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Thread: Layers Of Love (Series)

  1. #1
    Broken Kleck Kleckamania's Avatar
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    Layers Of Love (Series)

    Layers Of Love



    Day 1: When You Fall In Love






















    To say love is odd is the understatement of the century. Any century, really. Thereís very little rhyme or reason at times- we think we know what weíre looking for, what will suit or tailor to us, and we will be proven how much of a bunch of fools we are, over and over again.


    My first real love, aside from a girl in my kindergarten class named Brandy, hit me about a week after my fifth birthday. It was 31 years ago last week- February 7th, 1987. Well give or take a day. Regardless, I found love in the weirdest fucking place ever- professional wrestling.


    A young Rowdy Roddy Piper was hosting his show, The Piperís Pit, and out came Hulk Hogan. To my 5 year old eyes he looked like some kind of mega super hero- the highest order of hero- like He-Man, or the Thundercats. Probably the same exact way my near five year old son looks at the Power Rangers- in just absolute fucking awe. My senses were tingling like Spider-Man, or Roddy Piper, at a coke house.


    Hulkís arms looked like they were about as big as me, and his mane of golden hair, outrageous golden mustache, and gold and red outfit just emphasized the super hero, master of the Universe vibe. He was real life He-Man. Massive, hulking and ready to leg drop every single kids heart at the time. And I was down for the count.


    As if that wasnít enough, as I marvelled at Hulk, then the truly big guy came on to the set- Andre The Giant. You see, I was already pretty stunned by the size of Hulk, but Andre was so freaking massive that he makes Shaq look like Danny Devito in comparison.












    I watched with bated breath, leaning forward, pupils dilated, as Hogan pleaded with Andre. ďSay it isnít true, Andre. Why are you here with Bobby?Ē As Bobby Heenan leered behind Andre. Hogan talked about how he looked up to Andre, how Andre was the pillar of good guy goodness. He always did the right thing. But the weasel, Bobby Heenan, had been doing what he did best- stirring shit up. Extremely massive Andre now felt insulted by his once friend Hogan thanks to Heenanís twisted words, and Andre now wanted a world title opportunity at Wrestlemania 3. And then he ripped Hoganís chain off. Hogan oversold the shit out of it looking back now, but in the moment...




    My.mind.set.on.fireÖ




    Hogan was larger than life, but Andre?!? Andre?!?!?! He was the size of a phone booth! And they were going to fight- a super he-man ultra mega good guy against pretty much an evil human semi-truck? And it was something I could watch?!?


    You gotta realize this moment in wrestling history is why modern wrestling exists. That Piperís Pit set the stage for the single biggest landmark in WWF history. Wrestlemania 3 put them so far on the map that it literally finally put to death an entire period of history in professional wrestling- the Territory days. They were gone because of this Piperís Pit feud set up. It was established that WWF was THE wrestling source. This moment didnít just hook in kids like young Kleck everywhere, it was the talk of the entertainment world. Adults talked about it like they talk about Game Of Thrones today. It was that big of a deal. Only bigger, because there was less entertainment competition back then compared to now, so it was like if Game Of Thrones, Walking Dead, and MMA all morphed together into some fantastical ultra spectacle and consumed the world. So to a young kid, like Kleck, it was the end all be all of everything.


    Wrestling was still Ďrealí. Vince didnít acknowledge to it being Ďfakeí, or choreographed until 1989, and even then word didnít spread to most of us until a few years after that, so Wrestling in 1987- Andre versus Hogan in 1987, was the single biggest match in the world, on the card of the single biggest sporting event of the entire year. Imagine that. And let me fill you in on a little secret, boys of all ages dig violence. It wasnít just me falling in love hopelessly, it was most of the world.


    This meant, Iím the last generation of fan who didnít have a world shitting on wrestling, or me for liking it. Nobody to make me feel bad about liking, or even loving it. On the contrary, most people loved it right alongside me then. It was a time when not only was being a fan acceptable, it was actually mainstream, hip, and cool to be a fan. It was a warm, cozy time to love wrestling. A kid first falling in love could only fall deeper and deeper. And that Wrestlemania just released all my endorphins.


    The day Hogan slammed Andre- something most people said was impossible for a human to do, and I was five so I bought all of that fully- that day, that match, was like a first kiss. Watching it felt like I was floating. When Hogan finally hoisted Andre up after struggling throughout the match, that moment was about when my heart burst. The crazed chaos that is love seeped into my little body and I was done for. I watched that card on VHS so many times. Violence, heroic feats of strength, super heroes, monstrously big people. I was so in over my head.


    So much so that shortly after the match, I got into the Hogan cartoon which I watched religiously as well. Hogan and his wrestle pals like Hillbilly Jim, Junkyard Dog, Jimmy Snukka, and Tito Santana fought the bad guys. Little Kleck didnít know that the ďgood guysĒ like Snukka were actually smashing mistresses faces into a hotel wall repeatedly, and running up and down hotel hallways nude, fighting cops in the real world, or Hogan sleeping with any woman not known as his wife at the time. It was also a pretty lame cartoon, but again, as a kid, and especially a kid in love, I was blinded, and it was must see tv.


    On the road to that Wrestlemania, and the subsequent first couple years, I constantly needed wrestling more. More shows, more days, more vhs tapes, more magazines, more toys. More. I was daydreaming about it, losing sleep over it, crashing my rubber action figures off the top furniture, having battle royales- I was sooo in love. Head over velcro transformer Optimus Prime sneakers in love.


