Real recognize real


The first WrestleMania I remember watching was the sixth one, when Hulk Hogan defended his title against the Ultimate Warrior. I was a bit late to the party; my friends had all been fans for several years at that point, but I didn’t take to any sport – including ostensibly fake ones – until about fifth grade.

I never even considered asking my parents if I could order WrestleMania VI. The way pay-per-view used to be, they’d scramble the visual, but you could still hear everything. (The Playboy Channel and such were the same way, but for at least a couple more years, I was far more interested in peering at scrambled wrestling matches.) So I sat there for four hours, trying to make out glimpses of the action while I re-enacted it with my action figures.

The G.O.A.T. WrestleMania match

Miraculously, something went wrong with their scrambling software or whatever, and the picture flickered on right before Hulk Hogan fought the Ultimate Warrior. It was like seeing a glimpse of heaven. I very gingerly walked around the den lest I trip or something and jolt the television back to its previous scrambled state.

The Hulk Hogan-Ultimate Warrior match was incredible. It was 22 minutes but seemed like an hour, since it was twice as long as any other match on the card. I was a huge Hulk Hogan fan, and I howled to the moon that life wasn’t fair when Hogan pinned the Warrior with the referee inconveniently unconscious and unable to make the count. When the Warrior defeated the previously indomitable Hogan, I actually cried. My friends had begun to speculate at that point that wrestling was scripted, and I guess I kind of knew that, but it just seemed so real to me, dammit!

The following year, my parents – having come to grips that my wrestling fandom was more than just a flight of fancy – allowed me to order WrestleMania VII and invite a whole bunch of my sixth grade buddies over. That was a social event we reprised for four years until one of my friends got one of those cable descramblers, and we looked forward to it for months. That first WrestleMania party, in particular, is still a thing of legend.

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Wrestling with shadows: Rumble trip beautifully illustrates passage of time

You think you know me

I know it’s fake. I know I’m 30.

But standing with my friends in section 110 at Phillips Arena in Atlanta last Sunday, when his music hit and Edge made his surprise return at the Royal Rumble, I couldn’t help myself; I cheered my head off, flossed in my Edge shirt and gave high-fives to little kids.

And that’s the thing I still marvel at. It makes no sense that after all these years, through all the changes in my life, professional wrestling is still something I enjoy. And yet there I was.

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