The Magic of Wrestling
July 24, 2007 by J.P. James
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To see where I am coming from you first need to understand where I have been. I am child of the 80's. My morning ritual on Saturday mornings was to wake up at 7 am so I could watch Saturday Morning cartoons. Throughout the sea of Smurfs and Wuzzles I ran across a cartoon by the name of Hulk Hogan's Rock 'n' Wrestling. It was a cartoon about Hogan and his band of babyfaces trying to foil the schemes of Roddy Piper and his group of heels. I was hooked right then and there. I mean the guy wore his wrestling tights and world title everywhere, how could you ignore something like that? This of course led to me watching Superstars so I could see the live cartoon counterparts in action and wrestling became part of my life after that. I went to shows ranging from the WWF to the NWA to WCW to ECW to the USWA. I never missed a program on television. In the attic of my parents house is a library of tapes containing all the shows I watched. I even had my own wrestling organization that I booked and kept track of. If that doesn't sound pathetic right off the bat you need to take into consideration that this is something I did by myself. Yes I role played all the matches and promos by myself in my home. But hey what could I do? I couldn't out myself as a wrestling fan. It wasn't "cool" back then. Sure there were members of our club all over the city but no one would admit it. I remember a kid got locked in the girl's bathroom for wear a Rocker's t-shirt one day.....well I mean the Rockers, maybe he deserved it. What saddens me is that wrestling is still something I enjoy, its still something I respect. But that excitement, that magic it once gave me is gone.
See back in the day my parents wouldn't buy PPV's for me, and considering I was earning five bucks a week for an allowance I could hardly afford them. I had to deal with scramble vision. Now some of you are familiar with this concept through those allusive porn channels. Kids my age would watch for hours in hopes that for that one split second the waves would come together so you could get the slight glimmer of a boob. Well thats what I dealt with, except with wrestling. If I couldn't watch it then by God I was going to listen to it. What amazed me was that the magic of wrestling during that time carried over even without any visuals to speak of. Take April 1, 1990 for example, at the Toronto Skydome. The Ultimate Warrior took on Hulk Hogan in a match that made me feel things that at that age I had never felt before. I remember hearing that Hogan had gone for the leg drop. Then I heard the ref's hand slap the mat three times. What had happened? Had Hogan Won? Had the Warrior moved? Had a young Triple H ran in and stolen the belt? I set crouched in front of the TV for what seemed like an eternity until the thunderous chorus of drums began to ring through the arena signifying the Ultimate Warrior's ascension to world heavyweight champion. I literally hit the ceiling I jumped so high. That was magic. They didn't have a lot of technical skill, they didn't know a lot of wrestling holds but they didn't need it. Now imagine that for a second. I was sucked into that match, I was a part of it and I couldn't see a thing. That's some damn good story telling if you can captivate your audience without showing them anything and that's what they did with me.
A few months later the whole scene was replicated when Sting turned a figure four leg lock into a small package to defeat Ric Flair for the NWA World Title. See back in the day a PPV was a rare occurrence. Maybe a few times a year. With months between major events it became more of an event when the wrestlers who have been feuding for so long finally got in the ring together. You also have to take into account that the wrestling shows other than SNME of that day were hardly like Raw. You had one wrestler that everyone knew wrestling some nobody aka jobber. I called them street people as I was convinced they just paid some homeless person to get in the ring. It was rare to see two big names going at it. Maybe thats why wrestling today has lost some of its mystique with me. If something magical happens every week then it stops becoming magical doesn't it, it becomes the norm.
Maybe its because the Superstars of old were more like Super heroes than athletes. Some of them even had magical abilities. Or maybe it was that kayfabe was still something that mattered. I mean even when I was six years old I knew it was scripted. But in this day and age when you see wrestlers speaking out of character at an increasing rate, well its like your mother telling you there is no Santa Claus even though you've known it for years. Maybe its because there isn't as much good or bad anymore. In the day you were either good or you were bad. There was no shade of grey. Some could say that they are trying to make wrestling more realistic but the fact is that I like wrestling because I can step away from reality. I can sit on my porch and watch reality.
This article isn't about trying to fix anything, I'm not sure anything is broken. I still respect the athletes and what they do, I just miss the electricity that used to surround it. Maybe it has nothing to do with wrestling. Maybe its the fact that wrestling is "cool" now. Maybe its not my little secret anymore, my forbidden pleasure. Ah well I can still rest easy knowing the kid with the Rockers shirt is still locked in that bathroom.
by J.P. James (View/Submit your feedback here)..
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