This year, WWE brings Extreme Rules to the Windy City, Chicago, and I will be in attendance.
Even though I have been a fan of wrestling since I was a wee lad, this will be my first pay-per-view. Because this event will be my first non-house show, I thought I would put together a little daily diary in the week leading up to the event.
These will not be articles pertaining to the matches or the event itself, but rather a trip down memory lane as I look back on wrestling history throughout the years from my own perspective as a fan.
With this being the first in a series of seven articles, I thought it would only be appropriate to go into how I first became a fan.
I had always been aware of pro wrestling as a young child. I was born on Hulk Hogan's birthday in 1983, and in the 80s wrestling was huge. Most of the credit for bringing wrestling into more households can be attributed to one man—Hulk Hogan.
Despite the thousands of other wrestlers around the world who busted their asses every day to put on a good show, there is no denying the impact Hogan had on the industry.
He took everything to another level, and without him we may not have the wrestling product we know today. Whether that is a good or a bad thing is debatable.
At first, I did not see wrestling as anything special. In fact. I could tell it was fake from a very early age for a few reasons.
One reason I could tell it was not real was because I was a big fan of action movies, particularly martial-arts movies featuring anyone from Bruce Lee to Jean-Claude Van Dam.
Just from seeing these films and the way people fought in them, I knew that wrestling was fake. I would think to myself "No one would stand there and watch as someone ran at them with a big boot in the air."
I began studying martial arts when I was six, and that cemented in my mind the fact that wrestlers were not really fighting. As I watched matches, I always wondered why no one would try to block things or move out of the way. Then I realized it was because they wanted to be hit, because it was all planned out.
It was not until I was at a friend's house who was an avid wrestling fan that I truly began to appreciate what the business had to offer. He was watching whatever show aired on Saturdays back then, and I was spending the night, so I decided to just watch it rather than suggest something else.
It was not Hulk Hogan who appealed to me first, even thought there was no denying he was pretty cool at the time. The man who made me watch and want to keep watching was The Ultimate Warrior.
Anyone can say what they want about the man today—he is crazy, he has a huge ego or even that he is outright stupid, but back then he was the man.
When his music hit and he ran down the aisle, shaking his fists in the air as he showing off his war paint and incredible strength, I knew I was a fan for life.
The sheer entertainment value alone is what got me hooked. It was like watching superheroes who actually walked among us instead of just in the pages of comic books and in cartoons, and they were even cooler because they were normal people who became awesome through hard work and dedication.
Jim Hellwig was just a man, but the Ultimate Warrior was a monster who kids actually liked instead of feared like the ones they suspected were hiding under their beds.
Once I was a part of the Warrior Nation, I began to notice other wrestlers who appealed to me, both baby face and heel.
Eventually, I had a big list of favorites who I would pay attention to and track through magazines like Wrestling World, Pro Wrestling Illustrated and WWF Magazine.
Once the 90s rolled around, I had begun to cheer for the wrestlers who seemed like they had the most talent and not just the coolest look or biggest muscles.
Guys like Bret Hart, Ric Flair and The British Bulldog stand out as some of the people I believed were the best in the business, because they always had the most entertaining matches in my opinion.
It was the non-WWE magazines that exposed me to the world of wrestling outside of the WWF and NWA/WCW promotions.
I began reading about people like Tiger Mask and Rey Mysterio (the original), who were making waves in Japan and Mexico. Eventually some of the stars in these other countries would make their way to the US, and I would be excited because I was already familiar with them.
By the time I was seven, I had already begun collecting trading cards and action figures and had a big stack of magazines my mother probably hated because I refused to let her throw them away.
As a fan of wrestling for more than 20 years, I have seen the industry go through many changes, but the basic principle is still the same: Go out and have the best match. That is why I have continued to be a fan to this day.
Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed my little trip down memory lane. Please feel free to share your story on how you first became a wrestling fan below.
Tomorrow I will be looking back on the first wrestling show I attended live as a child, so make sure to check back throughout the week.
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