With â€œThe Wrestlerâ€ gaining critical acclaim in the film industry, it seems that people are actually paying attention to the world of Professional wrestling once again. Many here have poked and prodded at the idea of a full blown wrestling article, but pro wrestling is a really touchy subject among people and im sure to get a low score and some nasty commentsâ€¦ but hey that's the price you pay as a wrestling fan. Without further stalling, grab a bloody steel chair and read along as I recount my love affair with wrestling. This is just a warning but if you don't like wrestling, your most likely not going to like this article. Im sure there are plenty of retro video game articles freshly posted to keep you occupied.
I would have to say it all began just as all my other interests (Turtles, Joes and X-men), it began with action figures. You see all of the cool kids in the second grade had dozens of the above pictured Hasbro action figures, and the only way to fit in would be to pick one up myself. I remember my parents taking me to the Toys-R-Us one Saturday morning to pick out a figure, only problem was I had never even watched wrestling, not a single match. Once we finally found the aisle where the wrestling toys were hidden, I was shocked to find only a few choices. This would be my first experience dealing with the lack of wrestling merchandise. (Ill explain later)
So I picked out Shawn Michaels (as seen above). Why? You may ask. It all boils down to the badass fingerless gloves, you know just like Axel from Streets of Rage had. Little did I know, I had just started an obsession I would keep for many years to come. Now don't get me wrong here I loved Ninja Turtles and X-Men, and I most definitely had more of those figures than wrestling figures. But what made my love of wrestling figures was the supply and demand factor. Remember last paragraph when I said I struggled with lack of wrestling merchandise? Today you can get wrestling merchandise from grocery stores to gas stations but back in the day you only had two choices Toys-R-Us or Kaybe Toys. Unfortunately for me, shortly after I got my first figure, Toys-R-Us stopped selling them. Kaybe Toy's became the only place to get them, and since only one company produced them, the pickins were slim.
The toys weren't the only thing I fell in love with though, I finally saw my first match shortly after the Shawn Michaels purchase.
Bret Hart Vs. Owen Hart, no holds barred on Monday Night Raw, a match that still impresses me to this day. What exactly impressed me about the match? Let me answer that question with another question. What's not to like about two guys beating the hell out of each other? Its just that simple. Take Ninja Turtles for example, out of the hundreds of episodes you saw as a child, how many plots do you remember? Probably not many, but you know what you do remember? The ass kicking. Well that's wrestling in a nutshell.
The only thing better than watching wrestling on TV was seeing it live in person, a treat I would finally experience in 1995.The highlight of the night was seeing the one and only living legend Hulk Hogan. Everything else about the show I have completely forgotten ,and I would go on to see many more (many better) live shows, but the awesome feeling I got from seeing it for the first time will always be there. Oh yeah and I also won a life size Hulk Hogan stand, something that was worth over a hundred bucks at the timeâ€¦. Yeah its still proudly displayed in my room.
Another funny thing about wrestling is that even the greatest legends of my day are relatively unknown to the common person. For instance everyone knows who Hulk Hogan, even people who have never seen a match, but who do you know who that hall of famer above is? Most of you not, im sure. That man is Terry Funk, the godfather of hardcore wrestling, which brings me to my next topicâ€¦ sort of. When I was a kid, I actually believed wrestling was real, just like Santa and the Easter bunny. But just like good ol Saint Nick and his rabbit friend, you wise up to it all. Well once I wised up, the magic was pretty much gone. I felt like I had been lied to and betrayed, I stayed bitter for a long , long time. That is until I discovered ECW.
Extreme Championship Wrestling took away all the â€œfakeâ€ and replaced it with tons and tons of violence. You know like flaming tables, barbed wire baseball bats and bloody ladders? I couldn't care less that what I was watching was staged because it was so awesome. Any time I mention wrestling to a group of people the first thing I hear is â€œIts fakeâ€. Im so sick of hearing that, it would be like any time someone mentions a movie or a television show I just interject â€œYeah you know Rambo's fakeâ€. I would sound like an idiot if I did that. Guess what? We all are in on the joke, we all know its staged, we all know its â€œnot realâ€. But just like Rambo, the action kept me coming back for more. And ECW was where the action was. I once went to a free show ECW was having in 1998, I got to see big names like Rob Van Dam, Sabu, Tommy Dreamer and Balls Mahoney and of course (as pictured above) The Sandman. Not only did they hang out with us before the show, a friend of mine bummed a cigarette off Balls Mahoney. It was the greatest show I have ever seen, the main event was RVD vs. Spike Dudley, and to end it all Van Dam pilled 12 chairs on top of Dudley and proceeded to frog splash him into oblivion.
But just like all good things, ECW passed, and so did my love of wrestling. WWE had become boring (and to this day it pretty much still is) and WCW went the way of the buffalo. For years I didn't watch it at all, I had nothing at all to do with it. But one discovery changed all of that. Retro wrestling on DVD! Now I can go back and relive those childhood memories any time I want too! I have over 30 collections to date and WWE is pretty good about releasing new ones, in fact Greatest Wrestling Stars of the 90's just came out a few weeks ago. I suggest you check it out if you ever cared at all about wrestling, it might just spark your interest again the way it did mine.
In the past few years WWE has been cashing in on the whole retro wrestling thing like crazy. They even released a Legends of Wrestlemania gameâ€¦ and it completely sucks! Really stay away from this turd unless you light bad controls and a camera that has a mind of its own. What I would suggest however is you find some way to download and play WrestleFest the arcade game, a game where both retro gaming and retro wrestling collide!
I usually end my blogs with a bunch of crap about â€œdon't leave negative commentsâ€ and blah blah blah! But in the spirit of Retro Wrestling, I welcome the negative comments. Bring it on! Come get some! If you smelllllalalalalala what the Hawk is cookin!
Ps. 73 bonus points for anyone who knows what city Hall and Nash invaded the WCW in.