    I was so into wrestling, and by extension, Hogan, that I often tried ripping a bunch of my shirts, so the necks were all screwy. My parents did not love that. I said my prayers, ate my Flintstones assortable vitamins, and ran around the neighborhood shaking my head and finger vigorously with wild eyes. I was perpetually hulking up, and falling in love not just with Hogan, but with all professional wrestling had to offer.


    I would bark, growl, and howl when Junkyard Dog came to the ring, ohh and aww when the Rockers wrestled, flapped my arms when Koko Beware showed up for a match, and watched like I was dumbstruck whenever the Texas Tornado wrestled a match. It wasnít just Hulk, I loved all of it. And if you go back to watch that stuff now it is ludicrously silly, but in those moments of love, the new love days, they could do zero wrong. Love had me completely blinded. Wrestling was the greatest thing ever.


    Did I notice Hogan was a balding, overly aggressive dude being hyped as the ultimate good guy, on a show that glorified violence and racism? Of course not! I was a kid, and in love- and love makes fools of us all. And I was their target fool right through about 1993- 6 years. Oddly about as much time as the average band sticks together, and how long the average relationship lasts.


    Up to that point I watched Hogan fight off Macho Man, Sgt. Slaughter, Earthquake, Ric Flair, Psycho Sid, and even find his mortality through a rookie Deadman. I cried when he lost to Ultimate Warrior- it was beyond real to a young Kleck fully in love. I felt that one for months. It still stings when I think about it. Love scars are no joke.


    I went from hating some guys to loving them (Macho Man), I went from loving some guys to hating them (Shawn Michaels, AKA, the Judas that ruined the Rockers), but through it all, my love for professional wrestling seemed unwavering.


    In the moment, it was bliss. And even looking back it brings this warm, fuzzy, nostalgic feeling when I tap back into that period of my fandom. Little did young Kleck know though, that love isnít all sunshine and big boots, and that new love feeling never lasts forever.










    Eventually, the blinders come offÖ

  2. #2
    I'm a few years older than you, but it looks like we got into wrestling at a similar time! Was it actually possible for someone's favourite wrestler to be anyone except Hogan in those days?

  3. #3
    It is pretty neat how we can go through this with them. Almost feel like wrestling raised me. Love this series

  4. #4
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    Long past the first love phase of my wrestling fandom at this time. My first wrestling love was the Von Erich family. But I was never a Hulk Hogan fan. I was 33 that summer so maybe it was the age but Ric Flair was always far and above Hogan in my eyes. Just like some have stated that Sting was misused in WWE I feel that Flair was misused in his feuds with Hogan. They came much later than 1987 but I still feel Flair should have been booked to be an equal to Hogan. Both carried their respective companies for so long. They were like opposite poles in a magnetic field. The all American hero and the ultimate bad guy (Limosine riding, jet flying, kiss stealing, wheeling and dealing, Son of a Gun!) should have had a long and storied feud when the two were finally in the same federation. And the wins and losses should have been a near tie in the record book.

    My love of wrestling has its ebbs and flows. But the rebirth of Impact is helping with a rise in the love now. Bray Wyatt, Dean Ambrose, Natalya and Alexa Bliss all have contributed to my fandom in the last few years. But the way the WWE sees them has broken my heart. Except for Alexa it sometimes seems they do not know what they have. Eli Drake is also helping the temperature rise in my love for wrestling at this time.

  5. #5
    The Brain
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    This combines two of my favorite things, memories of getting into wrestling and the build up to 'Mania III, which is one of the greatest builds of all time (a fact many gloss over). I could nitpick the idea that the event was the thing that killed the territories, but it's true in spirit, even if a bit simplified. It's amazing to think how much wrestling was THE thing at this time. I wasn't even born at the time so I can't claim to share it firsthand, but I was keyed in to the mega-fads which immediately followed it, specifically Ninja Turtles and then Power Rangers after that, so I fully understand that feeling of being a kid and your world revolving around these larger than life characters.

    I think it's not only ok, but great to have love for wrestling like this. Do some of these people have a dark side in real life? Of course, but that doesn't mean stuff like this loses meaning to us. You love the characters, the stories, the entertainment. To me, that's a great thing still. But as you said in your last feedback, it's about being able to draw that line, and that's different for everyone. Liked this a lot Kleck, looking forward to the next and really hoping this series doesn't end with you saying goodbye...

  6. #6
    Member 205 Clive's Avatar
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    I'm not sure if wrestling is my favourite medium when it comes to entertainment, but there is something much more awe inspiring in wrestlers than actors, musicians etc? Might just be me. But apart from a few gods of their chosen field, like Freddy Mercury for instance, wrestlers are larger than life. They appeal to the core emotions of people.

    Like the idea of the column. Nice to read a column where someone is so unashamedly taken with wrestling.
    Follow me on Twitter and Facebook @rickyandclive, or listen to "The Ricky & Clive Wrestling Show", part of the Social Suplex Podcast Network

  7. #7
    Broken Kleck Kleckamania's Avatar
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    Dynamite- I know of a few who didnt, but Hogan was tailor made for kids, so it was nigh impossible not to be mesmerized by him back then!


    Type- Thanks man! Hopefully you enjoy the rest.

    Von- It was definitely the different age demographics, as the adult generation loved Ric then. You touch on things I know Im gonna write about in this series, so in short I appreciate this response, and know exactly how you are feeling in regards to current product!

    Miz- It looks that way doesnt it? Though there will be some twists and turns I suspect. Im kind of experiencing this daily as you guys are, so the direction isnt even 100% to me. I will say I am currently wrestling with how the past played out, mostly behind the scenes though. I hope you like the rest.



