I have been writing for about a year and a half now, and I have done 35 columns. To be perfectly honest, that is pathetic. That is not a jab at my skill, my intellect, or anything, but the blunt truth. I know other columnists like Stinger, author of “A View From The Rafters,” who have been writing for about 6 months, and have written as much as I have, and in some cases, more. To shoot to the point, I write as often as the IWC agrees on something, and I am sick and tired of it. It needs to change; but then again, easier said than done, right? I have a lot of things working against me: writer’s block, family, school, and many other obligations. I often write half of a column, save it, and then don’t touch it for a week or two, by which time I have lost my train of thought or the topic is old. Even more, I have my brown notebook that I, with great affection, refer to as my “brown journalist.” In it are dozens of ideas for columns that are already brainstormed, yet they are either out of date or have a big brick wall in front of them that even Stephen King wouldn’t be able to overcome. Sad, isn’t it?
How do I save “Column O’ Nonsense” then? Sounds like a real dilemma for me, huh?
So, I sat down with the Brown Journalist and a pen one week, and I began to draw out ideas to save “Column O’ Nonsense.” Maybe I could do a weekly review of all the shows. Nah, not my style. Some people like Linda Robin can do it and make it work, but I just couldn’t do it. It’s not me. Well, what next? Oh! Maybe I could set a day or time for me to write each week. Hell, no. I tried that before and all it yielded was some of the worst columns this site has probably ever seen because I “forced” them. So what was left? Well, after a week of racking my brain for ideas, it hit me with the speed of a Shooting Star Press. Before revealing it, I have to give credit to someone who actually did it first (or the first that I saw). I have to give credit to Nubis, author of “The Ringside Sermon,” as it was an idea he has used many times for his column that might just help me save “Column O’ Nonsense.”
Without further ado, I am going to write a series. Yes, I am going to write a series of columns focused around one pivotal point that will both enthrall and captivate you long enough that you will keep coming back for more and more whilst on the edge of your seat. Yes sir-e-bob, this will either be my masterpiece, or the thing that I always hide from interviews and my resumes in the future, and with all the effort I have, I will try to make it the first one.
But the oh-so simple question now arises.
What do I do my column series on?
In comparison, Nubis has done some on WCW, Vince McMahon, and others. Now, I always pride myself in mixing in a little bit of fact with each column, but do I think I can write something with that much fact or even more, do I want to? Hell, no. So, it seemed like I was back to square one. Goody.
Well, at 6 a.m. on the 26th of December after spending the whole night reading, a thought popped in my head harder than bubble wrap. I had just received Edge’s autobiography for Christmas, which is a must read, and I hadn’t been able to put it down. At 6 a.m. the next morning, I was about three-fourths of the way through with the book when the thought finally came to me. After reading the story about the life of Edge, I had my column series idea. I had what will most likely be the cure to the consistency problem of “Column O’ Nonsense.”
So from this column on, I present to you:
Chronicles Of A Wrestling Fan
The year is 1998. A skinny and gangly kid is wandering his way through middle school one day. This awkward kid would eventually evolve into the person piecing together each and every word that you are reading. Funny picture, ain’t it? Well, I stumbled upon the cafeteria one Tuesday afternoon where I found my usual gang of friends, plopped my butt down, and counted the minutes until I would be home sitting on my butt doing nothing.
All of the sudden, one of my friends said to another, “Hey, did you watch Nitro last night?”
“Nitro? What in the world is that?” I thought to myself quietly. I had never heard of anything about nitrogen or any of its other forms at the lunch table before, so I was quite shocked to hear this. I didn’t flinch though for that would hint that I didn’t know what they were talking about; and that might (wait for it) make them think of me less. Big gasp! I was 12 at this point, so get over the fact that I was very superficial.
Anyway, at this point, my friends were talking about Hulk Hogan. Now there was a familiar name. I had recognized him from countless movie cameos, including one of the Gremlins movies in which he was hilarious. I made the connection to wrestling after this, so I knew they were watching wrestling. But what did I know about wrestling? Practically nothing. Did I know it was predetermined? No. Did I know most perceive it as fake? Hell, no. I was just a naive, little boy trying to edge his way into the conversation of his friends. Eventually, I worked up my courage and asked what exactly Nitro was, and they explained that it was a wrestling show that came on Monday Nights on TNT. And for the rest of lunch, my three friends sat there talking about WCW, while I sat there out of place, afraid to lose my slot in the social ladder that was middle school.
So next Monday night, guess where I was?
You guessed wrong because in my idiotic boyhood state, I forgot about it and went to bed early. Like I said, I was 12. Cut me some slack.
The next day, I came to school, and there are my friends talking about it again like it is the best thing since Sliced Bread (this will come into play around part four of this series). Well after being an idiot last week by not knowing what it was, I couldn’t do such a thing again. No, they might think of me as a…a…geek! Phew, I still shudder whenever I think of such a superficial time of my life.
