wrestling / Columns

The Other Side of the Guardrail: How I Became A Wrestling Fan

November 28, 2019 | Posted by Caliber Winfield
Diesel Kevin Nash WWE In Your House 1

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Greeings, beautiful people.

What you’re seeing here is the written-word version of a pilot. One of my favorite aspects of being a wrestling fan is hearing stories from other fans, about their experiences being die-hards in this insane world we love so much. So, I thought I’d start an article series where we all get a chance to share our stories.

This week, it’s all about how we broke into the business. Feel free to respond in the comments and tell your stories about how you guys became fans. I’d love to hear’em.

If you dig this article, let me know, and I’ll put it into motion, and we’ll start making this a regular thing.

There I was, 11 years old, on May 15th, 1995. I was in my room, alone, watching TV, and was getting bored with what I was watching, and began to channel surf. It was then that I saw this guy with long, stringy, wet hair, beating the shit out of an announcer, and cussing up a storm [which was censored]. I had no idea what was going on, but it was cool as all hell. Turns out it was Bret Hart beating the hell out of Jerry Lawler, due to him costing him a match the previous night at the first-ever In Your House. From that point, every Monday I was there at 9pm. Yes, I broke into the business in the middle of 1995. I fell in love with the sport at that point, as my Mortal Kombat action figures were no-longer kicking and punching anymore as much as they were doing piledrivers, powerbombs, and suplexes. I watched Mania on Saturdays and Superstars on Sunday. I absolutely loved it. I loved it so much I watched PPV scrambled. Let that sink in. I watched WWE PPVs from 1995, SCRAMBLED. That’s how awesome I thought this shit was.

When I broke in, the big feud at the time was Big Daddy Cool Diesel vs Pyscho Sid. Now, Diesel was my boy, 2nd only to Razor Ramon. In June, Diesel & Sid headlined a PPV with a lumberjack match, and the go-home Raw ended with Sid and his lumberjacks coming towards the ring with Diesel and his. It cut off right before Sid got in the ring, and honest to God, I was so upset and wanted to see this match so bad I started to cry. Yes, that’s how much I loved wrestling. I cried because I couldn’t see Sid vs Diesel. Now that’s loyalty, dammit! On a Sunday in August I remember leaving my best-friends house because I had to go home and watch SummerSlam. Scrambled, of course. I was super pissed because I missed the first 2 matches, had no clue who won, and was livid the next night on Raw when they didn’t tell me the results of Hakushi vs 123 Kid, and HHH vs Bob Holly. I can’t believe how fucking excited I was to listen to Diesel vs Mabel. I was clearly insane as a child.

Now, at this time, I was die-hard, and a die-hard WWE loyalest. I absolutely hated WCW. I thought that’s where the old guys went, and that their shit was super corny and lame. They didn’t have awesome wrestling dentists, they didn’t have TL Hopper and The Goon! I remember being livid when Nitro debuted, because Raw wasn’t on, and I wanted wrestling so bad that I just had to watch it, and I hated it. Until…Lex Luger came on the screen. I lost my fucking mind. It was then, I become hooked on my favorite aspect of the Monday Night Wars; people jumping ship. Now, see, back then, for probably my first year as a fan, even though I was 12 [I turned 12 years old 4 months after becoming a fan], I still thought it was real. I forced myself to believe that. Anyway, so the week before the Bulldog had turned on Luger, splitting up the Allied Powers, and I legit thought that’s why he went to WCW, because of what Bulldog had done. Even though I wasn’t a huge Lex fan, I was disgusted and hated him. How could he switch sides? Traitor. Around this same time, perhaps a few months later, but not much, Vader came to WWE. I had no idea who he was, and on his first night he attacked Gorilla Monsoon, a guy I only knew as the President. It absolutely terrified me. I thought Vader was an absolute killer.

So, it’s still 1995, and I’m as big a wrestling fan as a kid can get. I bought the WWE Spotlight Magazine on Diesel, and put pictures all over my binder for school, and had pictures and posters all over my walls. They use to have the sweetest pictures in the manual for Royal Rumble for the SNES, and my mom would go to the copy store for me and get them copied and blown up. I knew a guy at school who was a wrestling fan, and he gave me my most cherished item at the time: the Razor Ramon gold razor necklace. I felt like the coolest man that has ever lived. I seriously wore that thing non-stop. And, see, man, for those who didn’t grow up fans at the time, you gotta understand something, merchandise didn’t exist. You could only get it when they came to town, or if your parents would order something, and they never did. On top of that, you NEVER, EVER met another wrestling fan. No one was watching it back then. So to find someone who did, man, it was like being the last person on Earth and finding someone else.

