Sometimes words just aren't enough. How do you explain to your friends, family, loved ones who don't watch pro wrestling what it's all about. You can't just explain to them the goosebumps you get from watching Austin stare down Rock at WrestleMania 17. They'll never understand why you have New School on loop. They don't understand why you buy your favorite pay per views on DVD when you have them DVR'ed, burned on a disk and downloaded on your comp. It's a special thing when you realize you learned all of O'Canada from the entrance song of Team Canada. But your loved one's just think your crazy.
How do you explain to someone that when you see Mick Foley thrown off the Cell you still pray that he's ok.
It's not good enough to tell them, because often times words are lost on many. But visuals are hard to forget. Wrestling is about more then just people beating the hell out of each other with a predetermined finish. It's more then just the pageantry and the over the top persona's. Hell it's even more then the physicality we see in the ring on a nightly basis. It's a story telling that the likes of Broadway could only hope to capture. Often times people say that Pro Wrestling is a male's version of a Soap Opera. I find that insulting, as most wrestlers can out act a soap opera star on any given night. Pro wrestling has fans investing real emotions with these wrestlers, they have a connection that soap opera stars could never, and will never have with their core audience.
Show me an episode where someone dies in a soap opera and I'll show you a fan who is just "annoyed" that the character in question died before the fan would of liked. Show me a wrestling match where there is a sign that says "IF CENA WINS, WE RIOT" and you believe that's a real threat. Is that to say that wrestling fans are more violent in nature? Compared to what? Ohio State fans who burn down downtown Columbus after their team goes undefeated? No pro wrestling fans are not more violent by nature, they are just more emotionally involved by nature. They know there are clear boundaries to their actions that they can cross. There are things that are and aren't ok to do. Throw colorful rolls of streamers at a wrestler to start a match? Sure. Whip whip steel chairs into the ring? Completely acceptable. Attacking a wrestler? Now that's where 99.9% of fans draw the line. Are there still assholes who try? Of coarse there are. But that's not a reflection of wrestling fans.
But back to the point. Pro wrestling when done right, is more like a well done play, it captivates thousands in attendance and millions at home. It is powerful enough to drive a fan to to scream at certain wrestlers after something horrific has happened. It's enough to make you shout like a kid again when your favorite wrestler does the impossible, and it's powerful and real enough to draw tears out of you when tragedy strikes. I dare anyone to watch the national anthem to start off the September 13th, 2001 edition of Smackdown and not at least get a little sentimental. That night not just wrestling fans, but citizens of this great country stood up and declared in one voice, we are not afraid. It was a moment that transcended wrestling. And it was a moment that brought people to tears.
Wrestling is not a perfect beast. In trying to explain our love affair, people will point to the early deaths, the drug abuse, and the Chris Benoit situation as reasons why we are insane for liking it. I often take a moment to respond to these points because they are valid. And I respond the only way I can: Nothing in this world is perfect. We are all imperfect beings, so why do we look at something and need it to be perfect? Pro Wrestling is less evil then we see it, because the news will never report on the good that it does. Perry Saturn once got shot in the neck because he was attempting to help a women in need. Bam Bam Bigelow once got 2nd degree burns helping rescue three children from a burning house. Sonny Siaki gave up his career voluntarily to save his brothers life with a kidney transplant. Where's the news covering these stories? Where's the people interviewing men like Shawn Michaels, Sting, Goldberg, The Rock and others for all their work with organizations like Make A Wish foundation and other notable charities.
Only wrestling fans hear about stories like little Timmy Mock of Burlington ND. Never heard this one? Well straight from the pages of an old WCW magazine the story goes like this; Timmy was hit by a car one night while his family was in town for a WCW show. He broke his leg and needed immediate medical attention and was rushed to the hospital. He was guaranteed to miss the show that night. Right before surgery though WCW employee Scott Armstrong came into his room and gave him a bunch of autographed merchandise from WCW; turns out his family had gotten a messege to the people over at the WCW wrestlers hotel. After surgery he received a phone call from Dean Malenko and Chris Benoit saying that they'd see him the next morning. True to their word there they were at 8:30 with a magazine signed by all the WCW wrestlers. This is what pro wrestling is all about and the real fans know this.
