Quick Hits 10.18.02: When We Were Young

Television is an interesting thing, isn’t it?

Some of us sit down in front of the television to escape from the rigors of our everyday lives. We work 7-5, Monday through Friday, and when we come home the last thing we want to think about is the pressures and hassles that go along with the job. We don’t want to think about our boss and the little thing that dangles in the back of his throat when he yells at our crew. We don’t want to think about customers or customer support or board meetings or broken boards; we simply want to escape, to get away, if only for a little bit.

Some of us sit down in front of the television because we live vicariously through the actors, athletes and performers on our favorite sitcoms and sporting events. How many of you can honestly say that you didn’t admire or desire to be a James Bond or a Nolan Ryan when you were growing up? Chances are, you’re just like me, and you grew up standing outside on a fake pitching mound as the sun went down, preparing to deliver the final pitch of the World Series to the biggest, baddest hitter in baseball history. Millions of fans were screaming your name as you struck him out and were carried off the field, and the only time reality snuck in the door was when your mom poked her head out of the window and implored you to come eat because your dinner was getting cold.

“Just one more pitch, Mom.”

I watch wrestling for a variety of reasons. I was never all that interested in it as a child, instead preferring to concentrate my powers on the only subject that mattered: baseball. I was a sports fanatic, and the fact that we lived down the street from Nolan Ryan didn’t hurt that enthusiasm. I still remember the awe I felt standing with Reece Ryan at spring training many years ago as Larry Andersen prepared to pitch to us. Here I was, standing in the batters box, against a major league pitcher! It was the experience of a lifetime, to be sure, and the fact that I could barely SEE the ball, much less hit it, did nothing to deter me from my baseball dreams. After all, I was only 10, and baseball players didn’t hit their stride until at least 13!

My grandparents fueled my baseball desire, and they accidently fueled my wrestling desire as well. My granddad picked up tickets to the 1989 Royal Rumble in Houston thinking it would be a fun little outing. Little did he know that he would start the seeds of a fandom in me that would last a lifetime. See, at the time, I knew absolutely nothing about wrestling. I knew Hulk Hogan was the absolute greatest and that JYD was a favorite of my uncle, but beyond that I didn’t really follow all that much. Basically, I went into the Rumble completely blind, and when I left my eyes were open to a world I’d never seen before…but definitely wanted to experience more of.

I began watching wrestling in earnest that day. I wouldn’t say that it contributed to my baseball dreams dying in the least; the sport was completely ruined for me when I got to the high school level by a coach with a huge ego and an even bigger power trip. When I was younger, however, wrestling became a connection between my counsins and I; we’d talk about the latest happenings, discuss who was the best wrestler ever (in the WWF, of course) and try to figure out who would win the main event of the next pay per view. They only happened once every three months, and they were SPECIAL occasions! Our entire family would get together, gather in front of the tube, and for three hours we’d focus on nothing but the strange little world created by this overhyped carny and his crack staff.

And you know what? It was great.

I didn’t know anything about match ratings or workrate or backstage conflicts back then. All I could count on was the good guy beating the bad guy at the end of the day. The only time I ever really worried about an outcome to a storyline was the time Jake Roberts went evil and his snake bit Randy Savage in the arm. I’d never seen anything quite so dastardly! It was a storyline executed to perfection, and it still remains one of my top five favorite angles of all time in pro wrestling.

I wouldn’t exactly say that I’ve been “ruined” by becoming smart to the business; rather, I’d say that my enjoyment of it has been stifled because I’ve grown to expect so much from the product. There’s something to be said for just sitting back and enjoying what you see, but it’s hard to do that when you’re having to endure Raw for two hours every week. I’d much rather them replace that show with something like WWE Superstars, where your top stars wrestle jobbers every week. For angles, they could just show recaps of Smackdown storylines. It would work!

See, I want desperately to enjoy the WWE product as a whole. I’ve been a fan for a really, really long time and I have stood by them through thick and thin, but the rate at which Raw is going downhill is really starting to wear on me. I’m not sure how much longer I can support a promotion that knows exactly how to fix things, yet will not do so because they are trying to rehash old angles and storylines and shock the audience into submission. If you’re going to rehash old storylines, go back and take a look at some of your stuff from the early nineties, because at least it will SEEM fresh.

Here’s the moral of the story:

Watching wrestling is a release for everyone. It’s a means of escape, it is a form of entertainment, and it’s a distraction all rolled into one. When the show becomes so hard to watch that it’s no longer something you enjoy, it’s time to make a change. I’m tired of resets, I’m tired of promises that you’ll do better — I simply want an effort.

A REAL effort, not an empty promise and then insane writing from your staff that obviously has no clue what wrestling is all about.