    Clive- This is definitely an unfiltered fan experience. I didnt want to sugar coat anything. This is as raw as it will get. Thanks!







    Layers Of Love
    Day 2: This Love








    Saying the blinders came off of my love for Professional Wrestling is, at best, no selling it. Most people, when they are experienced with that first true roadblock on the path of love it is a slight set back- a minor thing that kind of disrupts the harmony your heart and soul are experiencing. Kind of like a bucket of ice water being dumped on you- in the moment it is shocking, it takes you out of your groove, and distracts your focus. It kinda sucks, but often your love is still so strong, so it just shrugs that shit off and continues on down that blind highway like nothing ever happened, as the problem just grows smaller in your rearview.


    I didnít have that luxury with professional wrestling. At all. My first real fight, my first moment of utter and complete disappointment came at a time when I was still a kid. I still kinda secretly believed Santa was real- despite what all the kids at school were saying. I was still mostly pure, aside from that one night I was watching Ginger on Gilliganís Island reruns and had a surprising accident. My heart was still untainted.






    Whoops! Young Kleck unexpectedly found his love for redheads...





    And then in one night it all came crashing down. The news broke in 1993, I canít remember exactly when, but then WWF was in a major scandal on TV, and in the newspapers, and it was much bigger than Vince could sweep under a rug this time- the news broke that Vince McMahon and WWF wrestlers, my heroes, were just about all taking steroids. The despair! A cheat code to super powers! And not just that, but in one fell swoop that controversy also brought out to me that professional wrestling was ďfakeĒ.


    All in one shot, like a swift chair smash to the face, I discovered seemingly all of my loves deepest, darkest secrets- and it honestly ended a big part of my childhood. The steroid part was bad, mainly because of my dadís influence. You see my dad has always been a huge sports nut. And in the world of professional sports, in his eyes, nothing is more damning than an athlete that juices. It tarnishes and ruins the sanctity of the game if you ask him. And I donít think it is a stretch to say most little boysí biggest influence in this world is their father. We watch them, we listen closely, we emulate them. So back then I know I felt shame for liking pro wrestlers from that point forward due to what I thought my dad must think.


    Then you add in the fact that a lot of people were just finding out pro wrestling was ďfakeĒ, as the steroid trial had a strong theme going through it of, Ďif it is not a real sport, why is steroid use such a big deal?í Young Kleck had his wtf face on through that whole ordeal. You see, we didnít have internet then. And cable was only a few years old in our house, which was the case in a lot of households, so after the mainstream buzz over pro wrestling died down a few years after Wrestlemania 3, you barely saw wrestling in any kind of news- at least for me as a kid that was certainly the case. So it wasnít until that trial that a lot of previous information started coming to light. Like how on February 10th, 1989, Vince admitted in an opening statement for a proposed Bill in front of the New Jersey State Senate that pro wrestling was staged. The bill passed, and it was spearheaded by Vince in order to pay all state Athletic Commissions less money when his show came to their respective towns.


    To an adult, this is sound, practical thinking. To a kid, itís like being told all adults have been lying to you your entire life, and up is actually down. Like I was the only one not in on the joke. I was stunned. I was embarrassed. I was heartbroken. I was ashamed to be a fan. I was angry. It was the first time I was mad at something I loved that I can recall, and the fact that I still loved it made me kinda pissed off. At that point in time I resented being in love. I hated loving something that lied to me, and tricked me. I still couldnít stop loving it quite yet though.


    I couldnít shake it, though the level of love I felt waned dramatically. By 1994 though, my anger grew into indifference. The thought that all these heroes of mine were frauds, and all were now being phased out for a new generation of guys that didnít ďtake steroidsĒ, or so we thought, was too overwhelming to keep my interest. Especially when one of the two rising stars out of the rubble was judas himself, Shawn Michaels. I still hated the guy over what he did to Marty, and though I didnít mind Bret Hart, and thought he was kinda cool, he was a laid back hero, and the WWF golden Era was filled with boisterous, loud wrestlers.


    Also, in one of the last moments of that new love phase, as a Hogan die hard fan back then, when Hogan took down Yokozuna at Wrestlemania- I was confused and amazed initially. Any kid watching was stunned, as I imagine most adults were. It was abrupt, but it made sense though. Yoko was built beautifully as the power foreign heel, and the only way that impromptu match worked was with him as champ and bullying Bret a bit- any other heel is not so confident that they offer a legend a title match. But Yoko was the guy erasing people with the Banzai Drop back then, so him being that confident character wise made total sense. He feared nothing, he was fear. And it made sense from Hoganís characters standpoint. He saw a bully and went to help. Regardless of what we think now, it worked on paper. And it also shows that Vince was ready to start fresh as soon as possible, and wash his hands of the Era I fell in love with.


    I will say though mixed with that initial excitement over Hoganís surprise victory, was sadness that Bret Hart didnít beat Yokozuna to begin with. That also made perfect sense to a young Kleck, as you couldnít really beat Yokoís power with power, you needed a technical approach, as Yoko was ultimate power. And Bret was ready. I may not have loved the guy then, but I definitely liked him. I definitely thoroughly enjoyed the Hart Foundation, and everything that came with it. As an adult today though, I have to admit something most people wonít like- for every bit Bret was a legend in the ring, Hogan was a legend in the charisma department- if not more.