It's stories like that, which area not as rare as you might think, that keep the wrestling fans interested after each Earth shattering moment like Owen Hart's untimely accident.
But there is still yet more to pro wrestling. Focusing on the matches alone, they have always been able to draw your emotions into a match. And it's that rare and unexplainable phenomena that can't every truly be explained. Yes it's fake, but tell me that as I'm watching Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels lay it on the line for a full hour of non stop wrestling. Tell me it's fake as I watch Christopher Daniels leap from a corner in an Ultimate X match to the center of a structure that is at least 20 feet above the floor. Tell yourself that as you hear 68,237 people chant for both Hulk Hogan and The Rock at WrestleMania 18. You wouldn't be able to.
It's moments like the Chris Jericho and Dean Malenko feud of WCW back in 1998 that people will never forget. Jericho for months insulted and belittled the great Malenko family, who are held in high regard for their professionalism and respect for wrestling. Jericho went as far to beat Dean Malenko and then insult his deceased father. It rattled Dean so much that he left WCW. Jericho then became involved in a short feud with a man that respects the Malenko family, Juventud Guerrera. It lead up to a battle royal and match at Slamboree 1998 that no one saw coming. I'm going to attempt to explain the emotion and the reactions, but I would rather you watch those videos instead; as they capture the true emotions of the event. Jericho expected to see Juvi (Juventued Guerrera) in the title match that would immediately follow the battle royal. He was the clear favorite to win this event. The match had luchadores from Mexico (luchardores is the Mexican term for wrestlers and are often seen wearing masks) and up and coming young prospects from WCW. Juvi was one of the last 5 also involving 2 masked wrestlers Ciclope and Psychosis, as well as WCW stars Billy Kidman and Chavo Guerrero (no relation to Juvi). Save for Ciclope, all other four men had a real shot of winning the event. Within a minute of the final five taking shape, Pyschosis, Chavo Guerrero and Billy Kidman were eliminated, leaving just Cicolpe and Juvi. Everyone thought it was going to be Juvi, because no one thought Ciclope could beat Juvi. Turns out Juvi showed respect to Ciclope and then leaped out of the ring, thus eliminating himself. That meant that Jericho would face the relative unknown Ciclope for the Cruiserweight Championship.
Jericho came down to the ring after Juvi eliminated himself and as he was about to enter the ring, Ciclope bent over and started to remove his mask. After he did, the crowd gave on of it's largest ovations of all time as the masked wrestler revealed himself to be none other then Jericho's nemesis Dean Malenko. The reaction of the crowd was what sealed this moment as an all time classic. Crowds can always make a moment greater then it is, and on the flip side, not as important as it should be.
One of the greatest examples of this was in fact at WrestleMania 18 between Hollywood Hulk Hogan and The Rock. The match was back and forth, with the crowd eventually turning on the Rock in favor of The Hulkster, Rock though had Hogan dead to rights as he set him up for his finisher; The Rock Bottom. I'll let the video do the speaking for me.
It's not hard to understand a little now why we are fans. People who aren't regular fans or even casual fans might not get it still, but I guarantee you, if given enough time they will. Maybe not to our extent but they will.
Want to make your loved one see why we love what we love? It's simple, find the most emotional moments in wrestling from your perspective and show them. Don't explain them unless you have to. Let them live in the moment that you have for so long. Let them have the opportunity to loose themselves in this. If you do, if you show them exactly why you love it; then maybe, hopefully they will to.
Why do you love wrestling? Go ahead and share your thoughts. But please don't be a fan boy and tell us what you hate, or what company is better, just tell us what made you fall in love with wrestling.
That's it folks, that's my column. Be excellent to one another and do good. I have to go find Sting vs. Ric Flair from The Great American Bash 1990 and go show some people what made me a fan. As always, never be afraid to dance on the Other Side. Peace out Monkeys and Minions!
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