Over the short period of time that I’ve evolved into this member of the Internet Wrestling Community, I have seen countless stories of how these fellow people have became fans of professional wrestling.
I feel like sharing my story right now.
It was a long time ago. I was a young kid who was too hyperactive and couldn’t sleep one night at my grandparents' Florida apartment. I was on an air mattress in their living room and to keep me at ease, my mom told my to turn on the TV.
As I flicked through channels, nothing really grabbed my attention, even at the young age.
Then I came across something I couldn’t look away from the bald man in black trunks and a man with short black hair in similar attire. The bald guy was bleeding and just grabbed a TV from a nearby table. He smacked it across the other guy's head like nothing. Both, now, were bleeding.
Little did I know that I was watching The Rock and Stone Cold feud unroll.
I fell asleep soon after and the following morning, had no memory of what I watched.
A few years passed, and I still was not the fan I am today.
My two brothers and I were hanging out with our neighbor one night and he was a fan. We were in his house and he noticed the time and flicked to a show just in time for his favorite.
I remember seeing a small, masked, Mexican wrestler and remember my neighbor reciting the lyrics to his theme song.
The weeks following that night, I slowly tuned in more often. I liked what I saw and it sparked a memory of that night in Florida.
I watched Evolution happen. Triple H, Ric Flair, Batista and Randy Orton. I was still just a young fan, but I actually liked Orton and Batista despite being heels.
I remember staying up late every Sunday, school night or not, to watch the WWF/E pay-per-views.
On school nights, my dad would say that we could only watch about half of the show, which I’d agree since I really had no say or didn’t care to respond since the show was starting. My dad wouldn’t watch but sometimes fall asleep, which was to my benefit. I’d sneak around and try to be as quiet as possible just to watch the full show.
The wrestling sensation really hit me by the time I was in fifth grade.
My favorite show was Smackdown and my favorite wrestlers were Batista and The Undertaker. I had all the wrestling video games, magazines and action figures.
It was around 2005 and my school held a silent auction and sort of a cheap carnival one night. Upon entering the school’s front doors, I noticed the auction tables. Sign your name and name your price.
A table had a bag of WWE products: posters, magazines and other stuff.
First thing I did was tell my mom to sign the paper and beat the last name on the list price wise. She said that it’ll be smarter if we waited because other people may come along and outbid us. She wanted to sign it right before the whole carnival ended. Now that I think about it, she made a smart choice, but I was mad at the time. I wanted her to sign off right away!
Long story short, I got what I wanted. I won the bid.
2005 was also the first time I attended a live WWE event. My mom had gotten me tickets on Christmas for a Smackdown show the following night. I still remember some of the show: World Champion Batista and Chris Benoit vs. JBL and Orlando Jordan. Benoit tagged out to Batista who came in on fire and won the match. It was also very close to the day that Eddie Guerrero died and they played his theme song to close the show.
As I got older, I felt less attached to the WWE and wrestling. My older brother had outgrown it and my younger brother wasn’t into it to begin with. I felt like I was ready to move on.
My neighbors all watched but they all slowed down. They found out it was scripted and most of them stopped watching for that simple fact.
After visiting a video store in a mall one day, my brother found a strange wrestling DVD. It said, “TNA” on it and had an unknown face on the cover.
I’ve never seen it before and he convinced me into buying it.
I popped it into the DVD player at home and watched. The announcers talked about an upcoming (and weekly) show on TV. I would watch the show and not know a single person I saw.
AJ Styles? Samoa Joe? Abyss?
Then some familiar faces started to show up. Jeff Hardy, Sabu and eventually Kurt Angle.
I started watching more often, again. I wanted to watch both WWE and TNA.
One of my local neighborhood kids and I were excited for an upcoming WWE ECW event. They had just reinvented the show and my friend had seats two rows from the front.
I still laugh at the thought of his mom screaming and covering her purse as The Sandman stood right in front of us and spit his beer. I still have the RVD shirt that I bought that night in 2006 and it still fits. It must’ve been like 10 sizes too big back then.
I remember my friend and I scanning the crowd for my parents and brothers, who had bought tickets after hearing that I was going with my friend. We saw them a balcony above us. We also saw some of the local neighborhood kids we’d known and been wrestling fans with. Things had come full circle.
