Ah wrestling - memories of Saturday afternoons spent innocently with my Grandad, drinking home-made tomato soup (made from carrots - which always amazed me) with too much pepper in, watching the wrestling and then sitting silently through the football results incase he missed the numbers which would have announced his passage into the realms of the millionaire! These are the memories that childhoods are made of!
Skip forwards to the year 2000 and my father-in-laws ridiculously bothced attempt to alter our internal cable forced our hand into getting SKY TV ... and thus I was able to watch WWF (as was) TV for the first time. WOW! I'd been passingly aware of the genre but I had never been able to immerse myself in it. The Rock, HHH, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Mankind, Kurt Angle - the list goes on. I would watch it all. I watched WCW as well, on Channel 4 (or was it 5?) and it was all good.
Well, ish. You see some people couldn't understand how an articulate, educated man could possibly derive pleasure from something that 'wasn't real'. I laughed
I mean, whats not real about wrestling? The people are real, the sets are real, the fans are real. It seems real to me? More real than say...oh, Middle Earth or the starship Enterprise? Oh, what you ACTUALLY mean is that the wrestlers are pretending to hit each other... and the matches are 'fixed'.
No? Really? You mean a man can't be punched in the head ten times and not come out like a bloody mess? How could I have missed that? Could it possibly be the same way that when he finished his role as Anakin in the new Star Wars films, Hayden Christiansen did not have his legs amputated? He faked that injury? Oh, and how in Coronation Street, the actors sort of know how each episode will end? Because it's all predetermined you know... fake!
Wrestling is STAGED. It is a very physical soap opera - nothing more, nothing less. Trying to think that those that enjoy it think it is anything else is an insult to their intelligence and yours.
So anyway, my viewing continued - Friday nights and Saturday nights. And then I got an email.
" Dear Neil, blah blah webmaster blah blah Seattle blah blah World Championship blah blah WRESTLEMANIA TICKETS."
Hold the effin' phone!
So that year I was flown by Comic Images to Seattle where I got comp. tickets to the biggest wrestling event of the year. And the next year it was New York, and the year after that Los Angeles. Wow.
Watching wrestling live was a strange experience. First thing you are struck with is the relative size of the venues and the number of people. Then, the realisation that for many Americans this is like going to the cinema - no bowel rending excitement here. And then the matches start and there is no commentary. OOK?! Thats weird.
From my three Wrestlemanias, I have rarely been able to throw off my reserved British nature and start screaming and hollering for my favourite stars. I just sort of kick back and watch the spectacle. It's interesting. It's exhilarating - but I seem to get stuff from it that others don't.
So anyway, this triggered a wrestling spurt for me. Naturally, my normal information centred obsessions had kicked in years before and I had created a small information hub around my wrestling interest. Now I was watching indie videos, spending hours watching the wrestling channel, playing in wrestling PBEM games and all the Raw Deal stuff that I have documented before.
And then, suddenly, it just stopped.
And I have NO IDEA why?
I just stopped going to my local indie fed. No idea why I did, but I did. It just wasn't convenient anymore. And the WWE moves their shows to different nights and that just seemed to clash with my other pursuits in such a way that I hardly ever see RAW anymore - and even less Smackdown. I am far more likely to catch Velocity or Afterburn. I never even tune into the Wrestling Channel anymore. I do still read the news sites every day and I am still 'knowledgeable' about the genre, but the ferocity of fandom seemed to wane overnight.
I have a very settled view on the entire 'sport' - I reckon its something that you only really should watch for a couple of years and still be emotionally attached to it. After that the storylines begin to repeat themselves and you begin to see patterns emerging and it all becomes very predictable.
Still - a fan, a casual fan