A YeAR OF WReSTLING, AND A YeAR OF SLaSH
It was an otherwise uneventful night in late March when I rediscovered WWF, and through it, wrestling in general, and this website.
As a child, I'd grown up watching the adventures of Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant, and others on Saturday mornings -- cartoons as well as the real thing. I'd stayed up late to watch the Saturday Night Main Event. I'd seen two shows live at the Providence Civic Center. I'd sung along with them on a record.
I remember being heartbroken when the Killer Bees lost an important match. I remember jeering Rowdy Roddy Piper. I remember Rick Steamboat "choking on his own tongue" after the Macho Man "crushed his throat" with the ring bell. I remember thinking the Ultimate Warrior's military press drop was the coolest move ever, except for maybe a top-rope superplex.
However, as I'd grown up, other things had taken the time I'd once spent watching wrestling. It wasn't "cool" anymore. As I went through high school and college and grew cynical, I looked down on wrestling as phonies putting on a show for idiots. I was prejudiced. When I heard someone talk about the NWO, or Degeneration-X, or say "Suck it!" I turned up my nose.
I was just turning my back on the fact that, in my heart, I'm a great big mark.
March 29, 1999, 2000. It'd been a long day at work. I ate dinner and started channel-surfing, nearly comatose on the couch. I hit TNT... Nitro? Who the hell are THESE guys? Oh my god, is that... Hulk Hogan? He's OLD! Ugh, keep surfing... but hey, isn't WWF supposed to be on Monday nights too? Let's check that out...
And in case you don't recognize the date, that night's RAW came just one night after Wrestlemania XV. A HHH heel turn. Stone Cold got the belt back. It was one hell of a show. Even if I only recognized two wrestlers (Undertaker and the Big Boss Man) the WWF's Warzone was enough to get me hook, line and sinker. People like the Brood, Ken Shamrock, and Kane entertained the hell out of me.
I was a mark again.
It wasn't long before I was watching Heat too, and if I happened to be awake, Livewire, Jakked, and Superstars. I went to my trusty friend the Internet for more info, and found rec.sports.pro-wrestling.moderated. From there CRZ and the Netcop led me to WrestleLine (or WrestleManiacs).
I began my transition to an Internet smark.
I learned about workrate, and blading, and jobbing. I learned the truth behind the scenes, or what little of it made it into the gossip sheets. I learned about the fall and rebuild of the WWF, and the subsequent collapse of WCW. I learned about ECW. I learned the names Jericho, Benoit, and Guerrero. I saw WWF live again, for the first time in over ten years, in Worcester, MA, on the night my hero Ken Shamrock beat (current WCW champion) Jeff Jarrett -- while in a straitjacket!
It wasn't long before one of my favorite Wrestleline columnists began advertising his own website -- it was a spare, simply designed place where content was everything. I started reading some of the regular columns and features, by Dan Doomsday, Michaelangelo, Chris Jones, CyanIndigo... this was a good place. It was a fan site, but smarter. And CRZ's policy was clear -- if you wrote well and made a good point he'd publish you. He even advertised that fact.
I wanted to see my name up in HTML. I wanted to Join the Crew.
A few months later, when one episode of RAW had me fuming, that's exactly what I did. In retrospect it's a bit disjointed, but hey, I was now a published wrestling critic!
By this point I was also a full-on wrestling junkie. [slash], WrestleLine and WrestleZone were the first web sites I checked in the morning and the last sites I checked in the afternoon. With Smackdown and ECW on TNN, I could easily watch over ten hours of wrestling a week, flipping back and forth between RAW and Nitro, and Thunder and Smackdown. Jonesing for another live fix, I dragged my roommate and another friend to an ECW house show in Fall River, MA. Seeing another opportunity to stroke my ego and see my name in print, I did a quick write-up, which CRZ was again willing to publish.
Having had my articles (and letters) printed in [slash] gave me the courage to write CRZ and ask him what was up with Sunday Night Heat (or SuNDAY NiGHT HeAT, if you will). A staple of my TV wrestling diet had been turned into a clip/features show while the WWF rolled out Smackdown. Most were annoyed by the lack of wrestling, but I enjoyed the behind-the-scenes out-of-character interviews for some of the WWF's highlight matches. CRZ had stopped recapping the show, both because of the new format and his Smackdown duties, so when actual matches started showing up again, I saw my opportunity.
Could I be a wrestling recapper?
CRZ gave me the go and I gave it a good solid try. I quickly learned that doing a full blow-by-blow takes a lot more time than I expected. I give CRZ and other recappers a hell of a lot of credit -- if you're not really REALLY quick, pausing to count all those punches can get really tough!
It was with a little bit of pride that I saw my byline go from freelance to [slash] wrestling on my February 13 report, a show which featured the return of the Light Heavyweight Championship. This was also the report that CRZ referred to when he said I was right about the "Monsters of Rap" album. I could now tell my friends and family that my name had been mentioned on a (sort-of-affiliated-with) CBS website!
I was a regular.
Now, a year after [slash] opened its doors, and 15 months after my return to wrestling fandom, I can without shame say to the world: I am a wrestling fan. Not only am I a fan, I am a fan who writes for a wrestling website. And you know what? I'm happy, and proud to be doing it. The show I've been recapping has gone for a exercise in curtain-jerking and jobberitis to a full-featured program where we recently saw the WWF Champion take on an opponent in a seven and a half minute match. By this time next year, I hear it'll be running on MTV.
Thanks to CRZ for running this site, the best damned wrestling opinion website on the net. Thanks to CyanIndigo and Michaelangelo, my (currently) fellow New Englanders, for their email support. But more importantly thanks to you all for coming here and reading the reports and columns.
Here's to another year of swerves and speculation, champions and jobbers, news and gossip, workrate and crash TV! Here's to another year of [slash] wrestling!
THaT GuY WHaT ReCAPZ HeAT