Hulk Hogan. ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage. Andre the Giant. Ultimate Warrior. Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts. ‘Ravishing’ Rick Rude. The Undertaker. Mr. Perfect.
Do those names look familiar? If not, I am sincerely sorry. If so, you had an amazing childhood – gold star unlocked.
Either way, at Renaissance Nerd we will introduce (or reintroduce) you to the nuances of professional wrestling. This will encompass a historical perspective of wrestling as I knew it as a child with the names above, to the Monday Night Wars feature WCW and NWO, to the Ruthless Aggression era, to today’s wrestling.
“Pat, but professional wrestling is fake.” Sure, Professional wrestling is predetermined; however, it is most definitely not fake. Just ask Mick Foley how he felt after the Undertaker threw him off the Hell in Cell. Predetermined, yeah. Fake, hell no.
Pat – we need you to fall from the cage. F*ck it, I’m out.
This brings it back to myself, and professional wrestling – why do I enjoy it so much? The answer is simple, but innocent. Of all the pleasures I enjoy, few connect me to my childhood. Aside from the Baltimore Orioles, the one constant has and always will be professional wrestling. I can, from memory, tell you the context of the time frame of where I was when random events occurred in the WWF. Most importantly, I remember the first time I watched a Pay Per View, and I remember like it was yesterday. The 1994 Royal Rumble.
“Don’t you ask your Grandmother if you can get that wrestling shit!”
I was told this as I was being dropped off at my grandmother’s house. (30 minutes later)
“Bubbie (my grandmother is Jewish)…(all sheepish like a 9 year old would ask), can I, I mean, can we order the Royal Rumble? I was told not to ask you…”
Sure as shit – she ordered it. Something along the lines she was going to do whatever she damn well pleased. Anyways….THIS WAS IT! The 30 man over the top battle royal where the winner would go on to WRESTLEMANIA for a shot at the title. Undertaker was facing Yokozuna (a morbidly obese Samoan who portrayed a sumo wrestler…WWF is not racially sensitive) in a CASKET MATCH for the WWF title. Somehow this sumo wrestler was wearing the same strap that Hulk Hogan used to wear so clearly this sumo wrestler was as good as Hulk Hogan (according to kayfabe).
Well, the Undertaker was all ready to win and defeat the obese sumo wrestler until Mr. Fuji contracted 4098 wrestlers to prevent the Undertaker from winning the casket match. Complete, and utter bull shit. Then…the Undertaker ascended into the heavens (see below) and gave me nightmares for a solid week. Hell, most likely until I was at least 24.
Nightmare inducing video – watch at your own risk
Then it was time for the MAIN EVENT – the ROYAL RUMBLE. I must have watched this match at least 93 times in the weeks which followed. Hell, it is predetermined AND I knew who was going to win, but I would watch anyways. Big Daddy Cool Diesel would go on to eliminate about 18 guys and kick the shit out of these two dudes in cowboy boots and tight Wrangler jeans (The Smoking Gunns — get it? [sigh]). But the big question on everyone’s mind – would Bret Hart (my favorite) return after injuring his knee earlier in the night in a Tag Team Match. Owen (Bret’ brother) kicked his leg under his leg. Got that? Damnit Owen, you ruined it.
Owen Hart articulating kicking a leg under a leg? I’m still confused.
Well, somehow some dude named Lex Luger who bored me to tears came out with his titanium plated bicep draped in red, white, and blue and would spoil the party. He’d go on a tear and eliminate nearly everyone until my man Bret Hart hobbled down to the ring. He must have taken some Aleve or a few Tylenol – something, but here he was! And then it happened. Bret and Lex tangled up, and went over the ropes…and boom both of their feet hit the floor. At. The. Same. Time. Co-winners. I was 9, confused, and pissed. How could this guy cost Bret the opportunity to wrestle Yokozuna and his 23409 friends at Wrestlemania?
Oh well, I was hooked. I was hooked prior to watching the Royal Rumble, but I sure as hell was hooked afterwards.
The 2017 Royal Rumble is in a few weeks, and there is one thing I know – Lex Luger better not come out and mess up this one for anybody.