Time for a jaunt into lost youth, entertainment, and the world of professional wrestling. Kidding? Nope, I'm serious. While yes, it's scripted, it's still brings countless hours of joy to young kids, and the inner child of adult men across the country. Like most men of my generation, I started watching pro wrestling back in the 80's. The days of NWA, WWF (now called WWE), neon, flash, over the top characters, and REALLY BAD HAIR.And while this form of sports entertainment changes with every generation, there's a question on the lips of every mark out there. Who's your favorite wrestler?
For me, I've always been a black sheep with a lot of things. This area is really no different. Over the years, the average fan will utter the names of Flair, Hogan, the Rock, and occasionally Bret Hart, or Sting. While those men have made their mark and earned their way, the names I always wanted to watch were different. Piper, DDP, and Austin. Ok, not that different, but lets take a look at them.
The 80's were great. I started watching, and cheering like other boys. For me though, I could have given a rats booty about Hulk Hogan. While everyone else was Hulking up, I was excited to see Rowdy Roddy Piper. The man was a maniac. Hardcore, before hardcore was a thing. While most people were saying holy cow, I was saying PIPER, PIPER, PIPER! The 90's came around, and it got better. Hogan was starting to show his age, fans were starting to see him for who he always has been. A weak wrestler that could cut a great promo. So when Piper crossed over into WCW and was working a feud with him, it was a weird good time. I went from cheering for the bad guy, to cheering for the good guy because both men switched places.
But the 90's were a turbulent time for wrestling. The pomp and circumstance was no longer the status quo, as balls and attitude were the new demand. And while Piper will always be my first favorite, I was still cheering for the dark side. Enter Diamond Dallas Page. A bad guy with style. And he was just getting better and better. The best part, his finisher the Diamond Cutter can and would come out of nowhere. But there was something interesting that really pulled me in. In a short span of a few years of actually wrestling, everyone was cheering for the bad guy instead of the good guy. It wasn't because he was being bad, instead, it was because he was standing his ground and telling the good guys, and the bad guys where to stick it. He did what he wanted on his terms. It wasn't over the top, it wasn't flashy, it seemed somewhat real and could be related to by anyone. He was essentially opening up to take on the entire roster. It was incredible.
But DDP wasn't alone in this. Stone Cold Steve Austin entered his own here too. He had been fun to watch in the past, but this character was him. He turned on his handler, he gave the finger to everyone, and essentially was doing the same thing as DDP but in a different way. While DDP was the self made man doing what was best for him, Austin was essentially saying, "You're not the boss of me!" It was something that everyone from the adolescent to the working man could find. So seeing what the two of these men would do next was almost always a gamble. Unlike what Piper was doing, and the rest of the previous generation of wrestlers, it was no longer the predictable good versus evil. It was now a game of who could hit harder.
These days wrestling can still be fun. But it's not the same. It's a different generation, relating to a different audience. Sadly, some wrestlers haven't realized that 30 plus years is too much and haven't retired from full time involvement, while others occasionally show up as a blast from the past. But it's not a weekly venture for me any more. It's an on/off relationship that I come back to every couple months. The torch has been passed. And with all the change, not everything is different. Much like real sports, it's something that old fans and new fans alike can sit down and talk about.