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WRESTLING COLUMNS

Don't Worry, It's Fake
October 21, 2006 by Nick Harvey


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I don't speak of it in public. When I do discuss it the discussions are in my head or using the anonymousness of the internet. I almost never take it any semblance of it outside. I've lost interest in it numerous times, but I always come back. When I follow it, I follow it religiously. The others who follow it are just as rabid, some even more. You cannot be casual about it. It is a ridiculous thing to take seriously, but I take it seriously and I'm not the only one. Football is a serious sport and it is the most popular sport in the country by far, but this isn't football. Baseball is America's national pastime, it is rich in history and prestige, but this isn't baseball. Basketball comes in third in popular sports in America, it can be played by all due to it requiring very little equipment and a person can play it by themselves, but this isn't basketball. Even NASCAR has a somewhat large mainstream following and it is simply cars driving around in a circle, and this definitely isn't NASCAR. This is the male soap opera, this is sports entertainment, this is professional wrestling. It is a unique brand of entertainment. It is not exactly a sport, like football, and it is not exactly a completely fictional television show, like The O.C.

Professional wrestling and I have an odd relationship. Yes, it is grown men in tights pretending to beat each other up, but it's been a passion of mine since I can remember. I haven't always been loyal to it, at one point I went three years without watching a show. I always come back to it though and every time I come back our relationship grows stronger. My earliest memory of professional wrestling is watching a commercial for a WWF house show when I was seven years old, though I know I was a fan before that. Back then I still thought wrestling was genuine, but I soon realized that it was scripted. (Even now though I refuse to label it as fake because people do get hurt and it can be just as brutal as it seems.) My realization that pro wrestling was not what it tried to portray did not deter me from being a fan.

The closest that I've ever been to pro wrestling was in 1997 when my mom took me and my best friend to a WWF house show. That was the only show I've attended live and it might have been the peak of my relationship with professional wrestling. About three years after that my relationship with wrestling reached an all time low. I wasn't watching it and I cared very little about it and wrestling is the kind of thing you have to watch every week to get the whole story, because there are no reruns and no weeks off. At that point in my life I just lost interest in wrestling and I had plenty of other activities to keep me busy after I dropped wrestling. But, like I always do I came back and wrestling was more than happy to have me back. Since our relationship got back on track it has only gotten stronger. But it is always being tested.

Usually when a person admits to being a fan of professional wrestling they are looked at like they have leprosy. They are looked down upon and asked questions like, "Why do you like that stuff"' and "You know it's fake, don't you"" But, my relationship with wrestling will not be destroyed by condescending and ignorant people. It is much too strong for that. Professional wrestling is looked at like it is a joke and it is never taken seriously in popular culture and for the most part it probably shouldn't be. A little respect would be nice though. They say whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger and I guess that applies to this relationship. Through all the criticism and laughter the relationship pro wrestling and I share always comes out more powerful than ever.

I can't blame people for questioning my bond with wrestling, I can understand where they're coming from. Professional wrestling isn't shown on ESPN, your not going to see it in a primetime network spot on CBS coming on after CSI, and you'll have to look very hard to find anything on the radio about it. The only time most people are exposed to it is the total six hours it is on cable television. But, there are times when wrestling becomes acceptable in the mainstream. During the 80's wrestling was huge all thanks to Hulk Hogan, someone who is a household name even now. There was another boom in wrestling popularity during the late 90's spearheaded by "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, another name most people recognize. But, my interest started in between these eras. I grew up cheering for good guys like Bret Hart while rooting against bad guys like the evil sumo wrestler Yokozuna. I can't explain why I started watching wrestling, I guess the outlandish characters and the not so graphic violence amazed my young mind. These days it is more difficult to explain my continued fascination with pro wrestling considering I know that the results are predetermined and the wrestlers are merely acting like they hate each other. Maybe it is the appreciation I have for a beautiful, five star match that suspends my disbelief. It's like watching baseball game, the players go out there and most of them get out, while some get on base with a single, double, or any other way, but then someone hit's a 500 foot home run and it makes you question if he really is human. Maybe I am a wrestling fan because every show a wrestler will go out and put his career, and sometimes his life, on the line for me and all the other fans. Maybe it's because some of the highest paid professional wrestlers work over 300 days a year and make considerably less money than baseball pitchers who work 73 days a year. Maybe it's because pro wrestling is the only sport that will change solely because the fans want it to. People will get fired because the fans no longer want to watch them and others will be hired because the fans demand them on their television screen. Terrell Owens won't be released even though the fans hate him more than they hate Kim Jong Il. Maybe it's because professional wrestlers do what they do because they love it. Wrestlers don't do it for the money, they don't get paid enough for the punishment they endure. You see greed in every other sport. A football player will pack up and leave a team whose fans adore him if the check is big enough.

