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WRESTLING COLUMNS

At Least We Have Memories
August 5, 2005 by Lee B.


I consider myself a veteran fan of professional wrestling. I consider myself a fan who has had a tumultuous relationship with professional wrestling for over 15 years; loving it, hating it, but never able to fully get away from it. When professional wrestling programming is great, I need no excuse to watch it. When the programming is lackluster, I continually need to resort to memories and old footage to convince myself that things can, and hopefully will, get better.

These memories are composed of my experiences as a young fan of the WWF during the late 80's and early 90's, when professional wrestling was innocent and being a fan simply required being a fan.

Let me throw out a list of terms that should invoke great memories for wrestling fans of the same generation as I: Hulk Rules Tank tops; WWF Pillow Buddies (I still have my Ultimate Warrior); WWF Trading Cards; Blue Steel Cages; Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse Ventura; WWF Ice Cream (which tasted horrible, but didn't matter); WWF Cereal; Yellow Intercontinental Championship Belts; WWF Superstars on Saturdays; Royal Rumble, WrestleMania, SummerSlam, Survivor Series . . . and no others; Todd Pettingill; Outdoor PPVs; No entrance music during the Royal Rumble; Vince McMahon is the owner"

I truly hope some of my readers can relate to that list as much as I can. My memories are grounded in things like the aforementioned. My love for professional wrestling began with things like these. This era of pro wrestling is so important in the construction of what it has become today. This era of pro wrestling created a fan-base that is rock solid, a fan base which has stuck with wrestling ever since. I am a part of that fan base.

I hate calling professional wrestling a business. I hate when wrestlers say, on-air, that they work hard for the love of the business. I hate when fanboys on Internet forums refer to professional wrestling as a business, as if they are sitting in the executive board room discussing budgets with Vince McMahon himself. I hate using wrestling insider terms, such as 'face', and 'heel', although I will use them from time to time. There was none of this talk during my founding years as a wrestling fan. Wrestlers wrestled because they wanted to be champion, not because they wanted more money, or more backstage pull. Bad guys were bad guys because they were intrinsically mean, not because they were stale as good guys. When our favorite wrestler wasn't on TV for a long time, it was because he was injured, not on vacation.

Vince knows the value of the fans of this era of wrestling. He shows his appreciation for us fans all the time. He shows it when Sergeant Slaughter makes an appearance on RAW. He showed it when Jake 'The Snake' Roberts got RKO'd by Randy Orton. He showed it when Tatanka, who used to be my favorite wrestler, showed up on RAW this past Monday. All of these wrestlers come out to great ovations. Why" Slaughter was the ultimate bad guy, yet he comes out to chants of USA. Jake 'The Snake' gave Andre the Giant a heart attack, yet he comes out to cheers. Tatanka sold his soul to Ted DiBiase and Money Inc., yet he comes out to cheers. Why do they get cheers" Because those cheers are stemming from the fans of my generation, who remember when characters like these could be appreciated and succeed in the WWF. A new character who is a carbon copy of Tatanka wouldn't last two weeks in the WWE today. Newer fans would destroy his push before he ever got one. Just as they are doing with Chris Masters today. Yup, I am a Chris Masters fan. He is a throwback character, with a throwback gimmick, and a throwback finisher. From a throwback fan, thank you Chris Masters.

Although I am really disappointed with the way professional wrestling is being viewed upon by today's newer fan, I will continue to watch it. I can't stop. I don't know if I'll ever be able to. Because no matter what, I'll always have memories of times when being a fan only required just that . . . being a fan.

So now I leave it up to my readers to give me some hope that these kinds of fans still exist and are as passionate in my views as I am. This is my first column for OWW, and I would love to write more on hundreds of other topics. But before I write about professional wrestling as it currently stands, I thought it would be best to write about professional wrestling as it once was.

by Michael F. ..


Chuck P. wrote:
First of all, I Completely agree with your column. I also grew up with wrestling in the early 90s and late 80s; growing up with such wrestlers as papa shango, tito santana, kamala, tatanka, and of course my favorite Bret Hitman Hart. I think its a real shame the way the WWE portrays the legends of the squared circle; like Srgt. Slaughter losing to everyone he fights. As we all know he is one of the greatest wrestlers of all time and he loses to Muhammad Hassan, a real no one. Also, Tatanka losing to Eugene" I still can't believe it. Granted he is past his prime but still he could take on anybody that came his way and win. I really think that he is one of the most underrated superstars of all time because he has held a very long winning streak,better than Bill Goldberg's(My humble opinion), and he had only one tag team title and no singles titles. Again, I think your column was great and I too hope that it will return to the way it was sooooo long ago!
Matthew Gunn wrote:
Great column, couldn't agree with you more.What about the cartoony hasbro figures rather than exact detail jakks pacific ones.Love to read more of your columns.
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