So I panicked and when asked what I thought of the show, the first thing that popped out of my mouth was, “Yeah, Nitro really kicked those guys’ butts.” In my stupor, I had thought that Nitro was perhaps the name of a wrestler, so I actually thought that that was a pretty good stab at something I knew nothing about.
Then came the laughs.
Oh, were they loud, and boy, were they plentiful. Any 12 year old will tell you that when all of your friends are laughing at you for something stupid, it is not a good thing. I challenge even DDP to say, “That’s not a bad thing, it’s a good thing.” So after what seemed to be a never ending supply of laughter, my friends, wiping the tears from their eyes, began to inform me that there is no “Nitro” wrestler. Instead, the name of the show is just simply “Nitro” in which many wrestlers such as Rey Mysterio, Bill Goldberg, and Raven appear.
Boy. How wrong was I?
However, in my very responsive mind, I was quickly able to pull together a cover-up.
“Oh, what channel were you guys watching it on?”
Of course, no such program on ESPN Classic ever occurred, but it pacified my friends as they must have been thinking, “Man, ESPN Classic shows wrestling? What have I been missing,” and I was in the clear for at least a couple of minutes until they figured out that I was most likely lying to save my own skin. Soon, the bell came to save me, and I had time to quietly contemplate all that happened. I came up with one solution.
Watch the damn show on Monday night.
So next Monday night, guess where I was?
Well, you guessed right this time, because there I was, butt in the chair watching WCW Monday Night Nitro. God knows what social trauma would have been awaiting me Tuesday afternoon if I didn’t watch this time! So there I was, remote in hand, clicking it over to TNT, and what unfolded before my eyes that night? The outlandish and villainous New World Order inflicting ravage upon the ring and its inhabitants; the exciting athleticism of Rey Mysterio and the other Cruiserweights as they flew around the ring delivering move after move; and the demolition ball that was Goldberg. Of course, I was very confused with all I had seen. Most of the stuff I was watching was the continuation of last week which was the continuation of the week before and so-on, so how could I have understood everything right off the bat?
But I was intrigued, and that was the important thing. I was intrigued as to why a faction like the nWo would be wreaking havoc on innocent people. I was intrigued as to the question of “Would a power such as Goldberg ever lose the title?” I was just plain intrigued by the whole package.
Friends or no friends. Social consequences or not, I was hooked and I couldn’t wait until it was Monday night again. Week after week, I found myself down there again and again watching the trials of DDP and Raven. Week after week, I wondered what would happen next. Week after week, I fell more and more in love with the male soap opera, as some may say. But, and there is always a “but,” there was something I dreaded.
I had started watching in September, and Fall Brawl 1998 was coming up. And I hated it. Why? Simple. I had no money and certainly my folks weren’t going to cough up that much money. So I tuned in each and every week to see the buildup to something that I couldn’t even afford. After all that time invested in the program, I couldn’t even see the epic War Games match. I got to the point where my obsession was dwindling leading into the next PPV, Halloween Havoc 1998, as I knew I wouldn’t even be able to see it. To me, it was like watching the first part of a great movie, and then turning it off before the end. Could you imagine watching a movie like “The Village” and not even seeing the ending?
But alas, a month after my obsession began, one of my original friends hit the cafeteria with a glow of heaven. He informed us of news, which I bet turned my eyes green with dark envy. He was getting Halloween Havoc. He would get to see if DDP would actually prevail and win the title, thus stopping the force that was Goldberg. He would get to see the feud of the Steiner Brothers. But then, the good news irked out of his excited chatter.
We were all invited to come and watch.
As the little kiddies would say, yippy-skippy!
That Sunday, I parked my butt down in a foreign couch, not caring that it wasn’t carted to the specific shape of my butt or even comfortable. It didn’t matter; for here, I was going to witness a mighty event. I would witness here the spectacle of Raven tapping out to Chris Jericho’s unique submission hold. I would see here Disco Inferno’s elation after defeating Juventud Guerrera for a shot at the Cruiserweight Title, and then watch that elation disappear as Billy Kidman gave Disco Inferno a lesson in humility. I would then witness the athlete that was Rick Steiner overcome the Giant and Scott Steiner at once to win the Tag Titles, and then follow that up with a win over his own brother again. I would see a KO in wrestling for the first time as Bret Hart knocked out Sting to keep his precious title. And finally, I would see a match for the ages, in my young, naive mind.
I would see Goldberg versus DDP. A match which was billed by my friends and I as an explosion of passion, rage, and ambition. The match began, and I sat there. For 10 minutes and 28 seconds. Watching every movement, every glance, every taunt, and every groan. Waiting for the moment when either Goldberg chalked up another epic win, or DDP took not just Goldberg’s title, but his flawless record away from the man-beast as well.
