A Wrestling Column 06.22.04: Please


I was six years old when I got my first wrestling figures, Hulk Hogan and The Iron Sheik. I don’t know why my parents bought them for me and they don’t remember. All I know is I started to watch on Saturday morning. I started to want more of the dolls. I started wrestling with my brothers.

As I got older I started to watch more. I’d watch the recap show on Sunday with Lord Alfred Hayes. I asked my parents to take me to live events, and they did. For my 10th birthday they took me and 10 of my friends to the Nassau Coliseum where Bad News Brown briefly brought me over to the dark side by Ghetto-Kicking Hulk Hogan and then just walking away from the ring. I was at Summerslam when The Ultimate Warrior destroyed the Honky Tonk Man in 15 seconds. I’d ask my parents to let me stay up late to watch the broadcast of the WWF MSG shows. I’d beg them to let me stay up late to watch Saturday Night Main Event. I was screaming that the referee was fake when Hulk Hogan was quickly and unjustly pinned by Andre the Giant. I couldn’t sleep that night I was so angry.

I never watched NWA growing up. When Ric Flair came to the WWF as the “Real World’s Champion” I honestly had no idea who he was. He looked like a small guy in a shiny bathrobe. I didn’t understand why he got the title, and I didn’t understand how he was the champion going in to Wrestlemania while Hulk Hogan seemed to be content to fight against Sid. It was only after I read a friend’s PWI magazine that I found out there was another wrestling organization. I tried to watch it but it bored me. It wasn’t the WWF.

In the 7th grade my friends stopped coming over to watch wrestling with me. They didn’t care about the PPV’s. I watched Bret Hart rise to greatness alone. I mourned Andre The Giant’s death privately. I saw The Undertaker beat gigantic threat after gigantic threat and couldn’t talk about it with anyone. They had matured. They didn’t like wrestling anymore. They didn’t care about the WWF. Wrestling was fake. It was for kids. I didn’t argue that point, Vince McMahon had admitted it was a spectacle and the whole world knew it. There were scandals with pedophilia and steroids that made the news. I don’t know why I still watched, but I did. I enjoyed it, all of it. Even the stupid kids stuff.

Then something new came out. It was called the Internet. I liked Prodigy. It let me talk to my friends from camp whom were far away. I liked America Online even more. The chat rooms were cool. I was able to pretend I was a lesbian and I once even picked up a college chick! She didn’t want to still date when she found out I was 14, but hey, I picked up a college chick! I would try to chat in the WWF AOL chat room, but it was close to impossible. Everyone wanted you to join an e-fed or cyber. While you could occasionally talk about wrestling with someone, it didn’t last long. Then I discovered that there was an actual Internet beyond AOL. I did a search on Web Crawler for a bunch of stuff, and then I tried WWF. And that’s where I found The Bagpipe Report.

I was blown away. I’d heard talk of dirt sheets in PWI, but I had never read one. It turned out that nobody liked Hulk Hogan. Steamboat and Flair were apparently the greatest wrestlers of all time. And the backstage news! There were people with egos! There were plans for storylines for months into the future! Also, there was a special kind of terminology that the wrestlers used! Heel! Face! Jobber! I learned so much more about the business that I admired so greatly. This was the coolest thing ever.

I kept watching the WWF, but I read that Scott Hall and Kevin Nash were going to WCW to start an invasion angle. The WWF vs. WCW! I had to watch, but don’t get me wrong. I stuck with the WWE. I would flip, but I stuck with them. As fan after fan and wrestler after wrestler deserted Vince McMahon for Ted Turner, Monday Night Raw was on in my house. Eric Bischoff would announce the result of matches on Raw, but I didn’t care because I had already read the results online. It didn’t matter to me that the outcomes were know and that Nitro had “THE GREATEST MATCH IN THE HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSE COMING UP NEXT”, I stuck with WWF. Why did I do that when all of the cool stuff was on Nitro, when all of the wrestlers from my childhood were on another channel? Internet bias.

When Vince McMahon was down, the Internet was on his side. My favorite site on the net, Scoops, seemed to be on the WWF’s side. Even after The Fake Diesel and Razor Ramon we stuck with the WWF because, well, we just wanted the company to survive. It wasn’t my life, but it was a big part of my youth and the Internet reminded me of that. Everything WCW was retarded. Tony Schiavone was the worst announcer of all time. Hulk Hogan was holding everyone on the roster down. Bret Hart had no right to complain and in fact got what he deserved. Goldberg was a one trick pony. The NWO was stale. DDP was pushing 80 and only getting pushed because he was Eric Bischoff’s butt buddy. Bischoff was the worst television personality of all time. The Internet told me this, and I believed the Internet.

