I know the following phrases here will not be new to anyone who is a fan of wrestling:
"It's for rednecks."
"It's a bunch of sweaty men rolling around in their underwear."
"It's nothing but 'roided-up fake athletes."
We've all heard one, some or all of those phrases at some point in our lifetime of being a wrestling fan. Some people choose to get offended and some let the comments roll off their shoulder (myself being the latter).
I usually have no problem with ignoring people's hatred for wrestling. To each their own. What usually catches me off guard is when someone asks me the question "What do you love so much about wrestling?"
I always seem to know the answer in my brain and my heart, but I am never able to really give a definitive answer as to why. After giving it some thought, I have come up with the three reasons for why I have a love for the business.
Reason 1: The Foundation
As wrestling fans, we all had our "start" with it at some time or another. It mostly depends on age. Me being 24, I started watching around 1991 at the age of five.
The guy who made me fall in love with wrestling was Bret "The Hitman" Hart. His ability to put on a great match, stand up for what was right and always overcome the bad guys really made me love him. He was one of my first "heroes" as a child. He would remain my favorite guy in the business until he left for WCW in 1997. He still remains tied as my favorite wrestler of all time to this day.
What he did was open up a window to a world I found to be amazing. The way these guys looked, acted and performed was spellbinding to my five-year-old mind. As I got older, I began to look at the world of wrestling a lot different.
Around the age of eight or nine, I discovered the thing every wrestling fan has to discover at some point or another: That it's scripted, predetermined and planned out 100 percent—or fake, as the non-fans will usually describe it.
Did that change my love for wrestling? Not one bit! All it did was give me a chance to look at the business from many different aspects and grow to love it even more.
Then, as my interest began to waiver a little bit around the 1996-1997 area, something came along in the form of a rebirth. That rebirth is now known simply as the "Attitude Era."
To me, it's the best era in the history of professional wrestling and, without it, I am not sure where the wrestling world would be today. It was guys like Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, Triple H, The Undertaker, Mankind, Kurt Angle, Chris Jericho, Mr. McMahon, DX, Kane and so many more that made WWF television must-see television.
It was an era of great wrestling, storytelling and compelling characters with flaws, strength and charisma. When I think of "the past," this is the era that gives me most of the moments and memories that I go back to.
This brings me to my second reason:
Reason 2: The Moments
All fans of wrestling, sports entertainment, etc. have the moments that truly define what has made them love the business.
Older fans will say Hogan vs. Andre. Lots will say HBK vs. Razor at WM X in the Ladder Match. Others site a Stone Cold match as one, but we all have those moments that define our fandom.
What makes these moments great is that they don’t always have to be matches. For me, many of the moments that stay in my mind and heart didn’t take place during a match. Many did. What matters most is that the moment stuck, and still sticks to this day.
The moment can be something as simple as The Ultimate Warrior’s theme music to the first time HBK won the title, but the simplicity of the moment doesn’t take away from the fact of how important it is. The moments range for me. They range from the first time I ever saw Bret Hart live, to Chris Jericho’s WWF(E) debut, to Backlash 2000 when Austin helped The Rock become champion or even when Vince McMahon returned in 2000 after being “screwed” by his daughter.
The fact is that I can watch these moments over and over again and they have the exact same effect on me as they did the day they happened.
Moments will always be a part of the business. They will forever shape the way we look at the business. WWE, WCW, TNA, etc.—they have all given us moments. The moments don’t even have to be good ones. The point is that they take us on a ride for two to three hours every week and give us something to look forward to.
Moments are what made me a fan. Moments are what keep me a fan. Moments are what will bring in new fans. Moments are forever.
Reason 3: The Unknown
Like a movie, book, soap opera or video game, the thing that keeps us coming back to any form of entertainment is the surprise factor—wondering what is going to happen next. Wrestling is no different.
Many people call wrestling a “Male Soap Opera.” In many ways, they may be right. We are given different characters. They are loveable, hateable, goofy, cartoon-like and just plain fun. We cheer who we love and boo who we hate. It’s the simplest thing in the world.
“Why do we care what happens to our favorites if we know it’s fake?” Well, it’s the same reason we rooted for Rocky in all his boxing matches: Because he makes us love him and takes us on a journey we love to go on.
Wrestling may not be “real” but like a good movie or book, it can take us on an emotional ride we aren’t expecting.
The most important seems to be the element of surprise—the moments that brought us to our feet and made us call a friend to see if they were watching. It’s the one moment we watch over and over again on YouTube because of the thrill it gives us.
With all that in mind, I would like to bring home my third reason with personal examples of why this is (to many people) the most relevant reason to love wrestling.
Recently in WWE, there have been some shocking moments that some fans have been waiting for forever. There was one moment in February of 2011 that combined all those things and then some: The return of The Rock.
The Rock came back to the WWE and it set the world of wrestling on fire. It’s the kind of moment we live for. We all knew there was going to be a host for WrestleMania, but we didn’t know who until they walked out. There were rumors flying, but none of us knew for sure.
Then the lights went out and the speakers blasted words many had been waiting seven years to hear again: “IF YA SMELLLLLL!!!......”
Seeing “The Great One” again was almost a reminder of why I love wrestling and why I keep watching even when things are not at their best. I want to be able to say I was watching when The Rock made his return and gave the best promo the company has had in quite some time. I was like a kid.
I “marked out” and jumped up and down upon finding out it was The Rock to be hosting WrestleMania. It was extra special because, like I said earlier, I have a tie for my favorite wrestler of all time with Bret Hart. Well, The Rock is that other No. 1.
It’s a moment like Rock’s return that keeps me coming back. It’s the element of surprise—or the unknown—that made it even better.
We all love the business. We also love to hate it, talk about it, watch it, re-watch it, attend it and share it with others. There is nothing like talking with other wrestling fans. Bonding with other fans by sharing your moments, knowledge, favorites and least favorites.
Wrestling is an art, a sport and a form of entertainment. It’s taken us on journeys, helped us bond with people, created memories and most of all, given us something to love. It doesn’t matter if my reasons for loving wrestling are the same as yours or not; what matters is that something brought you to the crazy world of wrestling and, like me, you have a passion and a love for it. That alone is enough to bring people closer together.
Escapism is prevalent in every person’s life. Along with pro sports, wrestling has always been my top way to escape the pressures of real life. For that, I owe thanks to the world of wrestling. To quote a famous wrestling fan on YouTube: “It’s still real to me, damn it!!!!”
Well, maybe not that, but you get the picture.