Off the heels of the PPV that cemented my passion, I laid in bed thinking about all that happened that night before. New champions, fallen legends, and stars on the rise. They all dazzled through my mind, but I knew it just wasn’t the PPV results that were awe-inspiring. It was wrestling itself.
It seemed like such a perfect fit: wrestling and me. It seemed like something that would never bore, never cease, and never end. It seemed, to me, like it. It was “it.” It was the thing in my life I lived for. Night and day, I couldn’t wait for the new installment of Raw or SmackDown! How could I go a day without watching Austin stomp a mud-hole or Taker set someone up for their last ride? How could I go a day without the mindless announcers flipping out for someone turning heel yet again? How could I go a day without, simply put, men going into the ring and putting their bodies and lives on the line in an attempt to entertain me at home?
I couldn’t, I thought. I wouldn’t, I vowed. I lay in bed and all these thoughts danced in my head better and surprisingly faster than Rikishi shaking his big butt. I opened my eyes slowly, but surely, and marked the time. Two in the morning. Damn it. Fourteen more hours until Raw. How could I go on that long without watching it?
This became the norm for me. Every night after watching wrestling; hell, every second after wrestling ended, whether it was a tape, DVD, or live episode; I started counting down the minutes till I got my fix again. Like a crack addict, I was hopped up on the train. Unlike one though, my sleep schedule was the only thing to get messed up by my addiction. Every hour, every minute, every second of every last day was consumed with the passion that engulfed my heart. Every second, people. I thought more and more about it. Harder and harder, to the point where I pondered, “Could I become even more swallowed by the wrestling beast?”
At the time, the answer was no. But little did I know, that only a few days after Wrestlemania X8, I would come to find that the passion I had now was a dwarf to the potential of my desire.
School always aggravated me to no end. It was always in the way of something bigger, something more important. Yes, it seems dumb and superficial to put things in front of education and that which makes me understand things more, but by the time high school rolled around, the repetitiveness of it all got to me and hindered me from much else. There are only so many times I can learn about the Declaration of Independence and the use of commas before I want to shoot myself.
It seems only fitting that school, the constant nagging voice in the back of my head louder than any parent in the world, would eventually interfere with my wrestling. My passion. Only a week after Wrestlemania X8, I found myself stuck with piles of homework. Biology needed this, Geometry needed that, and of course, my damn Alto Clarinet needed cleaning. I kept on doing this and not even paying attention to the clock. I was working like a demon trying to get all my work done so I could watch my beloved wrestling. Finally, the last problem was done. The last answer scribbled. At last, it was time for my hard work to be rewarded in the form of knowing I would now get to see the results of the Draft Lottery, splitting the brands once and for all. I would get to see once again the beautiful chemistry and moments between Ric Flair and Vince McMahon. But as my eyes graced the clock, I realized I wouldn’t. As the numbers 12:30 flashed before my eyes, I knew I wouldn’t see Raw that sad night.
To this day, I’m surprised the neighbors didn’t come over to hear if someone was dying from all the screaming, but it’s the little things in life that surprise you the most. Calling me pissed would have been the understatement of the century at that point. Livid as well. After about a half hour of shouting words full of asterisks and other letter-replacing symbols, I finally came to my senses and realized that there must be some way to regain my lost time of Raw. There must be some way to at least get a tiny fix to my addiction. I racked my brain for another half hour before retreating to the computer to perhaps complain to some friends.
As I hit the power button and watched the Windows loading screen, I still had no thought as to what to do. I just had nothing. WWF.com, by this point, wouldn’t be updated. Sadly, back in the day (weird, but appropriate), WWF did not update their page as much as they do now. Assholes…Anyway, as I powered up the computer, I hit to the Internet in search of a new game or maybe some stupid joke to keep me entertained for a few minutes before the boredom machine turned on again. In my attempts to keep boredom at bay, I came to Google. Ah-ha! An opportunity presented itself finally! Kind of sad I didn’t think of this next thing earlier, but I’m concentrating on the wrong thing here.
As soon as the multi-colored logo was done loading, I hit to the word blank and typed in a search that would forever change my outlook on professional wrestling. As I typed the phrase “WWF Raw results” into the Google search engine, the road of this wrestling fan took a sharp left turn into a new realm of wrestling desire. As I hit enter, what I thought to be passion turned out to be a ridiculous joke in the locker room of obsession.
What did I find? Searches full of sites like Wrestling Exposed, NoDQ, and The Balrog’s Lair containing knowledge I didn’t even know existed. Each snippet containing jargon I had never seen before from the likes of “Triple H should turn heel” to “the no-selling sucks.” What were these terms? Why were they being used? And more importantly, if this is “it” for me, if this is what I love so vehemently, why do I not know these things? Faster than I came up with my “Nitro” cover back in sixth grade, I hit the link and began to read everything I could.
I found the terms. Smark, mark, selling, blading, babyface, heel, potato, et cetera. I discovered the “dirt sheets.” Triple H’s politicking; Rock’s Hollywood obsession; Hogan’s pathetic run, et cetera. It all seemed like too much at first. I just didn’t get it. Triple H, a good guy cheered by the crowd, was in fact blasted on probably an hourly basis for backstage politics? What the hell went on backstage and since when did the guy I wanted to win the main event at Wrestlemania turn into George W. Bush?
