Like most adolescent boys, I spent my childhood worshipping the ground that professional wrestling walked on. I religiously watched “WCW Nitro” and then “WWF Raw is War” on Monday nights for a couple of years. I bought a shirt at a wrestling Pay Per View event that said: “Do you wanna raise some hell? Hell Yeah!” I could not get enough of the violence, trashiness and chaotic material that was known as the “Attitude Era” in wrestling. I thought that I would never tire of “wrasselin,” but I eventually grew up and lost interest.
Then, after seven years, I stumbled onto “WWE Friday Night Smackdown” and watched it to see what the wrestling world had turned into after all those years I had stopped watching. I became hooked again. Although things were a lot softer and had lost that edginess, the magic of that fake thing called “Sports Entertainment” came flooding back to me. I have been watching the “TNA” and “WWE” products for the past four years now and have seen the wrestling world grow exponentially.
“WWE Raw” is constantly ranked the number one television program on cable television (check the Nielsen ratings for yourself) and is the longest episodic show in TV history. Wrestling no longer attracts only male teens and young adults, but younger and older males as well as women. Wrestling merchandises just like Disney does. There are clothes, video games, action figures, DVDs and even CDs of entrance themes. WWE has a film production unit and its stars appear as guest characters on some of the most popular television shows (although the Rock should stick to wrestling). I believe in this consolidated business so much that I actually bought WWE stock. Once you are hooked, they cram this commercial crap down your throat and it shows in the multi-million dollar industry that is professional wrestling.
It’s so obvious why a large part of the world population enjoys wrestling. Professional wrestling is a testosterone-pumped soap opera featuring choreographed beat downs where the audience finds themselves rooting for someone to get their head bashed in. Wrestling takes all our basic primal urges and packages them into a well-produced soap opera. There are hot girls called “Divas” and “Knockouts” who wear almost nothing and kick each other’s asses. Wrestlers go on the mike and degrade the crowd or call out other wrestlers and come up with some hilarious jokes (please return to wrestling, Rock!).
Wrestling is starting to attract a fan base that it never had in mind 10 years ago by bringing in celebrities and actual sports stars. “WWE Raw” has had huge success by having guest hosts for the past few months. Those guests included Ozzy Osborne, Shaquille O’Neal, Bob Barker, Johnny Damon, Jon Heder, Rev. Al Sharpton, Snoop Dogg and even William Shatner! While going in this new, “everyone” direction, pro-wrestling has gotten less graphic in order to reach that PG level. It’s a new era and a lot of the old fans aren’t happy with the changes, but they will keep watching.
I am here to testify to the greatnesses of wrestling. It captivates the mind, body and soul. It is a fad that is always in. Even when things get bad (deaths of wrestlers and steroid accusations), wrestling still gets media attention from CNN and Fox News and stays in the headlines. Any press is good press. WWE’s Super Bowl is called “Wrestlemania” and at “Wrestlemania XXV” 72,744 people packed Reliant Stadium in Texas to watch it. That crowd was bigger than the Super Bowl XXXVIII crowd at Reliant Stadium in 2004.
Wrestling will be around forever and so will the people who love it. To all you people who bash wrestling because it is fake, I am here to say that we the wrestling fans know this. I dare all those non-believers to watch a week of wrestling programming and see if you change your opinions.
I want to end this column by briefly talking about some of my greatest experiences in wrestling. I went to WWE’s “No Way Out” Pay Per View in Las Vegas on Feb. 17, 2008. I watched some great matches and saw Floyd Mayweather Jr. knock out at the Big Show. The greatest thing I saw, however, was a bloody Shawn Michaels spit blood and saliva onto a guy in the first row. This was a memorable moment for me because instead of the guy being pissed off, he put his arms in the hair and screamed: “Oh Yeeeaaahhhh!” 13,000 people also chanted to me: “Put your shirt on!” but that’s a different story.
I’ll leave you with another great wrestling moment for me, which occurred right here in Irvine last October. I went to TNA’s “Bound for Glory” Pay Per View in the Bren Events Center. Wrestling in Irvine, enough said.