Wednesday, April 09, 2014

M Is for Muscles

The first thing I saw on my newsfeed when I got on the computer this morning was that the Ultimate Warrior had died.

When I was a kid, I loved wrestling. For kids of my generation, it was kind of like live action superheroes. I got into the then-WWF back in '85, I think, when Hulk Hogan's Rock 'n' Wrestling was airing as a Saturday morning cartoon. Wrestling was one of those things my sister and I used to watch with our Dad on Sunday afternoon television (when we weren't watching kung fu movies, Godzilla flicks, or the Three Stooges). It was just a lot of fun, and I watched it every week and watched old Wrestlemania tapes. For a while, I wanted to be a wrestler. But as an adult, I went in whatever the opposite direction of bodybuilding was.

It's interesting thinking of how incredibly popular the WWE is now... when I was a kid, openly liking wrestling was so uncool. If someone found out you were a wrestling fan, you would just be teased mercilessly. And if you went to go see it live, which I did once, that was something to get ripped for, too. I admit, to this day there's still part of me that gets a little miffed seeing the things I once loved get so openly popular and "cool" now, just because of what I had to go through. But, you know... can't change the past.

My favorite wrestler was "Macho Man" Randy Savage. The Ultimate Warrior came into the WWF in 1987, and was sort of emblematic of the new "extreme" route entertainment for boys was going. I mean, look at him: he's like the inspiration for a dozen Rob Liefeld characters. In fact, he's always been emblematic for me personally of the time my interest in wrestling started to wane. Nothing against him; I dug the Ultimate Warrior and his crazy speeches and his intense eyes and that animal-like way he'd violently shake the ropes to get himself all pumped up. It was definitely something new and exciting for a kid who was so into wrestling. But by that time, I was getting into high school and getting less interested and just didn't watch it so much anymore. I watched him win the title in 1990 in Wrestlemania VI. I think the last time I saw him was that match in Wrestlemania VIII where he rushed in to aid Hulk Hogan.

I guess the Ultimate Warrior--who I think of as the wrestling superstar of the 90s, although I guess by the time I stopped watching it I was already seeing the Undertaker get his start--hadn't been doing much wrestling at all. He appeared in makeup two nights ago to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, and died last night at age 54 after collapsing in a parking lot.

It made me sad to see him go so suddenly and out of nowhere, especially after such a long absence. And it also made me wistful for a certain time in my life that certainly had its share of ups, but also more than its share of downs. It's a time I'm getting further and further removed from. I wonder if I'll ever get used to it.

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4 comments:

Leslie: said...

Interesting post. When I was a teenager, my 2 best friends were into wrestling and I didn't "get" it. Even now, I think it's just really a spectator sport. We watched a documentary about a group of wrestlers who travelled the country and saw how they planned their moves and decided who would win when, etc. It was kind of interesting to watch and to watch the people who came out to root for them all. I think I prefer watching tennis, hockey, soccer, and baseball. But to each his own. Have a marvelous week!

Leslie
abcw team

Reader Wil said...

My children used to do judo, which my husband and I often watched when they had to do competitions.
Thanks for your post!
Thanks also for your visit.
Wil, ABCW Team.

Roger Owen Green said...

I never "got" wrestling. Didn't bother me. It was one of those Saturday afternoon filler programs like roller derby in the 1960s.

Maybe it was because my grandfather considered boxing "real" - I used to know a LOT about the heavyweight champs from John L. Sullivan to Ali - and wrestling was "phony".

SamuraiFrog said...

That's what other kids used to seize on; wrestling wasn't "real," so people who like it must be too stupid to know it. Nowadays it seems like people younger than me know it's scripted/acted but enjoy it anyway, so good for them. They dropped the pretense that it had to be an actual sport.

My grandma used to call it "wrasslin'" and tell me that wrestling was real and wrasslin' was just entertainment. I kind of like that.

In the 80s we didn't have roller derby here in Chicagoland, but we would see it on TV whenever we went to Iowa to visit family.