I remember when I was a little boy, alone in a hospital room, recovering from spinal surgery for my cerebral palsy. I watched wrestling to live vicariously through Hulk Hogan and “Macho Man” Randy Savage not because I enjoyed men in stretchy pants pretending to hurt each other; trust me, I don’t enjoy the violence of it. I watched because Hogan and Savage and all of the rest of them were larger than life, almost super-heroic, as they beat the villains. It gave me the inner strength needed to rehab for four months just to go back to kindergarten.
This Sunday, millions of people, either through their own money, or a friend’s wallet, or at a bar, or even on the internet, will be watching WrestleMania XXVIII (that’s 28, but WWE almost always uses Roman Numerals, and I like it; it makes it sound classy.)
No matter how they see it, there will be people who will watch the show and say they liked certain parts and didn’t like others. That’s fine, I probably will too. But for once, can all of us who are fans just remember what it is to be a fan, and not worry about what spectacular moves or mistakes are made by the wrestlers on the show?
By the same token, should we really be praising CM Punk and Chris Jericho, or Triple H and The Undertaker, four men who are expected to have the greatest matches of all time, before we see the actual matches? I’m not saying they don’t deserve respect; they’ve had mine for years – but before we use “star ratings” to grade the matches, let’s just watch them as fans and enjoy the show for what it is – entertainment.
Of course, the biggest match on the show is the “Once In A Lifetime, Never Before, Never Again” match between John Cena and The Rock. I, and many others, could tell you who we think is going to win and why, but here’s a thought: whether the match is remembered years from now as being one of the best or not, can we just enjoy watching it, chanting along with the TV, either shouting “Lets Go Cena” or “Cena Sucks” or “Rocky, Rocky, Rocky”?
I don’t understand why all of us, including me sometimes, have to be “armchair quarterbacks” (or “fantasy bookers”, to use wrestling terminology) for everything we see in the entire genre, but especially at WrestleMania. Some matches will live up to what many people’s expectations are, some may not, but I think the sheer dedication of every performer in that locker room should at least be appreciated this weekend, not to mention at the other shows going on from Ring of Honor and other companies.
For the record, one thing I keep seeing on my Twitter and Facebook feeds from wrestling fans is how every male in the audience is going to take a bathroom break during the woman’s match or the match involving the general managers of WWE’s Raw and Smackdown TV shows, John Laurinaitis and Teddy Long. If you’re a wrestling fan, even casually, it’s your prerogative to go take a breather whenever you need to, the show is four hours long. But I actually intend on enjoying those matches just as much, if not more than the ones with the most “hype” (HHH / Undertaker, Rock / Cena and Jericho / CM Punk.)
Why? Because every match doesn’t need to blow me away visually or physically. We need to have the divas match and two old guys (Johnny and Teddy) fighting to break up the intense emotions most fans will be feeling. As a matter of fact, I hope Brodus Clay comes out and dances like a dinosaur like he has been the last few months. I hope there are some lighter moments. We’ll need them after screaming our lungs out at the television.
This weekend, go ahead and voice your opinions, before, during and after the show. Just remember, the men and women on the show are taking tremendous physical risks, rolling, slamming, falling and smacking each other as trained performers, to entertain you so that whatever your problems are in life, you can forget about them, if only for a few hours. At least be grateful for that kind of physical sacrifice on their part, and then go ahead and tell everyone what was great and what wasn’t.
Happy WrestleMania Weekend, “WWE Universe.”