I never went to a WCW show, only WWF. I never bought an NWO tee-shirt. I would watch Raw and read CRZ’s Nitro recap on Wrestleline. I would read both Mop-Ups, but only because Chris Hyatte was insanely funny and occasionally offensive. I didn’t plan to learn anything about last night’s show from them, just piss my pants laughing. Then the WWF fought back with Stone Cold and bad guy Vince and The Rock and Mick Foley. They finally realized that they weren’t trying to win over the young fans during prime time on Monday night. They were trying to win the fans like me back, the ones who grew up with the WWF but had in fact grown up. The WWF gave us programming skewed towards our age range. Wrestling’s second golden age began.

The WWF won. The Internet cheered. I still loved wrestling so much that I wanted to combine my love of writing fiction with my love of wrestling and my love of the Internet. My favorite site at the time was 411wrestling.com, and for one reason: Chris Hyatte. Chris Hyatte liked my tale and asked Widro to make me a columnist. Widro did. I was so excited at first that I told everyone. I was a celebrity! It took a few months for the realization to sink in that I wasn’t a real celebrity, just a guy with a computer who could write okay and liked the WWFE. When I filled in for Hyatte I stole his style and his jokes, albeit with a more innocent tone. Writing about wrestling, being an IWC member, it made me someone, even if it wasn’t completely real, even if I wasn’t paid. I had fans. God I loved having fans. I still love having fans. You’ve helped me when no one else could. You’ve bolstered my confidence when I felt low. You’re amazing.

I never shared too many opinions on wrestling, just jokes. When Austin beat his wife, I wrote an angry column about that. When the WWE fooled GLAAD, I wrote that the WWE should have remembered that GLAAD was the only organization on their side and they stabbed them in the back. Besides that, just jokes. Just stories. I let others share their opinions, promote Benoit, shit on The Undertaker. I had opinions too that I talked about in IMs, but I never really shared them in my column. It was just wrestling. Nothing to get worked up about. All of the politics in the back didn’t bother me at all.

I actually applied to the WWE to become a writer. I’d written plays and screenplays and spec scripts with a focus on comedy, and I thought that my attention to small details which make things funnier could help. I’d been a wrestling fan all of my life, I was a writer, and I could make people laugh. I thought I’d fit in perfectly. I never heard back from them, but they did address me in another way.

Vince McMahon said I’m a parasite. HHH said he doesn’t care about what I think. John Bradshaw Layfield called me a homosexual and called all of my readers nerds. Even wrestlers the Internet is behind 100%, Chris Benoit and Chris Jericho and Ric Flair, they basically called me a joke and said that I don’t matter one bit. They said all this because I’m an Internet writer who has never wrestled. I have no idea what I’m talking about. My opinions are crap.

Well, I have a response for them. Bullshit.

I speak for myself, but a lot of my readers share similar stories. My family must have given your company at least ten thousand dollars in action figures and tickets and shirts and magazines and videos and DVDs and books by wrestlers and pay per views. I stood by the WWE when wrestlers and fans were flipping over to Nitro. I danced with the Junk Yard Dog. I sobbed when Owen Hart died. I watched all alone while the rest of your young fans deserted you. I wrote an angry letter to Phil Mushnick when he criticized you. I wrote an angry letter to the PTC when they went after you. I wrote an angry letter to Margaret Carlson when she went after you. I have stood up for professional wrestling in arguments with people who think it’s the lowest form of entertainment on Earth. I watched the XFL, and I hoped for your success. I went to see No Holds Barred. I have been a fan for over 15 years. That might not sound very long to you, but it’s more than half my life. For more than half my life I have stood tall as a fan of the WWF, the WWFE, and now the WWE.

So I found sites with rumors. So I enjoy the gossip. So I enjoy having some fans who like what I write about what the WWE does. It’s just a hobby, and it’s one I used to enjoy. I don’t enjoy writing this. I don’t enjoy telling the company that I feel betrayed. I have been nothing but loyal and a fan and you have told me to go f*ck myself.

The Internet is a place where I can discuss wrestling without having to defend it as a whole. I’ll still defend it as a whole to others, but on the Internet I can discuss specifics and dig deeper. Some of my opinions are going to be negative, I’m not going to love every match or every story line, but I have been a fan for 15 years and I have a right to have those opinions. You don’t have to agree with one thing that I say, but I have a right to say it. I’m not a stock holder, but before you went public my family gave you an awful lot of money in order to keep me and my brothers happy, and then I gave you a lot of my own money. Is my support worth anything to you, or does the fact that I write a column on the Internet trump all of that?

24 is going on head to head with you in January. Monday Night Football is going on against you in September. There are plenty of shows on Thursday night that I can watch. There are millions of other options that I can spend my money on. If you hate me so much, I’ll go. You’re laughing at me today, but I think you’ll miss me tomorrow.

I have given you my money and support and loyalty, and I don’t even want a thank you. Just stop telling me to go f*ck myself. Please.