WWE: How a Childhood Obsession with Pro Wrestling Has Finally Become Cool

Tom ClarkFeatured ColumnistSeptember 27, 2012

photo by blogs.thescore.com
photo by blogs.thescore.com

Last night I had a dream that John Cena and I traded bodies.  Then, I was standing in the middle of a city street, looking for my--well, John’s Camaro--when suddenly Roddy Piper showed up and offered to help me look for it.

From his helicopter.

It’s safe to say that my lifelong fascination with pro wrestling is really beginning to take over here. Man, I need a new hobby.

Perhaps obsession is a better word for it, as the business has permeated every part of my life.  At this point there is no separating the two.  If you know me personally, whether you are a friend or family member, then you know that I have always been a fan.

And, I was a fan before it was cool.

Growing up in the South, I was a huge NWA fan, and remain one to this day.  Jim Crockett was a constant presence in my home, and Dusty Rhodes was a second father.  Saturday mornings were reserved for Bugs Bunny, then Ric Flair.

Two icons in their respective fields, by the way.  Although, I have always leaned a little more toward Daffy Duck.  Perhaps he was the Roddy Piper of Warner Brothers?

When I was at that age, proclaiming to the world that pro wrestling was great stuff, the Road Warriors were the coolest guys I had ever seen, and that the Rock & Roll Express were king, I was often met with “that look.”

You know that look, right?  The look that says “Oh, I see.  He’s a little slow.  Bless his heart.”

It just wasn’t fashionable to be a fan when I was a kid.  Everyone around me knew what I was talking about, but no one really cared.

After all, pro wrestling was…well, you know.

Yes, even after all these years, it’s still hard to say the word.  We still hear it as fans, I’m sure. Anyone who doesn’t follow the business loves to throw that term around, much at the dismay of every fan in the room.  And, anytime we hear it, we immediately become defensive.

“How about I put you through a table and then you tell me if it felt fake or not.”

But, despite how many adults shook their heads at me, or how many of my friends made fun of me for it, I was a fan for life.  Nothing was going to change that.

And, nothing ever has.

Now that I am a dad, I am passing my love of the business down to my 4-year-old, who is beginning to understand what’s happening, and is starting to pay attention.  When he’s not parked in front of the TV playing the Xbox, or watching SpongeBob, he is sitting beside me on the couch as I watch matches on my laptop.

Some of them are the classic old school Mid-Atlantic Wrestling matches, of course.  Can’t get enough of those.  Sometimes, it’s New Japan, as there is some great talent in that organization.

On that note, if you don’t know who Kota Ibushi is, YouTube him.  Trust me, it’s worth it.

But, for the most part, my son is watching WWE with me.  He knows who the guys are, and immediately recognizes them when he sees them on T-Shirts, or in the toy aisle of Wal-Mart.

His favorite?  CM Punk.  What, you thought I was going to say John Cena?

While John has his legion of adolescent fans out there, the fact is, he has not completely conquered the entire demographic.  My son would tape his fists and sit cross legged on the floor at the drop of a hat, thank you very much.

But, he often waves his hand in front of his face, saying “You can’t see me.”

Okay, John got him too.  The guy is good.

It’s actually pretty cool that these days it’s okay to be a fan.  Yes, you still have critics out there who love to point out the negative aspects of the product, but WWE has done such a great job expanding into pop culture, that they have made being a wrestling fan a more acceptable notion than ever before.

So, to all those who ever made fun of me as a kid, please take note of the fact that as an adult, I have worked in the business, and hung out with Jimmy Valiant, the Rock & Roll Express, the Barbarian and George South.  I have also met John Laurinaitis, as well as interviewed Matt Hardy.

Now, I have combined my love of the business with my passion for writing, and am pretty happy doing it.

So, na na na na na.

Immature, I know.  But, who cares?  I am John Cena, after all.  

Now, where is my car?