Not everything in wrestling is pure and good. There is a dark side to it and sometimes it can be more vile and despicable than a South Park episode. Some wrestlers have been fired for speaking out against the boss, others for just getting hurt. One popular wrestler was even murdered backstage at an event. What could be considered the worst thing a wrestling promotion can do is exploit the death of a former wrestler, just to build a storyline and make money. For example, WWE wrestler Eddie Guerrero died in November of 2005 and it wasn't more than two weeks after his death that his car was set on fire during a show and his named was unflatteringly being mention to get the fans to hate a certain wrestler. These type of actions should be enough to make me stop watching, but I don't or maybe I just can't. I could have a problem.

The change this relationship has gone through since the beginning is remarkable. In the beginning I was a little kid amazed by the eccentric characters and as I grew older I started to really appreciate the art of wrestling. I haven't watched a show in weeks, but I do follow it on the internet almost everyday. I still have a great interest in it I just don't have a lot of time now with classes and other activities. I do plan to attend another show sometime in the near future and as far as I can tell I will continue to watch it until, of course, I lose interest in it again.

by Nick Harvey ..


V. Soga wrote:
Sadly, the title to this particular article should have been an indication to me for how pointless it would be. Other than a dull explanation for why you like wrestling (though you also strangely explain that you periodically lose interest in it) this, in my mind, was an article which should certainly not have been published on the site.
Brent Matthew Denny wrote:
I agree with most of the things you've said in your column Nick H. I myself have been a wrestling fan from the age of about 2-3. I started by watching British Wrestling my favourites being Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks and then after a visit to my Uncle's house and after watching WWF I lost interest in British Wrestling and became a fan of American Wrestling/WWF. An I have been one ever since and I have never stopped being a fan after all these years.

However the way I found out that wrestling wasn't real I'm sure is very different to how alot of other fans find out that wrestling wasn't real. Back in 1991 at Survivor Series Hulk Hogan lost the WWF Championship to The Undertaker and people where saying that Hulkamaina was dead. I was only 7 years old at the time and I started having nightmares because of my hero Hulk Hogan being defeated by The Undertaker and people saying Hulk Hogan/Hulkamaina was dead. An stop the nightmares that I was having my mum told me that wrestling wasn't real (that it was fake) eventually the nightmares stopped but my love for wrestling never stopped.

Yes I now know that it's scripted and everything else but when I am sat down and watching a PPV or whatever I'm not thinking about that in point of fact I totally forget that it is fake that is the furthest thing from my mind. The only thing that I am focused and interested in is if my hero's are going to defeat their opponents and if there is a title on the line are they going to win the title and I would just like to point out that I am now 23 years old.

An I have gone through the same thing I'm sure alot of other fans have gone through which is basically being made fun of because I love wrestling. An yes I have had people ask me why I watch it and if I know it's fake etc and you know what those people can do" Two things 1: Heckle me all they want and 2: Go straight to hell because nothing they say or anybody says is ever going to change my love for wrestling.

An I know that there are alot of things that have happened in wrestling over the years that people don't like for example the use of Eddie Guerrero's name being used in a storyline as well as The Montreal Screwjob. An although loads of people hate that angle for the use of Eddie's name. I personally loved it and found nothing wrong with it what so ever. For this reason Randy Orton the character and Randy Orton the person are two different people. So while Randy Orton the character told Rey that Eddie isn't up in heaven he's down in hell I know that that is just the character talking it's not Randy Orton's real life point of view (at least I hope it's not)

An as for the Screwjob I'll just go so far as to say two things 1: I'm on Vince McMahon's side and 2: Bret Hart screwed Bret Hart.

Basically I personally do not think that wrestling has ever gone too far nor do I think wrestling Vince McMahon the WWE etc has ever done anything majorly wrong at least they haven't done anything that has made me personally hate them. I have learned that when it comes to wrestling/WWE/Vince McMahon this is the bottom line.

Vince McMahon/The WWE will do anything to entertain the fans and he/they don't tell you what to find funny entertaining or even offensive they just show you something for example the Katie Vick and Triple H segment of the show and let you be the judge and allow you to give your own opinion on weather you found that funny entertaining or offensive. An alot of people found it offensive I personally found funny. An the same thing goes for wrestlers Vince doesn't tell you who to hate and who to like he just gives the guys a character and see's how the fans respond.

Example: Stone Cold Steve Austin when he first became "The Rattlesnake" the powers that be within the WWE tried to push him as the bad guy but everything he done that was "bad" was cheered and so he became the good guy.

Basically what I am trying to say is that just like Nick Harvey I am a loyal devoted die hard wrestling/WWE Fan and I probably will be until the day I die.
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