If you’re like me; young enough to get drunk on a Tuesday but old enough to report to work on Wednesday, then no doubt you were a fan of wrestling in the late 90s; particularly the WWF (I know it's the WWE now, but it'll always be the WWF to me). Wrestling’s popularity soared in the eve of new millennium and superstars like the Rock, Mankind and Triple H are emblazoned in my reminiscence as childhood heroes- Sorry, Dad. When I meet a bro for the first time, I make sure he gives me three things:
1. Eye contact
2. A firm handshake
3. A properly executed Stone Cold Stunner.
However, like most memories from the past, I tend to romanticize wrestling a bit. Even as a 10-year-old, I knew the storylines were suspect. Wrestlers flopped so hard it could make LeBron proud. But recently I watched some YouTube clips from the Attitude era, and they’re downright ridiculous. As I result, I present to you, the 6 things I'll always love about professional wrestling.
6. The In-Ring Segment
Vince McMahon once said the WWF is like a soap opera. Here is an excerpt from a typical in-ring segment:
Triple H is addressing the crowd, mic in hand.
Triple H: And that…is why…I…am…the…WWF…Champion!
Crowd Erupts. Enter Vince McMahon from backstage.
Vince: Wait just a minute!
Triple H’s mouth drops and eyes widen in an exaggerated fashion.
Vince: Last Monday on RAW, which you no doubt recall, you said you’d take on all challengers, which is why, tonight, in this very ring, shortly after a commercial break from our sponsor Castrol GTX- the Superior Choice in Motor Oil Protection; you will face………….Stone Cold Steve Austin!
Crowd Erupts again. Triple H’s mouth drops and eyes widen in an exaggerated fashion once more. Enter Stone Cold.
I think Vince owes soap operas an apology.
5. The Manager
Here is one facet of professional wrestling I never fully grasped. Typically a manager guides the professional career of their client; overseeing business affairs and providing counsel. A manager’s role in a fictional sport with predetermined outcomes always seemed a bit superfluous. I like to imagine the backstage conversations that went on between the manager (or “valet”, or “enforcer”) and his budding protégé:
Paul Bearer: I booked the suite at the Courtyard Marriot in Duluth, had your tights dry-cleaned; no starch of course, and landed you a gig interfering in the Casket Match at Summerslam, anything else?
Paul Bearer: Great! Now get out there and knock ‘em dead!
Of course, in the world of wrestling, there is one role slightly more absurd.
4. The Ref
I think wrestling needed to seriously re-think it’s hiring policies. It seems as if every referee is plagued with severe ailments that seriously hinder their ability to officiate a match. First off, there is a staggering trend of ADHD. A simple taunt from the aforementioned manager sends the ref rushing over to remedy the situation. You know how this ends buddy; while you’re trying to maintain order, someone is gonna sneak in a steel chair! Focus! Let’s not forget the omnipresent glass jaw. One accidental elbow to the face and Earl Hebner would be unconscious for the remainder of the Pay-per-view. I know there are job-discrimination laws in place but these guys were the worst.
3. The Entrance Theme
I don’t know the lyrics to any song by Bob Dylan, The Beatles or The Rolling Stones. But I’ll be damned if I ever forget one note of Shawn Michaels’ entrance theme. Wrestlers’ theme songs were just as much a mainstay in my CD case as Limp Bizkit. Next time I have sex with my girlfriend, I’m cueing up the DX anthem. The Entrance Theme was a musical exploration into the soul of the superstar. For instance, Mark Henry sent shivers down his opponents’ spines with the dulcet tones of “Sexual Chocolate”. Chyna asserted her ambiguous gender with her theme song “My Gender is Ambiguous”. Sex aside, some were truly awesome. It’s stipulated in my will that my casket is to be wheeled out to the Undertaker’s theme. Oh, and this one was great, too.
2. The Gimmicky Match
Hell in a Cell Match, Empty Arena Match, Ladder Match, Strip Match, NO DQ Match, First Blood Match, Boiler Room Brawl Match, Parking Lot Panic Match, Retirement Home Match in Which Old People Sit and Watch and Wonder If What They’re Seeing In Front Of Them Match Is Actually Happening Match.
And people thought pro wrestling was just body slams against the ropes. My favorite contests were the ones that you knew could never be upheld; like the done-to-death “Retirement Match”. This stuff simply doesn’t happen in other industries.
“So Kevin, what brings you to Goldman Sachs?”
“Well Jeff, as a result of the Loser Sells His Preferred Stock Options Match we had in the break room of Cantor Fitzgerald, I thought it was the move for me”.
1. The Commentators
Mike Breen and Walt Frazier don’t have sh*t on good ol’ JR and the King. The constant bickering, the unabashed favoritism, the outfits! Whether it was Ross’ Bell’s palsy-induced pronunciation of “slobberknocker” or Lawler’s unquenchable desire to see “puppies”, I could never grow tired of these two. But they are a merely one team of an endless supply of pseudo-professionals. I’d love to a call a match. Start off by rattling the credentials of the grapplers. Move on to some play-by-play descriptions of open-fisted punches and soft-impact holds. Cap it off with a healthy dose of rhetorical pandering; “Can this get any better?!. Before you know it, the day’s work is over. Because someone just got power bombed through your announcing table.
It’s obsessive reminiscing like this that stops me from being a functional member of society.
(Editor's Note: How Wrestling Buddies failed to make this list is beyond the capabilities of human comprehension.)
Krum is a New York City based comedian and you can follow him on Twitter @krumlifedotcom