    My point is a lot of technical fans would scoff at Hogan getting that shocking moment, but from a business standpoint it made some kind of sense. Hogan was still a big draw, and a lot of fans, to this day, still love the larger than life guys. Brett, as we saw, didnít move the needle when he was on top. Not a lot of fans like to admit that, but it is what it is. So what went wrong with Hogan coming back for one last brief run as champ? Hogan had become a bit of a jaded, jerky guy on cruise control.


    He didnít give a damn about the business at that point, and he just wanted a paycheck without the perceived negatives to tarnish him, which is evidenced by him not wrestling, or even showing up on tv until his rematch with Yokozuna. He was brought back in to finish up by putting over Bret to set the stage for the new breed, which he refused to do. So he was written to beat Yoko, and then written off tv until he would lose to Yoko at King Of The Ring. And after that, Vince understandably washed his hands of Hogan for years. Looking back now, a dedicated Hogan does the job, and it works beautifully in both selling Bret, and making Hogan still look strong in defeat, but we will never know if that would have changed anything. Maybe all Hogan did was delay the inevitable realization of Bret simply being in the wrong place, at the exact wrong time in wrestling history. If Vinceís plans went off without a hitch though, I wager most fans wouldnít look back on that main event with the level of disdain they hold for it now.


    Despite Bret having an amazing night at King Of The Ring in 1993, a lot of the changes were so drastic to the WWF product overall that I felt like I didnít know what I loved anymore. Vince was already making changes in preparation for the steroid bombshell inevitably dropping, and the product as it was, simply wasnít keeping my interest any longer. Hogan lost to Yoko and then vanished from WWF in a situation at the time that was honestly dumbfounding from a kids point of view. Larger guys were being phased out for guys that looked like people Iíd see just about anywhere, and the whole feel of the product changed. So even when things were restored to what was right, and Bret had his moment as King Of The Ring, and was anointed as the new top face, (or so I thought), at the very next PPV, Vince just strapped the rocket to another larger than life wrestler instead of Bret, and the Lex Luger experiment began.


    When you stop and look at that, it is very telling. Even with Hoganís ego out of the picture, Vince still was pushing another larger than life guy above Bret. Granted a lot of reports have said that Luger derailed his own train, which had set a course of winning the World Title at Wrestlemania X, resulting in Vince seemingly going with his second option, Bret Hart. It seemed Vince didnít have much faith in Bret either. At least not enough to go all in on him when he definitely should have.


    1993 Hogan was only there to pay for his wifeís spending habits. And Vince just undeniably has a beefcake fetish, but regardless- I look back and would have preferred Bret to win that match at Wrestlemania IX, and for Hogan to have just pissed off for awhile. To get all the Santa With Muscles kind of movies out of his system while Bret held the top title for a few years. And as for Lex Luger, he always sketched young Kleck out. I donít know what it was, but he made my skin crawl even back then.


    The steroid/fake wrestling wound was still too fresh for me in 1994, which might have been part of it, because even a small child didnít believe a human gets as jacked as Luger was through purely legal means. He was a painful reminder every time I saw him of all the changes going down. Add going back and finding out Hogan was part of this steroid scandal, and that was why he was out of WWF, and that tarnished professional wrestling significantly for me. Though I still had a soft spot for Hogan, I thought I could trust him as a young kid, along with a lot of other wrestlers I loved to watch. The whole thing affected me honestly until Hogan was no longer a face, which was years down the road. I just couldnít see him as a face anymore.


    I honestly didnít really find anywhere near as much interest in Hogan or wrestling in the time between then and the beginnings of the Monday night war. So much had happened that I just lost the better part of my heart for pro wrestling. As everyone else abandoned wrestling like a dumpster fire, my fandom at that point was hanging on by an absolute thread.


    With the extra time, pre-teen Kleck foundÖ. himself. In a time of life that as a parent, I dread so much when my boys hit that stage. The time of life when a parent really has to think long and hard about opening that door in front of them, and needs to not question why the socks are as stiff as Jake The Snakeís cocktail was back then. Like Big Mouth, I was in the throes of puberty, and the opposite sex started to occupy the places in my mind where pro wrestling once resided.


    Even when I watched wrestling then, I started noticing the women much, much more. When they ran old shows, or replayed old highlights I started to piece together why Miss Elizabeth always seemed to be one of my absolute favorite people alive, despite barely ever talking. I was paying attention to womenís matches when I never really used to. My focus was shifting drastically, and the steroid scandal/finding out pro wrestling was staged just accelerated what was an inevitability. Pure innocent Kleck was becoming a cesspool of sexuality, pimples, awkward voice cracks, and random hair growth.


    I liken 1994 to my first break up with pro wrestling. Even when Hogan surprise popped up in WCW to win over Ric Flair, my excitement was very short lived. I missed him, but immediately remembered that he had kind of betrayed so many kids like me. It was very real to us then, and finding out your heroes are just mere mortals is never an easy pill to swallow. And as I was starting puberty, and my angst was starting to bubble, my interest in the cardboard heroes was fading fast.


    So when the blinders came off, it almost completely killed professional wrestling for me, as it did for most of the people around me. It was no longer cool to like it, and in fact, it was the beginning of being teased over it. At an age where all you want to do is to fit in, that is a terrible thing, so I put my love for wrestling on the shelf, as my love for women ramped up. I suspect I was still the target demographic in that regard, as wrestling viewership fell off a cliff for a good few years across the board.


    I/the target demographic needed something different. We were going through changes. Vince McMahon and Ted Turner were about to deliver just that out of desperation. It took my first break up to get them there though, and a little attitude...







