Growing Up, Nostalgia, But Mostly Wrestling

WWF SmackDown! 2: Know Your Role

Man, I haven’t written here in a looong time. I don’t really have an excuse for not writing, I could say it was school and all the time it took out of me focusing on that and getting perfect marks, but we both know that it isn’t true. Nah, I haven’t really been doing much since last August when I last posted here, not much except watch wrestling. And when I mean watch wrestling, I mean WATCH WRESTLING. Ever since September it’s all I’ve been doing and all my brain’s been transfixed on. So, let’s actually put all that time to use and put words to screen. But, first, I guess we should back up a little.

I’m not entirely sure how I got into wrestling, but I’m pretty sure it was through my cousins. See, I grew up in the country with only three channels, a fourth would become slightly clearer during the winter for some reason (I’m assuming the lack of trees/blockage on trees has something to do with it). Anyways, I think it all started when I visited cousins who actually had cable to watch the channel, I saw it and was immediately drawn in by the characters. Scotty 2 Hotty was obviously a huge draw for a kid like me who thought spiky hair coming out of a bucket hat was the coolest thing. So, going home for someone who didn’t get to actually watch wrestling, what’d I do? The next best thing, video games. What is a greater crossroads to a preteen (or younger?) than wrestling + video games. And that game in question was WWF SmackDown! 2: Know Your Role, oh my god, I can’t even begin to explain how much I loved this game and how many hours I poured into it. It’s still my favorite game of all time and the greatest sense of nostalgia in my life is thinking back to the days of playing this game.

Now video games could only carry you so far in wrestling fandom without actually watching the product, so as memory serves I played the game, but slowly lost interest in it and moved on to other things. Now I don’t have the timeline completely straight, but sometime in early 2004 we got satellite. What a glorious day. I still remember rushing home from school that day when it was installed, rushing inside to put on Much Music to watch music videos, which at the time were the greatest, and were actually put on TV, let alone music channels. The first three are engrained in my head, Incubus’ (remember them?) “Megalomaniac,” which at that young age I assumed it was just some hating on the government that I didn’t truly understand, but it was loud and I LIKED THAT, DAMMIT. Next was the classic “Stacy’s Mom” from all-staying Fountain’s of Wayne followed by perhaps an even classicer classic with Kelis’ “Milkshake.” I’m really sorry about this probably very boring and pointless tangent that you could care less about, I’m just enjoying memory lane here, but, right, back to wrestling, the thing you really want to here about…

So, I’m fuzzy on the timeline exactly, somewhere around March or April of 2004, I was flipping along the channels saw wrestling, and was all of a sudden like “oh, right, I can watch wrestling now” and the realization hit me like a tidal wave and I was hooked ever since. And for, like, the next couple years it was all I was interested in.

When I say I was into wrestling I mean I was into wrestling. I had action figures, DVDs, a magazine subscription, trading cards, have multiple autographs from when superstars came to Edmonton, I’d scour the Internet for gossip, and have been to a handful of live events. My moment of ultimate glory was when I went to a taping of SmackDown here in Edmonton that John Cena at the time was headlining. He finished his match at the end of the night, proceeded to make his way to the crowd right below me, chugged some random guys beer and then started making his way up the steps in Rexall. This was my chance to see my hero up close and personal, so I ran down the steps and planted my right hand on Cena’s back. I still have yet to wash that hand.

I think it’s cool how you can trace back your life and see what type of person you were by the things you were interested in and how it segmented phases of your life. I was heavily into a ton of things growing up that I still like currently, but don’t dominant my life as a single entity that they once have. It’s almost got to the point where I wonder if for how long I’ll like the stuff I do now, but I guess that’s a symptom of being a human in an ever-changing environment of culture. From skateboarding to magic to wrestling, there was always a revolving things I was into, and that last one was the one to probably effect me the most.

I could classify it as solely liking WWE, but it definitely was any kind of wrestling, of course still the fake one, and not the actually one they want to kick out of the Olympics. I feel like every boy growing up likes wrestling at at least some point, whether it be for a day or, like, three years like it was for me. Either you tried to get into and it just wasn’t happening or you bought countless WWE action figures and staged fake wrestling events on your bed while their theme songs played in the background, or so I’ve heard…

I think WWE style wrestling is, like, soap-opera for dudes. Yes, of course tons of girls like it, but we’re not kidding anybody when we say it’s a male-driven sport. It’s telling stories with vibrant characters with twists and turns that just happen to get settled in a squared circle. I eventually just got bored of wrestling, grew out of it, I guess, I came home from vacation with hours on hours of it on my PVR, and it seemed like work getting through it all, I deleted it and I was done with it.

I always liked wrestling over the years, but it was just way too much of a commitment over the years to fully follow. I don’t really know why I came back to it in September of last year, nothing had really changed in my life, school had basically been the same, maybe it was general boredom of not much being on, or maybe it was the easy answer of watching Brock Lesnar beast again. It’s different now, though. Of course, back when I was 14 watching I knew it was fake, but definitely not to the degree of understanding ever little bit of detail and knowing what was being played for real and fake. Nowadays I’m aware of every little behind-the-scenes thing I can get my hands on and follow the business side just as much as the “for show” television side. It’s hard to quantify which one was the biggest fan, not that it matters, but back then I definitely enjoyed it more for the product they presented and now I’m more jaded and smarter about everything that is presented. I’m avoiding using the cliche “mark” and “smark” wrestling terms to pigeonhole fans because their use makes me cringe so much.

I’m not really sure what my intent of writing this article was, it originally was just going to be a brief intro/recap/background to the next article I’m going to write, but things spilled out of me. I’m obsessed with nostalgia, like, I mean everybody loves that feeling because it takes them back to a safe time, a time that can’t be harmed and is always there, it’s just how you unlock it for those brief instances that it truly shines. That’s the give-and-take of nostalgia, it’s such a great and reminiscent feeling, but you only get it in short bursts, and anymore would just ruin what makes it itself in first place. Wrestling is definitely this for me, and a lot of why I’m probably watching it when I did. I got into wrestling 10 years ago and loved John Cena, Randy Orton, Triple H and now I come back a decade later and there they still are, slightly different, but wholly the same people I watched when I was in junior high. It’s a cool feeling to have that connective tissue to the past through an episodic series that doesn’t end. Here’s a dumb obvious parallel, but wrestling is like life, it just keeps going, there is no season breaks or off-season it just keeps trucking whether you like it or not. I never thought in a million years I’d get back into wrestling, and especially at this even more insane excessive clip that I’m at now. It surely won’t last at this level forever, maybe I’ll stop watching again in a few months, or a year, but I know it’ll always be with me, occupying these corners of my brain, just waiting to be tapped again.