How I Became A Wrestling Fan
A few weeks ago I discussed about starting a wrestling column once a week. I figured, ah, what the hell, let’s do a pilot episode of my new shit, and see what my overtly-menacing fans think. My wrestling column will be all over the place. One column will be a flash-back episode, like today’s, where I talk about past experiences with wrestling, or one will be a Top 10 list, perhaps a PPV review, all sorts of things, but always wrestling related. In events like this, I’ll also throw in random match reviews of matches around the time or theme I’m talking about.
So, let me know what you think guys, and if you’d like to read more like this. I really appreciate hearing from you guys, thanks in advance.
Before we get into it, just wanted to let you know there’s a new episode of the Man Movie Encyclopedia Podcast up, which you can get here. This episode is dedicated to one of the greatest films of all time, baby, Robocop.
IN THE BEGINNING…
There I was, on Monday, May 15th, 1995, flipping through the channels when all of a sudden I saw this dude with stringy hair, beating the hell out of this announcer who was dressed like royalty. The dude with the stringy hair was swearing up a storm, and throwing punches in bunches.
It was the most amazing thing my 11 year old eyes had ever seen. I was hooked.
It turns out it was Bret Hart, attacking Jerry “The King” Lawler, as the previous night he’d cheated in order to defeat the Hitman, on the inaugural In Your House PPV. From then on out, wrestling was my thing. Slowly but surely, it started to become my obsession. My GI Joe action figures that were but a few weeks ago executing martial arts moves, were now witness to Duke powerbombing Cobra Commander, or Destro delivering a spinning piledriver to Jynx. My once grand obsession of Mortal Kombat was taking a backseat to RAW & Royal Rumble on the SNES. I remember one Sunday in particular I purposely faked being sick so I didn’t have to go to church and I could stay home and watch Superstars, delivering flying elbows off my couch.
Bret Hart vs Hakushi – In Your House, May 14th, 1995
I always dug, Hak. He had a great look and was one of the first guys I saw that brought a more arial based offense. Bret has his number at first, and doesn’t get things going his way until he lands a sweet chop to Bret’s throat, and proceeds to hit him with things like Vader Bombs & Bronco Busters before they were ever really seen. Bret soon turns it around, with a highlight being him nailing Hakushi with a flying clothesline that connects so hard he does a 180. Later, Hak hits a springboard moonsault to the outside onto Bret, which is awesome enough to get the crowd chanting his name, which was something you didn’t do for heels outside of ECW. Not long after Bret hits a victory roll and wins it. A great match that makes you wish we’d seen a lot more of Hakushi. He had a lot to offer and was damn innovative for that time period. Great stuff.
Bret pins Hakushi with a victory roll at 14:39 | ***3/4
I loved wrestling now. I loved the WWF. I absolutely thought it was real too. And as a kid, you don’t give a shit about match quality, you just want to see your favorite wrestlers. My favorites were none other than Razor Ramon, and Big Daddy Cool Diesel. I collected pictures of Razor for my wall, and would have my mom photocopy them so I could also have them on my binder for school. One day, I acquired the greatest piece of merchandise I’d ever owned, a piece that would grant me respect from everyone I met, and make the ladies demand the attention of the Caliber man: the fake-gold, fake-razor, Razor Ramon razor. It was AWESOME. I wore that bad boy to school with PRIDE. I loved it. Now, you gotta understand, back then, there was ZERO wrestling merch. You could really only find a wrestling shirt or whatever at an event. I got my gold chain from a friend who was once a wrestling fan, but no longer. Also, this was 1995, wrestling was DEAD. There were no action figures. My local Toys R Us had one thing, and that was a Rockers two-pack. Hooray.
Kids these days, if it’s not Monday, or Tuesday, or Thursday, or Saturday, or the other 3 days wrestling is on, then they can just pop on the WWE Network. But back in 1995, wrestling was on Monday, with Mania on Saturday, and Superstars on Sunday. Each one was an HOUR long. That’s it! So, if you got lucky, you headed to your local video store. Unfortunately for me, my local store had bupkis. Until..oooh, until a little store called Crazy Mike’s Video opened up. It was a local chain that was known for a massive selection. I tell you, when I walked in and saw they had an ENTIRE section dedicated to wrestling, I’m pretty sure that was my first sexual experience. I mean…where do I begin?! It was awesome. It was through these tapes that I became a massive Warrior fan. My next door neighbor had once been a wrestling fan and had the Warrior costume kit and Wrestle Buddy, both of which he gave me. I would literally just sit at breakfast with my Warrior mask and tassels on. So, imagine my surprise and sheer joy when I was watching RAW, and they ran a promo that began with “just when you thought it was safe to get back in the ring” and BAM! The Ultimate Warrior returns! Holy shit! I ran around the house, shaking the furniture, making my mom hold my Warrior Buddy up so I could shoulder tackle him. I tell you, there are few who experience joy like a young wrestling fan when something awesome happens.