  8. #8
    This is a period I never saw until many years later. My WWF viewing was dictated by the availability of the right channels, which I only had during school holidays when I stayed at my Mum's. From leaving school in around 1990 until about 98/99ish I lost touch with wrestling completely. Although I now know a lot of the stories from the era I missed, and I know about the steroid controversy etc, I don't associate the two so this doesn't impact my fandom.

    Despite that, I can understand the confusion it must have caused in WWF fans at the time. All of a sudden finding out what you believed in was a lie? It must have been hard. By the time I got back to watching wrestling, I knew what I was seeing and still enjoyed it. I never had that period of confusion about what was going on and I never really saw the company transitioning between the two most successful eras, I only saw those two successful periods so my fandom may be a little sugar coated as a result?

  9. #9
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    I worked in the amusement park field most of my adult life. During this time I got to see musicians, magicians, comics, sports stars and other VIP's make their way through the facilities and entertain on stage, have meet and greets and some just enjoy the park like anyone else. As my life in the park field grew I got to go backstage at times and thus stumbled across some of the secrets behind the scenes. It is a little like those who saw the old television show with the masked magician exposing the secrets behind the curtain. Magic still holds an interest but it is different. Now I occasionally find myself looking to see how good the magician is at hiding the trick. The same with pro wrestling. Once Vince let the cat out of the bag the product became different. I can still watch and suspend disbelief. But it is harder to get the old feeling back. The steroid scandal had the same effect. The era I grew up in had wrestlers built more like Kevin Owens and Trevor Lee. So it was unusual to see a Hulk Hogan, Paul Orndorff and other muscular wrestlers when exposed to the promotion from the north. And this just confirmed my suspicions. One of my favorite tag teams of all times was The Midnight Express with Loverboy Denis Condry and Beautiful Bobby Eaton. Both were stout but not muscular or bodybuilding sculpted. That is another reason that I was taken aback when I was exposed to The Midnight Express in WCW. Sweet Stan Lane did not look the part as Denis had. He had more of that northern wrestler look.

    To follow the theme of this column, my love matured to accept the flaws in the one I loved. When I see good wrestling the original passion can return. But with the warts exposed it does not burn as intensely all the time. And some of the warts are like cold water. I hope my love of wrestling and my other hobbies will continue and grow. But I suspect the passion will only burn now and again since there always seems to be an Enzo Amore to expose the dark side. Or the booking of Bray Wyatt and so many others that I long to adore.

  10. #10
    The Brain
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    As a guy who never thought wrestling was real, this is an experience I can't share. The "secrets" of wrestling, such as they were, were revealed to me casually by my parents on the rare occasion when the subject came up. I didn't start watching religiously until I was a bit older as a result, and so I never had a moment of revelation or betrayal about the industry. It's always fascinating to me to read an account of someone who went through this, as it's so different than my own experience. This bit was probably a bit harder to write than the last one, but thanks for sharing it. I'm enjoying this journey a lot my friend.

    Oh, and it was Summerslam '93 that derailed Luger. Who books a guy to win by countout at one of the biggest shows of the year, then tells him to jump around like he just one the title? It was all botched from that moment on.

    Much love to my man Von for praising the Midnight Express, love those guys!

  11. #11
    Broken Kleck Kleckamania's Avatar
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    Dynamite- Definitely. Without that let down in the middle a lot of context was lost, though you were so much better off without that context, as just about all it did was kill off a lot of fandom for the sport. You got the best of it with none of the side effects. Thanks for reading!


    Von- such a great way to look at fandom after it was outed as choreographed, and a great comparison drawn between magic and pro wrestling. Looking into wrestling on that finer level is valuable to any long time fan. Without that attention to detail a lot of value is lost in translation. And I share your sentiments about tge new class of wrestler being booked poorly. Alexa is one of the top female wrestlers , her mic and character work are indeed throwbacks. Thanks for the feed!

    Miz- that Luger booking was atrocious! And this period of time was rough as a young fan, but the fact that im still around shows that it didnt necessarily spell fan death. Also seconded on the Midnight Express love. They were awesome. Im thrilled you are enjoying these man.






    Layers Of Love
    Day 3: Love Rollercoaster
















    Oh puberty. I do not miss you at all. What a fitting song off the Beavis & Butthead soundtrack. What teenage boy isn’t either a Beavis or a Butthead? I know I was. Acne, laughing about anything even remotely perverted or fart/poop related, and probably should have been nicknamed Dora considering all the exploring I was doing. Oh, and girls, girls, girls. Though violence and angst played a huge role as well. And professional wrestling was about to reconnect with me thanks to all of those things.


    It was July of 1996. I was 14, mostly occupied with girls boobs (apparently not a lot has really changed besides age), and in between wondering how I could make Pamela Anderson a reality in my waking life, a friend mentioned to me that Scott Hall and Kevin Nash had a falling out with Vince McMahon, and jumped ship to WCW. It was also mentioned that their leader planned on revealing themself at Bash At The Beach in a tag match between WCW’s best, and the Outsiders.






    heh heh heh heh, Attitude era and boobs are cool





    I’ll admit, this storyline had my interest. I was at an age where I was not looking for a superhero, but rather someone who wanted to watch the world burn, and there was a lot of hype surrounding this moment, so it had to be someone big. WCW was a little edgier than WWF at the time, and quite a few of the guys I used to enjoy watching were on the roster, so I figured I’d give it a shot for old time’s sake.