Confused at this point would be an understatement, but unlike last time the feeling of confusion came about, this time I did not run safely back to the confines of what I knew and loved. Last time, I saw Vince on WCW Nitro, got scared and confused, wet myself, and came crawling back to the game that had been my “safe spot” for months. Ok, maybe I didn’t wet myself, but it definitely adds a sense of importance to this point. This time, however, my passion and love of wrestling leered over confusion like a bully over a kid in the playground and the thought of wetting my garments never came into play. Screw that, I was too busy exploring a new world of wrestling. I was too busy expanding my desire. A few days ago, I never thought that my wrestling obsession could get bigger. Now it was time to make the joke of the obsession I had before grow beyond lengths of which my mind couldn’t fathom.
Over the next few months, I began to learn more and more. I took baby steps into becoming a “smart mark,” which in itself is kind of redundant at this point, as I would say 90% of marks are in fact smart in the terms of the definition. Damn it, stay on point. I’ll save that for when I finally finish this series that has taken six months.
With the new realm in front of me, I learned that there was so much more out there waiting for me to watch. Japanese wrestling, Lucha Libre, Ring of Honor, Xtreme Pro Wrestling, and more. I could find it all, download it, and watch it. Hell, I even found stuff dating back to the sixties and seventies. I just started watching it all. Over and over again. The desire grew inside me. Bigger and bigger. Engulfing my heart, my mind, and ultimately, my life.
I was now privy to all the things happening in real life. Austin walking out, other promotions delivering solid matches, NWA trying to bring the credibility back to its name, and so much, oh so much, more. This was at my fingertips and in front of my eyes every waking moment of free time I had. Hell, even when homework sat there unattended, my eyes gazed to wrestling like the forbidden fruit of the Garden of Eden. I had to have it.
How could I live without the epic confrontations of good and evil? The basic stories of men doing anything to keep their titles or get revenge on those who cost them their shot?
I couldn’t, and that’s my story.
Three years later, probably around thousands of wrestling matches and millions of minutes watching wrestling, the passion still grows. The desire still yearns. The addiction still calls out for one more quick fix. For just another Low Ki kick. Just one more Flair flop. One more heel turn that has the announcers bewildered for the billionth time. It’s my life at this point. There is no turning back. There couldn’t be. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Sure, there are still things hindering my love, but I overcome them or grow around them. It’s the way it is and should be. Those who don’t understand can keep on doing that. While they scratch their heads in puzzlement, I’m watching one of the purest forms of art and storytelling in the history of the world: professional wrestling.
Now, my story is done. 1998 to 2005 all covered. Mark to Smark. WCW/WWF fan to all around wrestling fan. Immature pre-teen to well…immature teenager.
And now come the time for the questions many of you have been dying to ask since the first sentence of this severely dragged out series.
What was the point? Why did I tell you all of this? Even more, why the hell are you still reading after about ten pages of pure rambling from an “internet columnist?”
Well, contrary to popular belief, this wasn’t to “put myself over.” This wasn’t about ego. Hell, this wasn’t even about saving my column series (yeah, that theory worked out well; three columns in six months).This wasn’t about me at all.
It’s about you. All of you.
All of you related to the story in one way or another and it got you hooked and kept you reading, or at least it should have (damn my writing skills and writer’s block). And that’s the point.
You people are not alone out there. We all go through the same thing. We all experience the exact same things, people! How many of you reading now had one storyline that cemented your love of the business? How many had one wrestling card keep you up all night wondering how amazing one event could be? How many of you thought your lives could not become more engulfed with wrestling? How many of you made the transition from mark to smark in a similar way to what I described? How many of you got something to hinder your passion in the form of school or perhaps cable TV being taken away? How many of you, quite frankly, got addicted and stayed addicted to the powerful, mind stimulating drug that is wrestling?
How many? If you’re reading this and are a true wrestling fan, there has to be something of my story you can relate to. From the beginning, the middle, or end. From the transitions, confusion, or obsession. There has to be something there, because it is the same for all of us.
And that’s the kicker. That’s the point. From fans of puroseau to fans of sports entertainment, we are all the same. We all tune in to Spike TV, download matches, or turn on the DVD/VCR player to do what? Watch pro wrestling. Watch the storytelling. The art. The sport.
It doesn’t matter who you like. It doesn’t matter what style you admire. It doesn’t matter which promotion or even brand you root for. It matters that you’re a fan. You support the business. You have gone through what everyone else has before you. Life getting in the way. Your desire to watch tapes exceeding the hours in a day. It happened to all of us. We all went through the same thing and we all have the same end product: an overwhelming passion. Some people’s passion manifests itself in buying as many Indy tapes as possible, while others’ manifest itself in terms of tuning in religiously to WWE each and every week. It doesn’t matter which. We all have the passion. We all have the addiction.
Next time someone blasts your favorite wrestler, remember that. Next time you think someone should be shot for underrating Paul Heyman, remember that. Next time you hear the words “sports entertainment rules,” remember that. Anytime anyone makes you mad with what they say, believe, or even watch, remember that. Just like the world, we are a diverse group. We, however, share one thing all in common that surpasses a love of one wrestler, style, or promotion. We all have the addiction. The passion. The love of the sport. We may not share any beliefs about what wrestling is good or what moves look cool, but wrestling itself is what we all share. Our love of this business we spend so much time with and put so much effort into. In the end, we aren’t so different. In the end, our love of pro wrestling makes us all the same. In the end, every fan has the passion, desire, addiction, and love of the business, of the sport, and of professional wrestling.
And that is the true chronicle of a wrestling fan.
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