When October rolled around, I got an early Christmas gift when Razor won the Intercontinental Title. To new fans, the IC belt isn’t really shit, but back then? Man, it was awesome. It was my favorite title, and the one I deemed most important. So, to have my favorite wrestler rocking it, hell yeah. Now I could REALLY wear my gold-razor with pride, chico.

Once we hit November, I finally reached the greatest achievement of my young life. Even bigger than when I finally got my mom to agree to buy me Bone Thugs N Harmony’s album E.1999 Eternal. My parents were finally going to allow me to order a PPV. Do you have ANY idea how excited I was for that? I literally couldn’t sleep the night before. I was going to be able to watch an ENTIRE PPV, live, as it happened! I wouldn’t have to listen to it, or see still-frames the next night on Raw! No longer would I be in the dark about results, I’d know everything! Man….I remember I got a big blanket and spread it out in the living room, we got pizza, they set up the VCR so I could record it, and I remember, again, breaking into tears, only this time of joy, when the PPV started. Young fans will never know this feeling. PPV back then…man, that was rare air. That was like having a satellite dish, or a NEO GEO or something, it just didn’t happen. It was a huge freaking deal. I had the absolute time of my life, even though I was heart-broken when Diesel lost the title. Here I was, living the dream, because Razor had the IC strap, and Diesel had the WWE Title. I still remember to this day, clear as an absolute bell, when Diesel sat up after being pinned he yelled “GODDAMN MOTHERFUCKER” and you could read his lips perfectly, to which my mom said “Well, he’s upset”. I had school the next day, but my mom allowed me to stay up and re-watch the PPV tape. I mean, I couldn’t get enough of it. It was like when I finally got a Super Nintendo for Christmas, and when we went to the video store, I could go to the Super Nintendo section and look at games. It was like leveling up in life.

I had an Aunt whose boyfriend claimed to like wrestling, but he liked WCW. That wasn’t wrestling! That was fake garbage where dudes got knocked out with high-heel shoes! Of course, I still watched it, because Nitro use to come on early back in the day, and well, I had to know the enemy. I may have watched it, but I let it be known that they were the enemy and speaking of them in a nice-manner would not be tolerated. However, I did owe them, because eventually RAW started at 8:57, in order to compete with Nitro being two hours. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but holy shit were those extra 3 minutes amazing.

After getting Survivor Series, my parents knew that there would be no going back for me, and they were awesome enough to get me every PPV until my fandom became less obsessive around late 2000 or so and I didn’t care about seeing them as much. I remember my first Royal Rumble, and just being over the moon that I was going to be able to see this sucker live. However, fucking Goldust and that son of a bitch 123 Kid RUINED MY NIGHT by costing Razor the IC Title. I was absolutely crestfallen. As a kid, you took that shit serious! You had your favorites, and they had to remain on top, dammit. But, it was OK, because sure, Diesel & Razor didn’t have the titles anymore, but they’d get them back in no time! They were going to be around forever! Forever! Forever! For…..no…no, oh please God, no, NO! PLEASE! GOD! NO!

Those were the words floating through my head, and flowing through my veins as my friend repeated to me what he’d heard on the Ross Report Hotline; “Razor Ramon and Diesel are going to WCW. They’re leaving the WWE”. It couldn’t be true! HE WAS LYING! They wouldn’t do this! They wouldn’t hurt me like this! WCW was for losers! They were the goddamn KINGS of the WWE! I immediately hung up and called the Ross Report. I was going to get in trouble, mos def, but I didn’t care, I had to confirm it. I still remember feeling sick when I heard Jim Ross confirm my worst fears. I was so mad I ripped a few pictures off my wall in anger. My guys couldn’t go to WCW, why would they lower themselves to such depths? I would never know joy as a wrestling fan again. Or so I thought….

May 27th, 1996…..

That’s where I’ll leave this, cliffhanger style. Again, if you guys like these type of articles, let me know, and I’ll continue with my adventures as a fan through the Monday Night Wars, as I had a front-row seat for the greatest time in wrestling history. I’ll also do an article on what merchandise was like back then, including all the video games I loved, and wrestling VHS’ that I could get my hands on.

Thanks for reading, buckshots, and for no reason, here’s my all-time favorite shot of any woman that’s ever been in pro-wrestling, the hottest woman in wrestling of all time, Trish Stratus circa 2000-2002.

O7dsFSL

Any questions, comments, drunk-ramblings, feel free to send them my way, I always dig hearing from you, the beautiful people.

Instagram: @CaliberWinfield

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