    My mind raced with thoughts of who it could be. A big part of me figured it was a guy from the WWF roster, as it fit with the theme of the group. I remember thinking it was one of 3 guys; 1-2-3 Kid, Psycho Sid, or Shawn Michaels. My money was on 1-2-3 Kid, as he was closest to big Kev and Scott, but my mind started to race as the announcers hyped the moment. And then…




    Hulk Hogan came out.




    I figured this was just vanilla baby Hulk coming down to the ring to help the WCW roster put a swift end to the infidels. Even as he walked out it never crossed my mind that the villain was him. The announcers, including Bobby Heenan were freaking out, and as Hogan entered the ring, and proceeded to help Hall and Nash, a shockwave of chills took over my body as my jaw proceeded to hit the floor.


    As Hogan congratulated Hall and Nash, and delivered his awesome promo, my heart was pounding so loud you could probably hear it outside of my chest. I hadn’t fully realized it yet, but love was creeping back in me. The endorphins were flooding my brain, and I could not believe the hero of all heros had turned bad.


    It was as if WCW knew all of Hogan’s old fans were disenfranchised teens, and they just cashed in on our pubescent angst. Mr. Say your prayers, take your vitamins, and exercise had gathered a group together and called them the New World Order, and planned on demolishing WCW. This was easily the 2nd biggest moment of my fandom to date, and easily the biggest heel turn in professional wrestling history- or at least the history I was exposed to.


    As fans rained trash down on the NWO and the ring, a smile crept up over my face. I was hooked once more. The first year of their run was magic. They would take the ring hostage on every show, beat down whomever they pleased, and force the roster to bend to their will. They were setting the world of professional wrestling on fire, and teenage Kleck loved every single minute of it.


    And simultaneously I was told by the same wrestling buddy of mine, Freddie, that I should watch WWF again too, as they were changing also, led by the birth of Stone Cold Steve Austin. I knew of Steve Austin as Ted Dibiase's muscle, but when I caught highlights of that June King Of The Ring, followed by Steve Austin’s winning iconic speech, I could not believe how much he, and pro wrestling had changed, and it was changing into exactly what I needed at the time. Anger, aggression, angst, anarchy, and attitude. Quite possibly the only thing that could have hooked me back into wrestling, and it seemed both WCW and WWF knew exactly that.


    It was as if their products were speaking to me directly, and it was a truly brilliant last ditch effort to capture all the kids that had fell out of love with wrestling like myself, and just hook us in again, but even deeper this time- and it worked. Looking back, I’ll admit that the Attitude Era was one of the single worst things that has ever happened to professional wrestling as a whole due to the sheer amount of tragedy that came out of it. That and there was literally nowhere for wrestling to go from there- that was as violent, as extreme, and as dangerous as wrestling can be. In the moment though, as a teenage boy, the Attitude Era/Monday Night Wars were the only thing that could have brought me back at that time.


    Once I knew wrestling was “fake”, the suspension of disbelief for me was so weak that I simply had a nearly impossible time believing just about anything I saw in the ring. That era though pushed the envelope so far that even if it was choreographed, you just knew these guys were in mortal danger frequently, and at the time the more dangerous the better for me. I fell back in love so deeply that I went from exclusively watching just WWF, to watching WWF, WCW, and my favorite of all of them back then, ECW.


    As if WWF and WCW weren’t pushing that envelope enough, ECW was not only completely suspending my disbelief, but in fact shocking the hell out of me on almost every single broadcast. Guys like Sandman were using weak Singapore Canes, but delivering so many hard hits so frequently that you knew people were getting brain damage. Rob Van Dam and Sabu put together some of the most horrific barbed wire and hardcore matches I have ever seen to this day, Mike Awesome was just annihilating guys with the stiffest power bombs, over the top rope at that, that I have ever witnessed. I still think back to his matches with Little Spike Dudley and wonder how Spike lived. The Dudley Boyz were punishing people with some of the stiffest matches you’ll find, Tommy Dreamer and Raven were just as masochistic as humans can get, and a guy named New Jack was just certifiably insane. He wrestled about once a month, at PPVs, because he would dive 20, 30, 40 feet on top of guys. It looked like he was legitimately trying to kill guys in matches, and at the time I ate it up- little did I know he really was trying to kill people.


    I attended multiple shows of theirs with a close friend of mine named Nate in my junior and senior years of high school, and those were some of the best wrestling shows of my life. Being at an ECW show in its heyday was kind of like a religious experience, in that the fans made every show amazing. The level of love fans had for the product was staggering. I’ve never seen a WWF/WWE or WCW live event come close to matching the energy you got at an ECW show back then. And I do think ECW is almost entirely responsible for the Attitude Era. After all, Vince and Paul Heyman grew up together, and definitely kept in touch. Vince saw the kind of crowd reactions Paul was getting, and the material that was getting those reactions- I think that introduced the level of violence WWF needed to combat the brilliant NWO angle.


    As I went through high school, it was cool again to like pro wrestling. Add in all the beautiful ladies in wrestling at the time across all 3 feds, with that level of violence and anarchy in the product, and it was must see TV for us teenage boys. But even the girls were into it, mostly I suspect to try to connect with us boys, and to stare at some of the guys in the ring. Who was I to judge though? Lita, Trish Stratus, Miss Elizabeth, Gorgeous George, Francine, Kimberly Paige, Torrie Wilson, Jacqueline, and the redheaded Nitro girl (safe bet on name… Fyre? Pyro? Lol) occupied a lot of my attention span back then. None of the feds were fools in that regard, they know who the majority of their audience is.


