“You actually consider pro wrestling a sport?”…”Are professional wrestlers really athletes?”…”You know pro wrestling is fake, right?”
These are just a few examples of questions I get when I share the fact that I am a fan of professional wrestling. Yes, I consider pro wrestling a sport; yes, professional wrestlers are athletes; but no, I do not consider wrestling to be fake, it is choreographed and scripted. If it were fake there would be no injuries, there would be no passion, and I could never love anything for 20 years if it were fake.
It was in March of 1998, the night after WrestleMania 14. My brother was watching Raw is War on the television in the living room. A guy with long blond hair and a leather jacket was on the screen and it caught my eye.
All of a sudden I quit playing with my Hot Wheels and became glued to the TV. At the time I did not know what he was talking about but he kept bringing up a ball and how when you’re in trouble you look to friends to help you out. Music started playing and out walked another guy who was also wearing a leather jacket but had dark black hair. I distinctly remember my brother Tyler getting very excited about this other guy. When I asked him who it was he said, “That’s the 1-2-3 Kid!”
Apparently, my brother had been a big fan of Sean Waltman, known as the “1-2-3 Kid” in the World Wrestling Federation during the early 90’s before he departed for the WCW. The two guys then started to hug and it was clear to me they must have been best friends or perhaps even brothers as far as I knew. If my brother was such a big fan of the “1-2-3 Kid”, then I wanted to be a fan of the blond haired guy. Little did I know at that moment I had started a love affair that is approaching its 20 year anniversary. A love affair that would spark a passion inside of me that burns even brighter today.
For those of you who are still wondering, I am referring to the night that the blond haired guy, known much better as Triple H, and the “1-2-3 Kid” who had begun to go by the name X-Pac, started a new version of the faction D-Generation X. Ever since that hug and seeing my brother’s reaction to X-Pac, I was Triple H’s biggest fan going forward. I continued watching the rest of Raw that night with my brother but the rest is a blur. Over the years as I grew older I engulfed myself in everything WWF, known now as WWE.
I started asking for action figures during trips to stores, I wanted to get wrestling movies now instead of cartoons, and I started watching Raw is War every Monday night at 8:00 on the dot. The storytelling and larger-than-life characters that were the center point of the stories drew me in closer and closer every time I watched. I was lucky enough to begin watching during the rise of Stone Cold Steve Austin and his feud with Mr. McMahon. Characters like The Rock, Kane, and of course The Undertaker were like nothing I had ever seen before but none of them compared to coolness and intensity of Triple H.
Wrestling was always there for me. Every single Monday night and eventually every Thursday and Sunday nights too. When my parents were going through their divorce I had WWE wrestling that I could escape to. When my older brothers moved away from home and I essentially became an only child, I had WWE wrestling to keep me company. When my mom and I moved around while I was younger I had WWE wrestling to be my constant. Right before I moved to California I was able to attend a Monday Night Raw with my father. When my brother died in July of 2016 I had the memories of attending a live WWE event with him ten years prior to his passing.
Today, I can look at my collection of wrestling figures and think of a simpler time when all I had to worry about was how McMahon would screw Austin on Monday, or who would win the Royal Rumble, or when Triple H would get his WWE Championship back. I can also look at my trio of Ultimate Warrior figures. One that is a new Mattel model, one that is a retro model still in the packaging, and the most important being one of the original Hasbro models that belonged to my late brother Tyson, who was a wrestling fan in his own right.
So to me, professional wrestling can never be fake and I hope none of you ever consider it fake. Yes the matches are scripted and the moves are choreographed but these athletes spend most of their time on the road to entertain us. Sports entertainment is their passion and it is what drives them which is why fans are so passionate. WWE Superstars at one point or another were just fans who watched a moment unfolding on TV and fell in love and were blessed enough to make it their livelihood.
I have had a wonderful 20 years of interaction with pro wrestling and it has been there for me every step of the way. Even when I didn’t have time to watch every Raw or every Pay-Per-View because of sports or girls, it was there waiting for me when I was ready to be engulfed again. I look at a wrestling match today and I see art. Every match starts with a blank canvas and a lot of the time it comes out as a kindergarten finger painting but then you get that rare Picasso that you can get lost in and leaves you wanting more and more. Nonetheless, both are still artwork and you have to appreciate the effort and risk it took to put that on display for the world to see and critique. Pro wrestling is my passion and I look forward to at least 50 more years being a fan.