I come from a wrestling fan family. When I was a kid, my mom talked about watching Jerry Lawler out of Memphis. My uncle on my dad’s side is an actor who had a comedy special that featured a scene of him at a drive-in theater. During the scene, there’s a quick shot of an older couple in another car. The man, who happens to be my grandfather (sitting next to my grandmother), is reading a wrestling magazine. When my grandmother was younger, she and her sisters would go to the wrestling matches and throw their shoes at the heels (often being told to leave as a result).

When I was a younger kid, I had a bunch of action figures. They were mainly the famous LJN series of WWF wrestlers and I had a good chunk of them, to the point where I was able to do very well on the Name The Action Figure Silhouette challenge on the Edge and Christian Show this season. Years later, I found one buried in the ground in the backyard of the same house (Corporal Kirschner to be exact).

This might be the only time Kirshner gets a mention so let’s give him a video too:

Corporal Kirchner is ready to make his WWE debut

I had the WWF ring and my grandmother would use her massive over the shoulder camcorder to film me playing with them. Oddly enough, I spent most of the footage explaining the idea of a battle royal to her instead. Yeah imagine that: me wanting to talk about wrestling instead of doing something, you know, fun.

When I was about ten or so, my grandmother bought a bunch of Styrofoam pool toys for her daycare center. They could be bent around out of their long pole shapes and there were even some that were thicker and had holes in them so the longer ones could be inserted. Being who I am, I realized they could be used for posts and ropes of a wrestling ring, which my grandmother spent hours to build in my basement one day. I mean, it only lasted a few hours because it wasn’t the sturdiest thing in the world but who else has a ring in their basement?

Over the years, my love of wrestling never went away. Most of my friends who watched it grew out of it and started rolling their eyes at how “stupid” it was. I never gave up on it though and began to realize just how much I loved it. To this day I haven’t missed an episode of Monday Night Raw in its history, I haven’t missed an Impact in nearly ten years and I haven’t missed a Smackdown since 2008 when the show moved to MyNetworkTV as we didn’t get the CW.

Back in early 2009, with Wrestlemania XXV on the horizon, I decided to review every Wrestlemania ever. The first set was well received so I started doing more and more, eventually hitting my 5000th review last year. I started a website in there and now, along with other various forms of wrestling writing, this is my full time job and how I pay the bills. To this day a lot of my family doesn’t exactly get what I do or why I don’t go to a “real job” but if they don’t get it by now, they probably aren’t going to so what different does it really make.

And now, from Wrestlemania XXV:

Shawn Michaels' 25th Anniversary of WrestleMania Entrance

During the whole process, which took its sweet time and saw me make a glorious $35 in my first month of work, I was broke most of the time but spent as much time and effort as I could to build things up more and more. Eventually though I started to make some headway and a few of the contact that I had made over the years thought it might be helpful to have someone around who had watched more wrestling than any sane person ever could (currently somewhere around 60,000 matches in my life).

Yeah it was stupid, yeah it was an excuse to watch a lot more wrestling, and no I was never going to get rich from it. This was what I loved though and it was the only thing I really enjoyed doing. I had a college degree but what good was I going to get out of working in government when I could be watching the 1995 Great American Bash and going into a discussion of Jim Duggan vs. Craig Pittman and the Nasty Boys vs. the Blue Bloods for the Tag Team Titles?

No one deserves the 1995 Great American Bash so here’s my all time favorite match instead:

FULL-LENGTH MATCH - Raw - Shawn Michaels vs. Shelton Benjamin

Throughout the whole thing, there were only a few people who thought this was ever going to get anywhere or that I wasn’t wasting my time. I spent a lot of time sitting in my grandmother’s house, talking to her about what I was doing and how hard it was to get this whole endeavor off the ground. To this day she has no idea what a blog is or how exactly I was able to make money doing this, but what difference did it make? I was bringing in money and sitting on my computer all day, meaning I didn’t have to carry plates and dishes like she did for twenty five years before turning my house into a daycare center.

On the morning of Wrestlemania XXIX, I realized something: I really, really wanted to go to Wrestlemania. That was easier said than done, but over the next year I saved as much money as I could for the sake of going down to New Orleans for Wrestlemania XXX. Again, I don’t think what I was doing was quite clear, but that didn’t stop the encouragement from the family, with one person in particular telling me that if I wanted to do it, go for it. I’m going to assume you know which one I’m talking about assuming you’ve been paying enough attention.

At some point over the years, I met a woman from England on a wresting forum and started talking to her every single day. One thing led to another and eventually we got married, much to my family’s delight. She’s still a fan, though she draws the line when I go into long rants about the NWA Southeastern Heavyweight Championship (the first title Hulk Hogan ever won). My family doesn’t quite understand a lot of what she says in the English accent, but you can see the smiles when they talk to her. The fact that my grandmother went to Florida the day after the wife moved to America is just a coincidence I assure you. Maybe.

On Saturday January 26, my grandmother Alma passed away from lymphoma at age none of your business because I don’t want her coming back to kill me. I don’t remember anyone who would sit and listen to whatever was going on no matter if she understood it or not while offering encouragement, criticism (though nicely), another side of things or just a welcome shoulder to put your head on if you needed it.

You don’t get people like that very often but when you do, you know that they’re some of the few people who genuinely care about you. Keep those people close to you, because there aren’t going to be many of them in your life. They’re the ones who are going to be there no matter what and that’s the kind of person who you can count on, which don’t come around very often.

Whether it was listening to what I had to say, making me a big lasagna or building me a freaking ring in the basement (Who does that?), I knew she was always going to be there for me and I tried to do the same for her. I was never going to get close to what she did, as it turns out someone who survived three kids, seven grandkids and a great grandson plus three previous bouts of cancer are kind of hard to top. It’s only been a few days now, but it feels like she’s been gone for far too long already.

I miss you Alma. Thank you for listening.

Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 50,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 5,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his Amazon author page with 28 wrestling books. His latest book is the the Complete 1997 Monday Night Raw Reviews.

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