It is the most memorable event I’ve ever attended.
It was five years ago, but I definitely remember.
A guy in front of us tried crawling on the chairs as everyone was standing to watch a match and sure enough, he fell. He knocked out a couple chairs and nearby people asked him what he was doing. Funny.
I remember Renee Dupree’s music and the confused look on everyone’s face because he was unexpected and somewhat weird. He had a weird French theme song that made my friend make a twisted facial expression and say, “What the f----?”
I remember the Extreme Rules main event ECW title match between Sabu and champion, Big Show. Show reversed a springboard off the ropes into a chokeslam through a table to win.
Everyone booed and threw their crap in the ring at Big Show and Paul Heyman.
We all continued to watch before the PG Era struck. I remember how all the neighborhood kids and me would wrestle on my trampoline. There was about eight of us and nothing was “fake.”
I remember watching one kid get powerbombed and seeing an eruption of blood from his nose. His reaction, get his replica belt so we can start a championship tournament. We didn’t give a s---- about anything but wrestling on that trampoline; which is probably why it broke so soon.
After WWE took over ECW and went full-blown PG, I watched less of their product and more of TNA’s. I was in about middle school, going into high school at the time and wasn’t PG anymore.
Kurt Angle officially arrived and fought Samoa Joe. The show was given an extra hour of programming and more stuff was added. I had no idea about the IWC.
My brother seemed to know some spoilers and would spoil events as they happened sometimes. I had no idea where he got this info from so I looked into it.
I went to Google and searched “wrestling spoilers and news.” Tons of things overloaded my screen.
I clicked on three things and thought it was good enough: Bleacher Report, WrestlingInc, Wrestling-news.
I used Bleacher Report the most and I credit it the most for my evolution as a fan. I joined in the summer of 2010 and would read about what people said. I still didn’t know what a face or heel was, but I soon learned.
I very quickly evolved into an “IWC mark” and felt like my voice should be heard beyond the comment sections. I applied to be a writer with my very first piece of work about Ink Inc. Anxious and worried about the reply, I waited about a week for a thumbs up by the B/R Community.
I became a writer on January 31 of this year. I don’t even have a year of experience under my belt but I think I know a lot about wrestling and writing about it.
I’m a senior analyst on the fourth largest sports site in the US with over 20 million weekly readers. I have over 160 articles and more than 300,000 reads. I’ve met tons of people, who I’d either befriend or get into heated debates with. I’ve learned the skill of writing beyond anything I’d learn in school.
All of this, the more than 300,000 reads, more than 50 fans, more than 160 articles, countless friends, enemies and awards all happened in the push of the button. A push of the “Power” button and a few clicks through channels.
Wrestling, WWE, TNA, Bleacher Report and the IWC has not only helped improve my writing skills but also changed the way I think and see things.
Without any of it, I’m sure as hell that I wouldn’t be the same person I am today.
Wrestling maybe scripted and fake but the effect it’s had on my life is not. It’s entirely real. The emotion is real.
“It’s real. It’s damn real.”
Without any of this, I may just be some idiot. This, writing and wrestling, is something I like, something I’m proud of, and something I’d like to do in the future.
These “characters” portrayed on my TV screen have definitely effected me. I think CM Punk’s Straight Edge character changed me the most. Upon entering high school, the world shown it’s true s--- brown and piss yellow colors. I learned how easy it is for kids to go out and get drunk or high on drugs.
It’s CM Punk’s Straight Edge Society that taught me that I can say no regardless of what anyone thinks. You can call me a loser for not using alcohol or drugs but you can’t call me stupid for denying it. I’m proud to say no and think it makes me more unique. The cooler people are the ones that say no and don’t give into the peer pressure of others, in my opinion.
Wrestling maybe scripted and fake but the effect it’s had on my life is entirely real. All of this happened in the click of a button. I fell in love with wrestling by accident but plan on keeping the relationship alive until “death due us part.”
I’m Charlie Groenewegen and that’s my wrestling story.
Thanks for reading.
Originally from the Enigmatic Generation of Wrestling.