A couple of weeks ago I did a retrospective where I looked back at all of my near-misses with G.I. Joe and how, for all intents and purposes, I should have gotten really into that franchise, yet somehow didn’t.
I want to do the same thing with the sports entertainment known as professional wrestling. My opinions of this topic has teetered back and forth over the years, I suspect mainly for some of the same reasons I wanted to get into G.I. Joe, but couldn’t. So let’s start at the beginning.
First, I never cared that ti was “fake” or “rigged” or whatever. My earliest memories of pro wrestling was, of course, Sgt. Slaughter who appeared on G.I. Joe, and Mr. T, who not only appeared in the A-Team, which I did watch, but also in Rocky 3, a movie franchise I watched regularly growing up. But, I actually knew of Sgt. Slaughter BEFORE I saw him on the cartoon. I distinctly remember having an uncle introduce me to a WWF wrestling match that had Sgt. Slaughter facing off against some guy who I can’t for the life of me remember anything about. My dad sort of watched wrestling, or wrasslan, as he called it. I also had uncles and friends who were into the “sport” as well. I never got into real sports that much as a kid so it was easy for me to dismiss professional wrestling as just another boring sport. The thing is, I always enjoyed the colorful characters, the way they tried to make it like there was a story, and the video games, if nothing else I can say I did play a lot of wrestling games, especially the ones on NES and Genesis, to me those were definitely worthy games to play.
My interest began to wind down in the late 1990’s. I tried following wrestling into the early 90’s but we never had cable and we couldn’t watch Pay-Per-View, so my exposure was very limited. As time went on and the characters I remembered went on to do movies or TV commercials, I started to lose interest. I also became even more involved with video games and comic books, which to me I always saw wrestling as a perfect blend of live-action video games and as good as we were going to get, at the time, live-action comic book type stories and characters.
Sometime in the late 90’s, around the PS1 and N64 ere, I took a weird turn. Suddenly as wrestling became more popular, as more of my friends got into it and it grew into more than just some weird things only weirdos like me enjoyed, it became very mainstream, I stopped caring all together. It had nothing to do with it becoming mainstream, in fact I still loved MTV’s Celebrity Death Match, and I would occasionally tune into WCW Nitro or WWF Raw with a friend once in a while, yet I never knew what was going on, my real issue was I got out of it, and I didn’t know what was going on. I tried getting back in when “Hollywood Hogan” was doing his WCW NWO thing, which to this day I still don’t entirely know what was going on. What happened with the N64 and PS1 was, I lost interest in sports and “extreme sports” especially. I didn’t get into Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, or Wave Race, etc., I dug my heals in and played Mario, Mortal Kombat, Mega Man, Final Fantasy, games that, to me at the time, represented real or “pure” gamer games, and I shunned all sports games, including wrestling. I had plenty of sports games on NES, SNES and especially Genesis. Not just the staples either like NBA Jam, or Skate or Die, you know the sports games it was okay for gamers to play. I had NHL 94, RBI Baseball on Sega, I had Joe Montana Sports Talk Football, hell I even had a ton of generic random Nintendo published sports games, not the Mario stuff but Pro Action Football, Tecmo Bowl, etc, Blades of Steel, I played sports games, I didn’t watch them on TV but I played the video games.
I always felt like with wrestling, there was no reason for me to not get into it. I like comic books, I like video games, I like fighting games and beat-em-ups especially, why wouldn’t I get into it? When I was in college I had to do a group presentation and the topic we did was the history of professional wrestling. I discovered that learning the history of the popular form of entertainment did soften my attitude towards it, but still not enough to develop a further curiosity.
Fast forward a few years and I recently started listen to certain podcasts by other gamers with similar interest as myself and they talk about pro wrestling a lot. I guess as I look back over the years the on thing that stands out in my mind the most is how close I came to becoming an actual fan of wrestling. One thing that I am certain happened was as I became more into comic book and super hero movies, and as the quality of those movies improved, I had less of a reason to go back and try to make sense out of what was going on with WWE and everything else.
I never attended any live matches, I never watched any of the pay-per-views, Royal Rumbles, or Wrestlemania’s, so for me I guess I just never got into it, even though a part of me always wanted to. I have been contemplating digging up some old matches online sometime and maybe just seeing if I can get into it. In the meantime I just look back at another thing that I came so close to enjoying, yet somehow missed out on.