Memoirs from the Dossier: The Evolution of a Wrestling Fan, Pt. 1

Sulayman H.Senior Writer IJune 26, 2009

Sifting through the torn and tattered pages of a book with more missing pages than found, the search for lost notes left me weary and doubtful of myself.

It had been a while since I had discovered anything in the notes that interested me.

Has this whole routine become boring? Is there anything that can bring the spark back?

Why did I bother? Why had I spent so much time learning about the polarizing world of professional wrestling?

Why is my fascination with this so strong that it overshadows every other sport that I have come in contact with?

Why did I hold something like sports entertainment so dear to my heart when others ridicule it and look down upon an art form that is not only hard to perform, but impossible to perfect?

Still, I continue to pursue this undying thirst for knowledge. One can never know enough; we all learn something new in life every day.

It is impossible to pinpoint precisely what had piqued my curiosity for wrestling, and it would be a lie to tell you that I remember the exact moment I subconsciously began dedicating my free time to watching, studying, and examining wrestling.

My journey through the world filled with giants like Bret Hart and Ric Flair didn’t start as expected; not with a friend or relative, but it was curiosity that captured my eye as I remember standing in a video rental store staring at a bald man with a look on his face that told you he wasn’t someone you wanted to mess with.

The Indian clerk asked me whether I watched WWF while I had a Disney VHS cassette in my right hand.

What’s he talking about? I responded in the negative and he walked away with a box of disorganized cassettes.

I went home and the incident was soon forgotten.

At our household, we could rent a video per week as a way of relaxing after five days of school and every time I’d go to the store, I’d browse the WWF section more and more and that would lead to many conversations with the clerk regarding these towering figures with menacing, icy stares.

I learned, slowly and steadily, about stars like Shawn Michaels, Sting, Lex Luger, and Yokozuna but it was too early in my childhood for me to retain all the information and by the time I had moved to Dubai, my mind was blank once again.

But this time was different.

I had made up my mind that I would search for tapes and rent them if I could and learn as much as I can.

I asked my father what he knew of wrestling and his pithy reply was: “You know something, brother?” and when I responded with a resounding “What?” he laughed and walked away.

The next day, he told me all about Jimmy Hart and Hulk Hogan and I asked him if we could rent videos, but I was disappointed when he deemed it too violent for a boy of my age. (I was seven at the time.)

A rude awakening had ruined my mood when my brother literally screamed in my left ear: “Our neighbor just got a PlayStation, come on!”

I was about to smack him in between the third and fourth rib before my scowl turned into a grin. Soon, I was staring at Kane and the Rock battling it out on a TV set.

I heard random retorts from both my brother and his friend Suhail, including: “You better watch your tongue before the Rock puts a camera in your mouth!”

All hope was not lost after all.

I still had a source from which to learn about wrestling, but things really started turning around the following week when I found out that my father would be making trips back and forth between here and Tanzania, much to the chagrin of my mother.

And you know the old saying, when the cat is away, the mice will play.

I would rent not one, not two or three or four, but sometimes up to five wrestling tapes every week.

It didn’t matter to me if I couldn’t watch all of it; all I knew was that I had to capitalize on my dad’s absence, and the non-existence of a conscience helped me a great deal in successfully sneaking wrestling-related material past my mother.

During that time, I had also started going for private tutoring. I was weak in a few subjects, notably science, so I had a nice little walk everyday and came back with a noggin full of ideas, theories, and concepts.

It was in the private tutoring that I would meet a devoted fan of professional wrestling. He was shuffling cards around and asked me to play with him.

I frankly told him that I didn’t know any card games. He told me to flip them and what would once again put a smile on my face: they turned out to be wrestling stats cards!

What encouraged me to work twice as hard with my tutor was that I would increase my work rate and finish all of my work before the allotted time.

The rest of my time would be given to challenging that friend in a stats challenge where I would lose very frequently, mostly because I didn’t know which stats to pick and when.

That didn’t faze me as I was introduced to the Road Warriors, Gangrel, Edge and Christian, and other notable stars of the '90s.

When I picked up a card that fell out of my grip and gazed upon the image of a leviathan called Yokozuna, the flood gates opened and my conversations with the clerk came back to mind.

All of a sudden, I exclaimed: “His Banzai drop is deadly!”

He responded: “I know, he did it to Hogan and he couldn’t kick out of it.”

We talked and discussed favorites together, with mine being Shawn Michaels and his being Ric Flair.

He’d show me posters of wrestlers like Dusty Rhodes and Randy Savage, and I would invite him to my home to watch tapes of PPVs of the Attitude Era.

The next few years passed and the wealth of information that I gained over the five years was now being replaced with newer information that I came across in my daily life.

Everything in my life started to change drastically, and it isn’t comforting when one finds out that wrestling is scripted.

My brother shrugged it off, saying that he didn’t care that much for it anyway.

And his friend, Suhail, began to spend more and more time analyzing cricket rather than watch wrestling on TV.

Slowly but surely, the ties I had so lovingly shared were being severed at an alarming rate for one so young.

My school work began to take over and I was no longer in contact with my friend.

But the death blow delivered to my love for pro wrestling came when the video store that had WWF videos closed down and any attempt to find wrestling videos ended in utter discouragement.

I finally gave up on wrestling, just like my brother had done a few years ago, but my mind still wandered and wondered whether I would get a glimpse of the greatest spectacle ever again.

I knew that fate would not deal me a cruel hand for long.

But the journey back to the annals of wrestling history wouldn’t be easy.


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