Whenever I decide to follow it, wrestling entertains
Posted: Monday July 17, 2006 3:07PM; Updated: Monday July 17, 2006 4:05PM
The Rock carried the WWE through a huge wave of popularity.
Atlanta, late last night, couldn't sleep. I tried ESPN, but the ESPYs were on, hosted by an emotionless robot built to resemble Lance Armstrong. I flipped around for a while before landing on the local Comcast Sports station, where I discovered a scantily clad woman gripping a microphone, interviewing a muscular man with wet hair who pronounced that he was from New Jersey. He was slated to momentarily fight a man from New York City, so naturally there was plenty of animosity there, New York and New Jersey being such bitter rivals and all. The man from New Jersey stared wild-eyed into the camera and spoke passionately, elucidating some of the fundamental differences between the two men and explaining why fighting was really the only way to settle these things. One reason given: "I like pizza, he likes pasta."
I was, of course, watching wrestling, and for a few moments I was transported back to 1987. During the late '80s I was in middle school, and wrestling was one of the few things that mattered in my life. (From what I recall, some other important things from that time frame included Run DMC, Georgia Tech basketball and the baseball game on Super Nintendo.) At that time the WWF was in full swing, and my heroes were men known by nicknames like The Dragon, The Animal, Magnificent and Handsome. My favorite tag team was the British Bulldogs, and I'm convinced that Davey Boy Smith and The Dynamite Kid are at least partly responsible for my being an anglophile today. Somehow I convinced my parents to spring for Wrestlemania on Pay Per View each year, and I would tape the event and re-watch it endlessly. Weekends were the best. One of the local Atlanta stations had a marathon program that aired all night long entitled Superstars of Wrestling. It was essentially a compendium of several hourlong wrestling shows, from the WWF to NWA to Mid-South Wrestling Alliance to the brilliant G.L.O.W. (the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling).
The apex (or nadir) of my love for wrestling may have come in seventh grade, when I was required to do a research project for a social-studies class. I produced a complex, nuanced paper examining the various good and bad factions in the WWF while detailing the reasons, for example, that Rowdy Roddy Piper and Adrian Adonis were blood enemies.