Man that was the life. Being a mark back then provided some fun memories. The screaming at Jericho as he made yet another person tap out. The cheering as Rick Steiner overcame great adversity. Nowadays, the only match of Goldberg’s I can sit through is with Chris Jericho in 2003, and I even have to turn the DVD off before he does his normal winning routine. Funny how things change. But back then, it didn’t matter to me. At this time, he could have been the worst wrestler of all time (and for all I know, he is), yet the story, the build-up, and the character all made him irresistible to my young wrestling eyes; and that’s what makes those days unforgettable. I only wished they lasted as long for everyone as they did for me.
Shortly after this, I started to meet new people also interested in wrestling. A guy I knew was interested in The Rock, a popular heel from the WWF. Another was interested in Taz, a man-beast from a small promotion called ECW. Through them, I was able to discover more of what I loved.
ECW was a lost cause for me. I had no money, no income, and no leeway with my parents for PPVs or tapes, so how would I see the product? It seemed very interesting, with the brutality and outlandish stories, but what could I do? WWF, however, opened a new realm of viewing pleasure for me.
WCW, by this point, was getting stale to me. Same thing, week in and week out. The only thing that had significantly changed since I began watching was that Goldberg’s streak had been ended by Kevin Nash. Nothing more. Why spend all that time watching the same thing each and every Monday night? So one Monday Night, I clicked over to WWF Raw Is War on USA. And it left me just uttering one word by the end of the night.
The beer guzzling Austin, the gothic Undertaker, the monster Kane, the demented Mankind, the evil Corporation, the rebellious Degeneration-X. Basically, I saw everything WCW tried to do each week…and then some.
This is what I had been missing.
So for the next 4 months, I watched both. I watched WWF trample upon WCW each week in product, but I felt an urge to keep watching and keep watching WCW at the hopes of something exciting would happen.
It never did.
In late February of 1999, Rey Mysterio was forced to lose his mask. This was big news. The next night, Rey Mysterio defeated Kevin Nash. This was even bigger news. But I just didn’t care. If WCW couldn’t even get me excited to see David overcome Goliath in real life, why keep watching? So from then on out, I was a WWF boy.
I couldn’t get enough of it. Undertaker kidnapping Stephanie, Steve Austin hitting the ring with a beer hose on 3 snobby suits, the demise of Degeneration-X, and the humanization of Kane. It was all there waiting for me every Monday night, and it never failed to entertain me, unlike its competition. But apparently it wasn’t enough to keep me in for the long run.
In May, Owen Hart, a wrestler I was conditioned to hate, fell from the top of the arena and landed head first on a turnbuckle. Wow. I couldn’t believe what I had heard from my friend, and I actually doubted its validity. Eerily enough, I didn’t really find myself sad when I heard the news before watching Raw Is Owen. To me now, I can’t believe I ever wasn’t sad; but it was just like if the villain of a film was killed, would you be sad? In retrospect, I miss Owen Hart with each and every minute of WWE programming knowing that had he still been alive, there is no doubt in my mind he would have been a World Champion at least once by now.
After that though, I saw Raw Is Owen, and a strange thing happened that night. I saw the bad guys talking good about Owen Hart. I saw the people who swore Owen was a “nugget” cry over his death. Edge had just been feuding with Owen somewhat, and now he was telling stories about how good he was in “real life.” I even heard a crowd, who had just been booing him a week earlier, chant his name. It was all so confusing. But then it dawned on me.
This wasn’t real. Like I said guys, I was 12 and had been watching wrestling for 8 months, so leave me be. Now, sure, there would be some remorse for the loss of Owen, but if he was as bad as he was portrayed to be each week, would it be this much emotion and remorse, even from the people who were his sworn enemies? I seriously doubt it. I wasn’t offended. In my mind, it just turned out to be mini-action movies. And what was the problem with that?
You have people playing both good and bad roles, doing their own “stunts,” and doing whatever they can to make us cheer them or boo them. You have people like Vince McMahon as Christopher Walken, the perfect villain, and you had people like Steve Austin as Roger Moore, the perfect hero. Now, cast your feelings aside on those two actors, because it is just to illustrate a point and they were the first two to pop in my head.
It’s not like I didn’t like wrestling after this. I still did. In fact, I felt a little more intrigued in the product. How did they do this? How did they do that? And of course, it was just like watching an action movie in my mind, something I have been doing religiously since I was 6.
But something just changed in me after Owen Hart’s death.
I just stopped watching.
One week, I watched the whole show. The next week, I watched only the second hour, with the first hour being something I just glanced at. The week after that, I was just glancing at the whole show. And following that, I just forgot it was on.
I just stopped watching.
To this day, I do not know why. But I do know that wrestling wasn’t done with me. I do know that wrestling will never be done with me.
I would find my way back to the squared circle.
E-mail – firstname.lastname@example.org
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