The Column With No Name: How it Began (and now it begins)

Hooooooooooow’s it going everybody. I am not Bryan Alvarez, and Dave Meltzer‘s not here. My name’s Morgado, and this is my first column about something I spend way too much time talking about in real life. Professional wrestling.

We might as well get a few things straight right off the bat. I want this column to actually be about topics. By that I mean, I’d like to avoid doing the “couple paragraphs about this, couple paragraphs about that, couple paragraphs about this weeks television” approach that so many columns take, not because it’s bad but because I see it a lot. That’s not to say I might not do so occasionally, but for the most part I’d prefer to stick with more of an op/ed approach mixed with some personal writings about my favorite/least favorite things about wrestling. I’m going to do my best to avoid a recurring gimmick like a top ten list or anything like that. I’m just going to write about something that has brought me a great deal of enjoyment (and often a great deal of frustration).

I also don’t have a name for this column yet. I was going to call it No Gimmicks Needed, but it’s been done. So suggestions are welcome.

A quick bit of “about me”:  I’m 31 years old. I’ve been Straight Edge since I was 15, like actual hardcore punk rock Straight Edge, not some dude who doesn’t drink or smoke who saw CM Punk on ECW and took the label. I was in a band called The Wrong Side, and I stole Raven‘s crucified pose for use as a stage move before song breakdowns. I’m mildly agoraphobic and usually broke, so I’ve never been to a live wrestling event. I didn’t become an obsessive watch every week wrestling fan until 1997. Not because I didn’t love wrestling, but because I was unable to do so until I went away to college. And that’s what I’m going to talk about today. Because much as I’d like to say I remember the exact moment I fell in love with professional wrestling…

I can’t.

I only remember the vaguest details. I was old enough to be left home alone Saturday mornings when my little sister had soccer games, but young enough that I wasn’t allowed to have the television on while no one else was home.  My father’s first stop when they returned would be the cable box, to see if it was warm. I always preferred books over television, so it was no big deal. Unless there was something specific I wanted to sneak peek at while they were out, I just left it off. But at some point in the early 90s, I discovered WWF Superstars.

I had never been allowed to watch wrestling during the Hogan years. My cousin did, and in the summers when the families got together at my grandparents, he would regale me with tales of Hulk Hogan slamming Andre the Giant. Of The Mega Powers exploding. Of Hulk Hogan’s cartoon adventures in the world’s of Rock and Wrestling.  That was my entire exposure during the “boom period” of the 80s. Any attempts I made to actually watch what my cousin was were shot down by my anti-“rasslin” parents, and as my cousins interest faded eventually I forgot about it. Until one Saturday morning in what was most likely 1992 or 93.

I must have been out of library books, because on this particular Saturday morning, I went for the tv. I don’t know how it caught my attention, I don’t know why, but I ended up on WWF Superstars. And was enthralled. I don’t know why. It was the era of neon tights and wrestling dentists. Doink the Clown and Men on a Mission. There was no logical reason for it to suck me in. Maybe it was the memories of the excitement stirred in my imagination by my cousins reenactments of matches in Grandma’s swimming pool. Maybe it was because it reminded me of another guilty pleasure that I was not allowed to have: comic books. The brightly colored spandex and international cast of characters the then WWF were using at the time brought to mind the Justice League and X-men back issues Joe LaPointe would give me on the morning bus ride that I would then sneak home. But for whatever reason, I started watching every Saturday I could, using my imagination to fill in whatever details I missed. In summers when we would visit my Grandma Rose down on Buzzard’s Bay, I would use the beat up old television I had on the floor of my bedroom to try and make out what little I could through the UHF static that usually covered TV68.

WWF Superstars at that time was a mix of current angle recaps and squash matches. And given the child friendly content of the time, it wasn’t something that was going to stick with me as I got older. Fortunately, by 1995 I had discovered WCW Saturday Night on TBS, home to such jobber mainstays as Sgt Craig Pittman and The Gambler. While there was still a pre-disposition towards neon outfits, and while I knew the outcomes were pre-determined, it felt more real to me. Even with Hulk Hogan running around in seemingly endless feud with Kevin Sullivan, the majority of the show was still presented as closer to an athletic competition then a straight up comic book fight. Many was the Saturday night where I would go into my parents room on the pretense of watching Star Trek The Next Generation, only to change the channel over to TBS.  Eventually I stopped trying to sneak watch Superstars in favor of the sure thing of watching Saturday Night. I still distinctly remember how hard I laughed when I first saw Fit Finlay’s one shoulder pad and mullet combo, and how quickly I stopped once his ring work started.

That was my only exposure to wrestling while in junior high school and high school. No PPV’s. No Monday Night Raw or Monday Nitro. That’s all I had. I think that’s why, once I got to college and found out that people would watch Nitro and Raw in the dorm room lounge, I immersed myself so deeply. At first there were just a couple of us, then as the popularity of wrestling grew, there would be a whole crowd of people hanging out in the dorm lounge waiting to see who would join the N.W.O next, or who Austin would stun (tho my friends and I were the only ones who remembered what Chyna looked like when she debuted, or Goldberg getting punked out by Mongo with a steel pipe). When I moved on to the private apartments on campus, my roommate and I would constantly be watching, along with our downstairs neighbor. And when we weren’t watching, we were playing WCW/N.W.O. Revenge on Nintendo 64. When I went home for break, I now openly watched each and every Monday night. At that point I was an adult, so while my parents made fun of me for it, they weren‘t going to say no. Once the ball got rolling, I just never stopped watching.

I worked hard for my love of wrestling, because it was something I wasn’t supposed to have. I worked hard to make that love grow. And grow it did, to the point that now I’m writing about it. Once a week. Every week. Right here, on the Pulse.

See you in a week.

Tags: , , , , ,