From the very fact that at some point during our lives we say that we want to be professional wrestlers …there is obviously something mentally wrong with us. – Chris Candido, 1972-2005
I want to write a thing about the wonderful, mental, seedy, sleazy, beautiful world of professional wrestling. Here is the proposal, but I want to go into a bit more detail about it.
I’ve been watching wrestling on and off since I was about 6 years old. I started with the cartoon-style WWF, with Hulk Hogan going on about prayers and vitamins, Ultimate Warrior generally just ranting, Bret Hart being the excellence of execution, and goddamnit, I even liked Koko B Ware. I would enjoy it as wrestling really should be enjoyed — by completely buying into it. When I was about 13-14, after years of suspicion, I finally found out that pro wrestling wasn’t entirely on the level. It might actually be the dreaded f-word – fake.
A subscription to Power Slam magazine would confirm my suspicions and pro wrestling went from a colourful, camp tale of super heroes battling each other each week, to a horrible saga involving backstage politics, drug and alcohol abuse, finally ending in the ultimate tragedy – the double-murder and suicide of Chris Benoit.
I stopped watching after the Benoit incident because I couldn’t help but feel like I was partially responsible. Chris Benoit’s brain was so damaged it “resembled the brain of an 85-year-old Alzheimer’s patient” according to a neurosurgeon. He had damage to all four lobes of the brain and brain stem. And why was his brain like this? Because he’d done it to himself in order to entertain me and millions of others.
I’d loved wrestling up until that event, but I found it hard to reveal to people that I loved it. During the boom in 1998-2001, it wasn’t so bad, because wrestling was absolutely everywhere. In 2015, it’s kind of hard to come out of the wrestling closet. Why, though?
Pro wrestling, as I hope to explain in the article, is basically ballet, it’s a dance, at its best it’s two men telling a story with their bodies. The themes don’t generally get more complicated than good vs evil, and the storylines themselves are almost always moronic, badly written and badly executed, but my god, when they get it right, it’s mesmerising. For every Katie Vick moment, there’s a match like Shawn Michaels vs Ric Flair at Wrestlemania 21. I won’t spoil it, but the end of the match genuinely had me in tears.
I’m going to see if I can get people who have no interest in it to watch and enjoy a match. Is it even possible? I’m going to try and sell it to you, the majority who couldn’t care less. If you could, please take 60 seconds and sign up to Contributoria (for free) and back my article (for free) so I can pay my rent and talk about this beautiful, terrible sport.