Saturday, February 10, 2007

The Way It Started

I really don't remember how my fascination with wrestling started. I do remember that the first show I saw was the WWF Special Smackdown on UPN. I saw it, thought it was pretty cool but didn't give it much thought. I didn't know much about the storyline going on at the time and didn't think twice about trying to watch Raw is War. Then Smackdown came back as a full fledged show and that is when I started watching. Ads were running for it and I decided I would make a point of watching this. However before that, I knew that Raw is War was aired on Mondays so I decided to watch that as well. It happened to be the night after the pay-per-view SummerSlam. Mankind happened to have just won the WWF Championship from Stone Cold Steve Austin and Triple H had been in that match. Triple H wanted a match with Mankind and he got it. And that is where Triple H won his first championship. It was just such a different experience. I had an idea that wrestling was fake. At that point I didn't know in what sense though. Was the story real? Were the moves real? I hadn't seen, read or heard enough about it to make a judgment. So when that first show of Smackdown came around, that is where it really didn't matter. For me, the person that changed it around for me was the Rock. I hadn't even seen him wrestle and I was already a fan. The way he spoke to Triple H was amazing. He used his famous "stick it straight up your candy ass" line. For me, it wasn't so much about the wrestling but instead it was about the story. I just wanted to see what would happen, what they would say. It was similar to a comic book. I am also a big fan of Spider-Man and wrestling seemed to fit that same mold. Great action and a fast paced story.
So I started watching wrestling in 1999 and I stopped in 2002. It happened for the same reason, the Rock left and things just didn't seem the same. The story lines seemed too forced and there were too many wrestlers. It happened to be after the merger of ECW and WCW with the WWF and the change to WWE was made. I think I lost the interest because the wrestlers that interested me were not there anymore. It was not worth it to get back into the story if my favorite wrestler was gone. Though I did read about wrestling later on and do wish I had watched more of it because it was around that time that Shawn Michaels began a feud with Triple H and the Rock did come back. Though he turned heel and I don't know how much I would have enjoyed that.
I spent some time looking at old videos of wrestling before I got into it. The person that I became a fan of was Shawn Michaels. He acrobatics and skill just seemed to outshine the person he would wrestle with. And so I watched his feud with Triple H over the championship and it had many spectacular matches such as a three stages of hell match where it is a contest of best two out of three. What really brought me back to wrestling was the possible return of Degeneration X. Rumors happened to be going around and it was the actions of Triple H and Shawn Michaels that made me think it was going to happen. And so when it happened, I just could not stop watching. Degeneration X had been a stable in 1997 and 1998 and their trademark "Suck It" catchphrase was something that I always wished I had been there to see. The later incarnations just didn't seem to do the original team of Shawn Michaels, Triple H and Chyna justice.
I will write more about Degeneration X and what happened to them over the past year later but to give you guys a sense of what it was that made me a fan, I will leave you with these clips of the first episode of Smackdown!
Smackdown first clip
Smackdown second clip


Sam Ford said...

Luis, another interesting post about what got you started watching pro wrestling, and also what eventually drove you away.

Thanks for including the clips. Talk about specificity, and it emphasizes the way YouTube has helped serve wrestling fans to access very particular content not currently commercially available, like these clips.

I see you make the same comparison between wrestling and comic books that Mike Chapman, the wrestling historian, made in The Unreal Story of Professional Wrestling. And Spider-Man is a particularly apt comparison, since his origin story includes pro wrestling.

As for the original questions you posted, Luis, about what initially interested you in the sport, do you think the appeal of modern wrestling is different than the early TV era we're looking at right now?

Alex Maki said...

The Rock is indeed a great performer and attracted a lot of male AND female viewers into watching wrestling. Shawn Michaels, another wrestler mentioned in your blog, is still the "Showstopper" that he bragged himself to be so many years ago as he was developing his "Heartbreak Kid" moniker. Reading HBK's autobiography, Heartbreak & Triumph, will give you more of that HBK attitude that so many people love when they watch him weekly on RAW.