Counterfeit Pennies: The Wrestling Hours, Parts 1 and 2

I have watched pro wrestling since I was 6 years old. Unbelievably, it’s been 25 years since my first embedded memories of Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant, and in that time I couldn’t even calculate how many hours I have spent watching the different TV shows, PPV programs, and live events.

What I have come to learn is that anything really can and will happen in The Wrestling Hours…

The Wrestling Hours, Part 1: A Giant’s Influence

I remember loving Andre the Giant in The Princess Bride, to the point where when he turned his back on Hulk Hogan I felt like the world would end.

Until Hulk body slammed Andre, and then all was right again.

I remember seeing Andre years later, on crutches, barely being able to walk when coming back to WWF one last time. And then he died, and I cried.

Hard.

I ruffle through some old T-Shirts, and I smile just before letting out a full-blown laugh. It says, “I’m on the Brute Squad!”, and Andre is smiling back, without a care in the world.

Thanks big guy.

For everything.

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The Wrestling Hours, Part 2: Incredible Hulk

When Hulk lifted up Andre and slammed him to the ground, it made me feel like I could do anything.

If I wanted to lift boulders, I could without breaking a sweat.

If I wanted to fly, I could jump out the window and soar.

If I wanted to finally beat Pitfall for the Commodore 64, I’d find my way.

None of those things actually ever happened, and to this day I still can’t get past the first few levels of Pitfall.

But that body slam was an incredible moment that left an indelible impression on me for years.

And then I grew up, forgetting that doing the impossible could still be an option.

And then I saw it.

This still-Incredible Hulk went Hollywood to weave magic once again, a second dose that was potent enough to give him one more WrestleMania moment, one more time for black and white and gray to bleed yellow and red and gold.

I saw it, and it made me feel like I could do anything once again.

If I wanted to write poetry for strangers in Vienna like that guy in Before Sunrise, I could swing it.

If I wanted to become a radio DJ in an mp3 world, I could still manage to get a regular gig.

If I wanted to finally beat The Ocarina of Time, I could break out my Nintendo 64 and figure it out.

None of those things happened either, but I’ll never forget the range of emotions I felt when that Skydome crowd cheered for the still-incredible Hulk, and you could tell that Terry, the man behind the curtain, was just as thankful that we all remembered enough of the good old days to loudly and boisterously erupt.

And then I grew up some more. Not the fake growing up where you go from 5 to 15 or from 15 to 20, but rather the type of growing up where you are now 31 years old and wondering where all the hours and days and weeks and months and years of your twenties went, let alone The Wrestling Hours.

And now I see it.

Terry is back, back pain and all, on crutches, hoping for one last creation of a memory, one last impression.

Andre the Giant showed up once on crutches, too, just before he died, long after he passed the torch to that once-Incredible Hulk, now a shell of his former self.

I’ll awkwardly hope for magic, and determinedly pray for Terry.

The Wrestling Hours wear on………

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