    Being pro wrestling’s target demographic for so many years was both a blessing and a curse. A blessing in that almost every step of the way they aimed to connect with me. A curse for the exact same reason. You see once that changed, and I grew out of their aim, the product grew colder to me. And this brief period in wrestling was essentially the send off. Like the boy who grew up and went off to college in Toy Story 3, my old toys were about to find new homes. My demographic burnt pro wrestling out, and it needed to find a new audience in order to survive past those days.


    For as much nostalgia these particular days in professional wrestling bring to so many fans, including me, I look back at it now as an over romanticism. As Billy Joel famously said, “Cause the good old days weren’t always good, and tomorrow ain’t as bad as it seems”. If you go back now the products were scatterbrained, and at times, downright ridiculously bad. Hell 1996 WCW was some of the worst wrestling programming in pro wrestling history outside of Hogan’s heel turn. Though the NWO in the first year it was around, and the heroes it created in Sting and Bill Goldberg were strokes of pure genius, and yet still, if you look up most PPVs in that span of years you find a laundry list of abysmal matches and feuds.


    Just like some of WWF’s cringeworthy booking in the moment, it worked for teen boys and younger guys at the time, but it doesn’t hold up nearly as well as most paint it to. That time period created some of my all-time favorite wrestlers in Stone Cold, The Rock, Rob Van Dam, and Bill Goldberg, and yet looking back now, I don’t really miss those days much any longer. The aftermath that era created killed off almost an entire generation of people. Do wrestlers like Mick Foley regret taking the risks he did? I guess it depends on which day you ask him. But he is one of a small few you can still ask. It was a fun time to be a young fan, but the price seems to outweigh the cost on both a mortal and professional level.


    So both puberty, and professional wrestling were quite the roller coaster ride in those days, and as much as I loved it, I loved it too much. So much so that I was left trying to pick up the pieces and keep that love alive as WCW and ECW went under, and WWE veered into a whole new era that I simply couldn’t get into. Every ride has its highs and lows, and at the end of those staggering highs, I needed off the coaster for a while again to reset my fandom.


    Despite that though, Vince, Ted, and Paul reinvigorated my love for professional wrestling once more, and it was only a matter of time until I came back to it again...
    Last edited by Kleckamania; 02-15-2018 at 01:01 AM.

  12. #12
    Despite not having watched WWE at all during the early-mid 90s, I can relate to what wrestling fans must have been going through. The 90s were a period of change throughout the entertainment industry, and the change that affected me was music.

    80s rock was and is my first love. My favourite bands are the likes of Guns N Roses, The Cult, Motley Crue etc. In the 80s, they ruled the rock world. Then the 90s came along, and Nirvana happened. Literally overnight the bands I loved disappeared from the scene, replaced by Smells Like Teen Spirit. The Grunge movement had taken over, and for several years I found absolutely nothing in the music industry to replace what I'd lost. Grunge wasn't for me and there were few alternatives.

    However, around the time this column is based, something new came along. It was initially called Britpop, but it evolved into the first generation of Indie music making it really big. It never actually replaced my favourite music, but I liked it enough to move on and have discovered many new artists since. Those 80s bands are still my favourites (and in recent years have all been making some great comebacks), but I can also look back and appreciate the changes Nirvana made to the music industry.

  13. #13
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    Kleck,

    Just caught up on all of this, and it speaks to me as every single piece of this seems to vibe with my fandom though I didn't lose the love on learning it was fake, just like I still loved getting presents at Xmas once I found out about Santa. The Bash at the Beach turn for me didn't rekindle my love of wrestling, but it did make me a WCW loyalist. I watched both shows, but there was a time when Nitro was my viewing when RAW was on commercial or before RAW started. Now Nitro became appointment viewing and RAW fell by the wayside.

    It didn't mean much to me at the time, it just felt like Heenan being Heenan, but in retrospect his call when Hogan appeared is maybe the worst call he's ever made. "But who's side is he on!?" I believe is what he exclaimed. That never should have been said. That nugget never shouldn't have been planted in anyone's mind. Hogan emerging should have been unequivocally the good guy coming to help. Instead Heenan plants that seed that maybe, just maybe Hogan is here for the wrong reasons, then it comes to fruition.

    Looking forward to the next one!
    Read my latest. That's not a request.

    THAT'S AN ORDER, MAGGOT!!!!





  14. #14
    The Brain
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    Dude!!! How lucky were you, to have access to all of the big 3 wrestling promotions of the 90s?!? Not a lot of people got that experience, I'm actually rather jealous. I love that the Hogan turn is what pulled you back in, I think that's true of so many people and it really reminds me of the spectacular heights of WCW on their A game, which is a nice reminder as I try to plow through the putrid year 2000 for TLS. I love the line "my demographic burnt pro wrestling out", it rings so true and the effects of that are still being felt today I think.

    So much top stuff in here, my favorite day yet.

  15. #15
    Protector of the Oomph
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    Mizfan is spot on about SummerSlam '93. And Luger has also debunked that bullshit WM X story, so that's not true. Even if it were, which it isn't, that plan still led to Bret over Luger by the end of the night. Vince absolutely prefers a certain look, though. Luger has said that Diesel got the push because, when WWF was going away from the steroids, Vince thought Diesel kept his look better than some of the guys who lost mass.

    90s were good days. Full of conflict. Wrestling really was at the center of the world.

