW, were going head-to-head every week for viewers. And WCW managed to pull ahead when two WWF wrestlers, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash, jumped to WCW. I still remember watching Monday Nitro when Scott Hall showed up the first time. Everyone freaked out. But since I wasn’t a long-time fan, I had no idea who Hall was. It was enough to make me tune in, to find out why this guy showing up in WCW was such a big deal.
And then Kevin Nash showed up. And then Hulk Hogan became a bad guy. And the NWO was formed and started steamrolling over everyone and Sting changed up his look and started hiding out in the rafters and…and…and…
Well, I was a goner. I couldn’t stop watching. Well, actually, I could. My access to cable was sporadic at the time, but for the next four years, I’d tune into WCW when I could. But I also started checking out their competition, the WWF. At first, I didn’t like what I saw. Too edgy. But soon I was watching that more and more…
Fast forward a few years. My brother-in-law and I would go to Buffalo Wild Wings in Mankato, Minnesota, to watch the pay-per-views. I started reading what are known as the “dirt sheets” so I could know what was going on behind the scenes. I attended numerous live shows and had a blast at just about all of them (I even got to insult William Regal at one and the sneer he gave me was exquisite). I was front row when they announced that Eddie Guerrero died (you can even see my try to make the sign of the cross over his nephew, Chavo, during the tribute show).
It was a lot of fun.
But my passion has waned in the recent years. I still enjoy the matches. I still get into the Royal Rumble when it happens. I still love the live shows. But my interest has cooled a bit in the past year or so. It’s just the way it is. Interest comes and goes.
So how about you? Are you a fan of the squared circle? Or do you think I’m a mindless barbarian? Let me know!