Beyond the WWF, there was nothing. At least for me. For others there was a company called World Championship Wrestling. As far as I was concerned, BLECK. Are you fucking kidding me? Who watches that crap? It had a bunch of old guys, and dorky ass characters like the Shark, The Zodiac, and monster-truck wrestling. It was the worst, and I LOATHED them. Of course, because of either the damned US Open, or Westminster Dog Show, RAW would be preempted, effectively ruining my life. One night while this was going on, I discovered Nitro. I was only going to watch for a second, because this was pathetic WCW, an—OH SHIT! It’s LUGER! I couldn’t believe it! Oh…wait, of course! Davey Boy had just turned on Lex Luger, so that’s why he went to WCW! [because I didn’t know shit about contracts, thought wrestling was 100% real, and thought people just jumped around and did what they wanted]. I ended up watching that entire hour, because that Luger thing just blew me away.
Jushin Liger vs Brian Pillman – The Very 1st Monday Nitro
In reference to Jushin, Mongo says “I hope he didn’t bring his Ginzu knives! That’d be illegal!” and Bischoff responds seriously “That sure would be illegal!”. Yes, Eric, it would. They are not allowed to cut or stab each other here in the WCW. They’re kind of off to a rough start. Jushin attempts a moonsault, and lands a little low, as he eats Brian’s knee. Later, Pillman attempts a rana, wanting to send Liger to the left, but his body twists to the right, which had to hurt like hell in his neck. He soon attempts a surfboard on Pillman, and man, I always hated that submission. It’s beyond ridiculous because if you wanted to attempt that on some one in real life they’d have to be out cold for at least 3 hours so you could set it up properly. Soon after the match really ramps up, as Liger does his best to put Pillman down with everything from powerbombs to top-rope ranas. However, Brian refuses and answers back with mid-air drop kicks, and hurricane DDTs. It’s a damn fine opener, and a fantastic choice for WCW to immediately show a different product than what WWE was doing. I would have really liked to see this go longer. Good stuff.
Pillman gets the win after a roll-up on Liger at 7:02 | ***
Over in WWF, things were going great for me. Razor was the IC Champ, and Diesel was the WWF Champ. Life was great, and things were about to get even better. Why? Three simple letters; P P V. When I started watching in May of 1995, my parents were not about to shovel out that kinda dough. So, I watched PPVs via ScrambleVision. There was one episode of Raw in July where they were building up to the Diesel vs Sid – Lumberjack Match at In Your House, and at the last few minutes, Diesel and his guys were in the ring, as Sid approached with his men, then just as they were about to hit the ring, RAW went off the air! I was so upset, and wanted to see that so badly, I literally cried. Heartbreaking. One August day I was outside playing with my friends, when all of a sudden I realized that I was missing SummerSlam! So, I ran home and thank God, was able to catch the Ladder Match, Bret vs Yankem, and Diesel vs King Mabel. I was such a wrestling fan that I literally watched Bret vs Issac Yankem, and Diesel vs King Mabel via ScrambleVision. I also watched the September In Your House that way, which featured Bret vs Jean Pierre.
But then it happened. My parents finally agreed I could order a PPV. ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?!?!? I was so happy I cried. I couldn’t believe it. Because I was going to see all the big matches, LIVE! I’d know the results of EVERY match. It was so exciting. That night I had my friend over, we got pizza, chips, pop, I set up my favorite blanket in the living room, I was so set. We called the cable company, and suddenly our black box was blinking! It was blinking! IT WAS TIME! I couldn’t believe it! It was one of the most thrilling moments for me as a young wrestling fan. I also distinctly remember Diesel sitting up after being pinned and saying “MOTHERFUCKER”. You could read his lips clear as day. From that day on, I got every WWE PPV until after WM17.
As much as a high, and uplifting moment getting the PPV was, I was soon to experience one of my most depressing moments as a wrestling fan. My friend called The Ross Report Hotline one morning, and promptly called me afterward to deliver the terrible, terrible news. Diesel, and Razor, were headed to WCW. I absolutely couldn’t believe it. How could this be true?! WHY?! WHY would they do this to me?! WCW sucked! That was kids bullshit! What, they’re gonna go and fight Hogan?! SNORE! No joke, that night I ripped my photos of Razor off my wall with tears in my eyes. I was fucking DEVASTATED. I wanted nothing more than to see WCW destroyed. To just go away. I hated that company, and I loved my boys Razor & Diesel.
May 27th, 1996:
There I was, watching Monday Nitro, some lame-assed match, Steve Doll vs The Mauler…
TO BE CONTINUED.
Any questions, comments, drunk-ramblings, feel free to send them my way, I always dig hearing from you, the beautiful people.
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