Owen & Bret Hart. My Two Favorite Wrestlers
I can't when it happened, but I know how. Like many others I was stricken by an unexplained epidemic known as Hulkamania. It made me drink my milk, take my vitamins, and believe a balding man could surpass the most villainous of individuals. Pro-wrestling in the 1980s was like a comic book. Fancy spandex costumes, beautiful women, towering giants, ruthless villains, and patriotic heroes fighting for good. there were immovable objects, men who soared in the air, and musclebound individuals of unmeasured strength. It had comedy, drama, and tragedy. Wrestling was larger than life and that appealed to me as a kid.
Now I was an on again, off again fan. Tuning in, dropping out with the trends of World Wrestling Federation(now World Wrestling Entertainment). As with most wrestling fans in the USA WWE was the one option. There was World Championship Wrestling but it wouldn't be until the mid-90s when it would gain the same footing on television as WWE. Now, I watched in different periods of time and once I was hooked beyond just the story lines and characters, but with the talent and skill I was hooked in tight. This was in 1997 as I discovered wrestling was larger then the WWE.
In high school I had my eyes opened to the kind of talent outside WWEs walls. From the intensity, diversity, and craft that wrestlers applied to their work in WCW over to the underground. In the underground you had Paul E. Heyman take a small outfit called Extreme Championship Wrestling and radically inspire the larger promotions with more violence, serious story lines, and more adult themes. Also I was introduced to Japanese Wrestling, puroresu, which featured less story lines and gimmicks and more emphasis on the wrestling. Watching the likes of Kawada, Misawa, or Kobashi perform showcases wrestling as a sport. Not to be outdone the Japanese junior heavyweights like Jushin Thunder Liger and others could put on top quality pro-wrestling. They treated wrestling like a sport and the fans and critics acknowledge it as a sport in Japan.
Wrestling is both sport and theater. Yes, matches have pre-determined endings and portions are scripted, but these are athletes perfomring a physical exhibition. They had to train, hone their bodies, learn the skills to do what they do. A great wrestler is the kind who constantly improves and tries harder to top thier last performances and make themselves more noticed. This is where theater comes in, as ring persona, charisma, and even a gimmick make it theater. Watching a match is like reading a story, there is a beginning, middle, and an end. Building action, to a climax and a resolution. When the wrestlers click, and perform to their capabilities Smarks call it psychology, I call it good wrestling. However, wrestling mainly boils down to a number of athletes attempting to showcase a physical competition to entertain a live audience and hoping to keep them entertained and hopefully, excited throughout.
I like the promos, some story lines can really entrance me, and there are good gimmicks but I love the athleticism and action of pro-wrestling. Seeing these men and women go out and perform in the wrestling ring is why I tune in. I want to be gripped, thrilled, amazed, and have a reaction of joy, heartbreak, or anger. That's what makes a good wrestling match. Plus, the business side of wrestling and the dedication involved makes me admire anyone who would seek this as a profession. I guess in the end it might be a little hard for me to explain exactly why I love wrestling so I'll just quote Jesse Ventura here: Wrestling is a ballet with violence." Wrestling is my ballet.