WWE RAW opens each week with a montage of clips. Split second shots of various events flash before us to the tune of music in the background. While some of the shots seem random, many are recognizable. A split second image causes us to recall the event in our minds that the image represents. It is only these small moments that pull us in. I would argue that it is moments, throughout wrestling history, that have cemented our status as wrestling fans and continue to justify why we watch week after week.
It’s hard not to think about this, considering WWE’s promotion of Wrestlemania. The past few years around this time we receive a barrage of “Big Time” moments or “Wrestlemania” moments. But in the WWE’s eyes, this is just smart marketing. They know that these small moments that captured us in the past, when confronted with them again, will cause us to have some sort of emotional response. Our emotions are flooded with where we were and how we felt when the moment took place. It causes an intimate attachment to the product.
Personally, I find that when I watch these moments I tend to almost romanticize the events that are being displayed on screen. My mind has long forgot any dissatisfaction I may have had at the time when the moment first occurred and I only remember the positive, almost “mark out” effect that the moment had on me in the past. It is nostalgia at it’s finest.
Wrestlemania is famous for these moments. We tune in each year with the expectation that another long lasting moment will be created. In recent years, Wrestlemania X8 gave us the famous Hogan/Rock stare down. Wrestlemania XIX saw Lesnar’s huge Shooting Star Press in his classic against Kurt Angle. Wrestlemania XX was the late great Eddie Guerrero embracing Chris Benoit after his World Heavyweight Championship victory. We look back to these moments and they overshadow everything else that happened. While these particular moments may not be the ones that captured your imagination, the fact is that it is the moment that we remember. And more importantly, for the WWE’s sake at least, it gives us a reason to tune in this year. We want to know what moment will capture us this time around.
But let’s step outside the bounds of Wrestlemania. What is it, when thinking about wrestling’s past, that is remembered? It is the moments that drew us in and solidified our passion for wrestling that we remember. I turn to one of my first memories, when Hulk Hogan turned on the entire WCW and formed the n.W.o at Bash at the Bach. This moment, and the emotional response it illicits when I look back to it, is one of the reasons I became a faithful follower of the WCW. I couldn’t tell you what else happened on that night, but it is that moment that stuck with me.
While some wrestling fans may do the very thing I have been describing more than others, I think to a certain extent we all do it. A prime example is the “Attitude Era”. The IWC holds this era on such a high pedestal, but why? I’ll be the first to admit that this era was just as full of ridiculous storylines and matches as the next, but it is the moments that we remember. This era produced a large number of these moments that we tend to attach to when thinking of this time in wrestling history. We forget the rest, and only remember the large number of moments that were produced. That is why, in my mind, the Attitude Era is generally considered a high point of the WWE and professional wrestling as a whole.
I’m certainly not arguing that this is the only reason that we are wrestling fans. Maybe what’s being argued here does not apply to you in the slightest. We all have our own unique reasons for being attached to this sport. Yet I know that when I look back to the past it isn’t the negative that I dwell on, but the moments that I celebrate. Today, especially in the IWC, attention is given to all the “bad” things that are going on in professional wrestling. Yet as time moves on I believe the negative will pass away and the moments that have been created in recent times will come to the forefront of our memories.