WWE and Me
Like any boy, or some girls, born in 1981, The World Wrestling Federation was a big part of my childhood. Along with my friends, I first found wrestling in Junior School, in fact I think that one of my friends was into wrestling a bit earlier, watching WCW on TV before us, but in any case, with the explosion of the WWF in the late 80’s we were all soon firm fans. A local video shop, Tapeaway, now sadly closed, had a selection of Wrestlemanias on video, and it was the weekend tradition that we would take turns in renting the videos, watching them, and then beating the living shit out of each other for the rest of the day, bliss.
As I write this, I have remembered that watching these videos, was not my first exposure to the world of wrestling. I can remember being in town with my Mum, in Woolworths in fact, and due to having done something of note in school, was allowed to pick a toy. Now there were a lot of cool figures to choose from, but one series in particular called out to me, and one figure above all others. I had no idea who Machoman Randy Savage was or what he did, but he looked like the greatest thing on the toy shelf. Choice made, Macho became the first of dozens of WWF figures I would rabidly collect. It was with Machoman, that my interest was peaked, I asked my friend to tell me about wrestling, found out all I could, and in a short time, had become obsessed with large men beating each other up.
Hulk Hogan was the star of the time, there were few things as exciting to my child brain than hearing Real American blast over the speakers, as the Hulkster made his way to the ring. But Hogan was not my favourite, I had always liked Machoman, he looked so cool in figure form, my favourite however, was The Ultimate Warrior. I now know that the Warrior is not considered a great wrestler, but I don’t care I loved his energy, he sprinted to the ring, he was crazy, he had face paint and shouted and screamed in his promo videos, and he had the best finishing move, the gorilla press/big splash combo. His wrestling card was a treasured possession, but there were so many great characters. Brutus ‘The Barber’ Beefcake, Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts, The Undertaker, Warlord and Andre the Giant. Then there were the tag teams, The Legion of Doom, Demolition, The Rockers and The Hart Foundation. So many colourful characters, so much amazing action.
I remember watching Summerslam at Wembley Stadium, sadly not in the crowd, but on Sky. I was enthralled. My favourite memory however, of watching wrestling was one Christmas morning. My Grandparents were over for the day, and my Granddad seemed impressed with my wrestling ring and figures, we found out that Sky was showing a compilation of greatest matches that was on before lunch. It turned out, Gramps loved wrestling, he had never seen WWF before but we spent a wonderful morning watching many matches, with me telling him who these crazy guys were and who to cheer for or boo. The programme culminated in the greatest match I had ever seen, at that point. Hulk Hogan vs. The Ultimate Warrior, champion vs champion at Wrestlemania VI. I don’t think I could quite believe it, two of the greatest good guys in wrestling having a match. I can remember my Mum and Nan calling us to dinner, which we managed to delay until the match was over, a great day, a great time.
But why? Why did I like this weird spectacle? I think initially it was the cartoon aspect of the wrestlers. These guys were real life superheroes, they flew around the ring, they were stronger than anyone on earth, and they personified good and evil, at least for me. I still remember when Shawn Michaels threw his partner Marty Janetty through the glass window of Brutus Beefcakes Barber shop, and running to get my Mum to watch, I couldn’t believe it. Or when Jake Roberts got a cobra to bite the Machoman, or when Hulk Hogan slammed Andre the Giant. However, wrestling was a fad like everything else, and when I got older, my love of wrestling faded, I knew it wasn’t real any more, and I didn’t want to watch it, it wasn’t cool. As my love of wrestling faded, so did the fortunes of the WWF. The big stars moved to it’s major rival, WCW, and for years I didn’t know who was world champ, and didn’t care.
Now if this was a film, this is where a montage would kick in. Imagine if you will images of From Dusk Till Dawn, trying to talk to girls, under-age drinking, GCSE’s and trying to talk to more girls…and then one night….
Oooooo that’s right, I’m gona leave it for this time. I’ll be back soon to continue chronicling my ups and downs with the WWF/WWE, so what you gona do Brotha? Well, read it would be nice.