  16. #16
    Broken Kleck Kleckamania's Avatar
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    Dynamite- My love for music has always carried me through life, so I know all too well what youíre saying. When I was in high school, in the middle of Attitude I constantly listened to RATM, Deftones, System Of A Down, Nine Inch Nails, Tool, and a bunch of Ska. I definitely loved Soundgarden, Alice In Chains, and Nirvana though before that, and it was sad to see that scene just seemingly die overnight. Iíve only rarely delved into indie pop, though today I listened to a fair amount of Dispatch and Death Cab if that counts lol. I've always been able to find music I love regardless of the current scene. Sometimes you even find new music to you that has been out for years. There is so much amazing music just waiting to be found out there


    Rayeth Of The Hagans!!!!!- Holy hell! It's great to see you around here! I thought of you when again writing my disdain for HBK, as I always loved that you and I both loved the Rockers, but we each had our own favorite, and stayed true to that straight through their break up/career. I will always be team Marty, none of that benedict Michaels for me lol

    Looking back, Heenan did blow Hoganís cover, but in the moment I know I was convinced Hogan was coming to help Macho Man, as those two had somewhat formed kind of a face bond in WCW if I am remembering right. As an adult watching then, Heenanís commentary would have made it obvious. Funny how age can alter perception of reality so much.


    Mizfan- yeah, it was almost too amazing to have ECW, WCW, and WWE all in their primes at the same time. For what itís worth, in the moment, ECW was my favorite then. The issue was it was too much of a good thing at the same time, as once that era died wrestling felt honestly empty in comparison. I appreciate the feed, and I get the feeling you might enjoy tonightís column too


    Shane- It seems like every where I looked I found conflicting reports on WWFs plans for Luger in regards to WMX. I also read that he leaked plans and Vince got pissed. So much misinfornation. I never saw his interview about that. If true, and Bret was always the focus it is interesting, as that means the initial push for Luger was ultimately done to put Bret over. Paired with trying to get Hogan to lose to him and Vince was desperately trying to create the next sensation. Though it feels disjointed, as going through Brets ppv matches on either side of those events and it was mostly gimmicky tag stuff. It was a weird time in WWF though lol. It is hard to believe looking back how mainstream wrestling was in the Attitude Era. Nowadays it is a guilty pleasure whose name you don't dare speak unless you're a kid. Thanks for the feed man. Nice to see you kicking around.









    Layers Of Love
    Day 4: Love Is A Battlefield






    2001 was both a depressing and good time to be a professional wrestling fan. As I said yesterday, it was around the time WCW and ECW both closed their doors for good, and WWE regained their spot, once again unchecked, as the only show in town. The pro wrestling battlefield was littered with the casualties of the Attitude Era and the Monday Night Wars, with only WWE then left standing.


    In this time my focus was definitely shifting. I was beginning my first long term, serious relationship with a strawberry blonde named Sara, a relationship that consumed my heart and mind for over 6 years, past the midway point of my twenties. In the beginning I still watched WWE, and there were lots of reasons to like the product then- in fact, a lot of fans would point to that period of time as one of the very best in WWE- The Invasion days leading into the Ruthless Aggression Era. Though after the Attitude Era, and as my focus shifted to being a boyfriend, things in professional wrestling just didnít feel the same to me.


    Seeing Chris Jericho, Dean Malenko, Eddie Guerrero, Perry Saturn, and Chris Benoit come over to WWE first was surreal. I loved Jericho, Malenko, and Guererro in WCW for a long time, being main staples of why I watched the product, and after Benoit and Booker T had their huge feud in WCW, I even started to thoroughly enjoy him as a wrestler as well, so to see so much big talent all coming over to WWE around the same time was a bit stunning and initially exciting.





    Look at that glorious photobomb!





    My worry even then was that most of those guys would get lost in the shuffle of such a big roster, almost like a bigger battlefield than WCW was for them, and knowing how Vince tended to treat guys coming from other federations, it was a very justified concern.


    Jericho wasted no time putting that worry to rest for himself though, as he rocketed to the top of the ladder almost instantaneously. The other four men though, known as the Radicalz, seemed destined to leave behind a few members in the dust in short order, and the only guy in that group I wasnít heavily invested in was Perry Saturn. So to see any of the others fall by the wayside was a sad thought. Especially when those five men were essentially lured into WWE in order to help kill off WCW for good.


    WWE must have known some fans were coming over from WCW and ECW though, and gave everyone the twist we clammored about through the Attitude Era- wrestling worlds colliding. As the McMahons started a kayfabe war with each other, they created the dream scenario many of us fantasized about as wrestling fans- the Invasion had begun.


    At the same time in the real world, I was in the beginning stages of a torrid love affair with Sara, and between college, work, and her, my free time was vanishing. I initially watched on, amazed by all these wrestlers I loved from all three federations being under one roof, but as time wore on, my interest began to wear off.


    The novelty vanished for me a bit quicker than most, mainly thanks to my increasingly hectic schedule, and fully blooming social life. From the beginning of my fandom up through the first few years of high school I was the typical fan- on the fringe of civilization looking in, but by college that flipped completely. By the time the Invasion angle was underway, I was going out to parties 3-4 nights a week, taking 5-6 courses a semester in college, working about 25-30 hours a week, and carrying on a very Romeo and Juliet love with my girl. Times had very much changed for me.


    I still managed to squeeze in Monday nights most weeks watching RAW at friends houses, either Nateís or Jaredís, but life outside of wrestling was now taking the front seat in the car of my life, and as the Invasion played out, so too did my growing detachment from pro wrestling.


    After the initial shock of the angle actually happening, came a somber rationalization- that these guys were all competing now under one banner, and many would ultimately become casualties of an internal war. