It’s a special time of year this week (at least in the United States) as families and individuals get together to give thanks for what they have in their lives. That is a very cool thing to get to do and is one of the better reasons for a holiday in the first place. There are so many things to be thankful for in the world and one of those is professional wrestling, which is what we’re going to be looking at today.
I love wrestling. In the thirty plus years that I have spent watching, wrestling has given me so much and it is the kind of thing that you can’t get from anything else. You can gain all kinds of things from watching wrestling and those are among the many reasons that I have kept watching all these years. I have yet to miss an episode of Monday Night Raw, I’ve only missed SmackDowns due to not having the channel and I have seen probably close to 60,000 matches in my day. So what is so great about wrestling and why am I so thankful for it?
As is the case for a lot of people, wrestling is escapism. It lets you get away from real life and go into a world of over the top characters saying ridiculous things and going to battle against their counterparts. It’s more or less a comic book come to life and you can watch it every week on your television screen, or if you’re lucky enough, in person in the arena/stadium. That is the kind of thing you don’t get to experience anywhere else and it is such a special feeling when everything clicks.
There is a famous line about Steve Austin that sums up the idea pretty perfectly: how man of you have ever wanted to beat up your boss? It certainly did seem to connect to some people who feel they have been cheated by the system and wanted to fight back, which is where Austin’s war against Vince McMahon came through. Maybe it’s Austin, maybe it’s the Rock saying what you wanted to say and never could, maybe it’s Hulk Hogan or Kurt Angle standing up for America, or maybe it’s the Hurricane putting on a costume and being a hero. Wrestling gives you a way into another world that you can’t reach every other day.
You want to do it too:
Another major factor to wrestling is the nostalgia. Every wrestling fan has a period that brought them into the sport. For a lot of people it’s the Attitude Era, which came about when a lot of fans wanted something new. Or perhaps it’s the old NWA territory days where your local stars were the coolest things you had ever seen and you wanted nothing more than to see them demolish someone. It could even be the Ruthless Aggression Era where WWE was throwing everything they could at the wall to see what stuck. Everything from the NWA to WWE to Ring of Honor to AEW could be someone’s first and that makes it special.
For me, it’s the Golden Era of the WWF in the latter half of the 1980s and into the early 1990s. That was the era I grew up on and I spent countless hours watching the same videotapes from Blockbuster, learning the commentary almost by heart. I can still remember the Vince McMahon voice over to start the various Royal Rumbles where he lists off the wrestlers’ names in that voice that only McMahon could manage to make sound completely over the top and natural at the same time.
Flash forward to 2014 and the launch of the greatest gift wrestling fans have ever received: the WWE Network. All of a sudden I didn’t need to spend hundreds of dollars collecting all of those old shows again (or trying to find a working VCR). Now all I had to do was click on a link and I could hear all of those shows and calls one more time, which took me back to a time that I remember so fondly to this day.
It was a nicer time when you could get sucked into the world of wrestling and nothing was more important than Hogan holding onto the title against the monster of the week. Or seeing Randy Savage get his hands on Honky Tonk Man for SHOVING ELIZABETH DOWN in the greatest act of evil that has ever been seen. Those were simpler times in wrestling and the kind of thing that gave you such satisfaction. The stories could be built up over time or come out of nowhere, making every show required viewing.
The voices from the past:
That’s the feeling that wrestling often gives me. No of course you’re not going to see something great every week and it would be pretty ridiculous to assume that you would. What you can get every week is something that makes you want to keep watching though. Maybe it’s a promo, maybe it’s a match, maybe it’s a new star getting their first chance. There is always the chance that something might happen and that is why I don’t want to miss anything that I can see.
Sure Austin got cheated out of being in charge of the WWF, but the next night he got a shot at the WWF Title and beat Undertaker to win the thing. Sure Roman Reigns got cheated out of the WWE Title when Sheamus cashed in and it seems like we’re just waiting around for him to win it back, but then he would get a title shot a few weeks later and win the thing by Superman Punching McMahon. Sure it feels like women’s wrestling is the same stuff over and over again, but then Charlotte, Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch come out and Revolutionize the entire women’s division.
Now of course that isn’t the kind of thing that you are going to see every week and if a wrestling company tries to do something that big every week, they are going to burn through everything they can do in a hurry. Wrestling fans are going to be burned out as well and that’s one of the worst things you can do. It’s a crazy idea to try and present that, but in the words of the cinematic classic Sgt. Bilko, you don’t need to be holding four aces if you can make them think you’re holding four aces.
In other words, if the fans believe they can’t miss the show, it’s as good as not being able to miss the show. That’s where wrestling has gotten me hooked. Not matter what they have been doing, it is a pretty rare instance where I don’t want to miss a show and that’s a great feeling to have.
And nothing is better than this (your mileage may vary):
It’s a passion that I have managed to maintain for all of these years and I don’t ever want it to be gone. You don’t get to have that kind of a feeling on very many things in life and for me, professional wrestling has been one of the things I have grown to love very much. No it isn’t the same as it used to be and it never will be again. It can’t be, because wrestling is always changing in some way. You might have a different commentary team or a different wrestler and that is the kind of thing that gives me a reason to keep watching. Who knows what I might miss if I’m not there checking out the show every single week.
Wrestling has meant a lot to me over the years. I’ve watched it through my parents’ divorce, throughout my time in school, through some hard times when I was younger and then trying to figure out what I wanted to do in life. As luck would have it, I have a job where I get to watch and write about wrestling for a living. Throw in that I met my wife on a professional wrestling forum and I think I’ve done pretty well thanks to wrestling over the years. It has given me a lot to be thankful for throughout my life and if my luck keeps going, I’ll be even more thankful every year.