My childhood died recently. It had a good run, filled with many great memories, many of which will last with me for my lifetime. I am not sure where it went or what it will become, but I am no longer a child. Sure, age confirmed years ago that my childhood had passed me by, but up until recently I always had wrestling. Wrestling never left me.
Like a faithful friend, wrestling would call on me each week and each week I would gladly answer. The superstars of the past fighting the traditional battle of good versus evil, allowing me to get caught up in their struggle, only to leave me wanting more by the time the show came to an end.
For some reason, I decided to watch a full episode of Impact the other night. I almost made it, but fell about 90 minutes short of my goal. I did get a chance to watch the main event of the night, a battle between two icons of the sport, Sting (the Insane Icon) versus the 16-time world champion, Ric Flair.
Leading up to the match, you could sense that it contained two of the best wrestling personalities to ever step foot in the squared circle. For more than 20 years, these two have clashed in some of the biggest venues around the world on the biggest stages the sport has to offer. Then, the match started and that is where my childhood slowly died.
For the next 15 minutes, I watched as Flair strutted around the ring with his usual "flair." However, it was quickly evident that I was not watching the Ric Flair from my childhood, but only a small resemblance of the wrestler that used to captivate the crowds. Gone was the pageantry that accompanied Flair to the ring.
Granted, the production department of TNA Impact does not operate on the same budget that WWE and WCW did when Flair would enter for them. It was almost as if the look on Flair's face made you think as if he would rather be somewhere else than the Universal Studios location. His face did not bring the usual excitement and enthusiasm from himself or the crowd.
During the match, it was apparent that both of these superstars have wrestled well beyond their prime. As Flair moved around the ring, I watched him move carefully in and out of moves. He deserves an enormous amount of credit for still taking the bumps at his age, but I got the idea that I was at a local armory in my hometown watching one the big names from the past attempt to fill up the local armory, only to see that the attendance had increased by 10 people.
Flair brought nothing to the match, and I do not think it was in the best interest to have him continue to wrestle. His "Nature Boy" persona was not matched that night, even by his own standards. It was difficult watching the match, and even more difficult to think about my childhood dying. Eventually, we all get to the point where we give up what we used to hold on to, but I do not know if had gotten to the point with wrestling.
Based on the crowd reaction, it became apparent that the crowd, who continues to have noise piped in to the broadcasts, were no more interested in the actual match than they were in just seeing two legends in the ring. The problem is that seeing the legends no longer moves the needle on the broadcast. Sure, it is nice to see the legends make appearances here and there, but for them to continue to wrestle on a weekly basis just doesn't do it for me anymore.
Watching the old Flair clips on YouTube is a far cry from what I saw Thursday night. It made me sad. I had to say goodbye to my childhood. So, to Ric Flair: thank you for the wonderful memories. To my childhood: it was a wonderful ride, and one that I hope my children get to experience. Thank you.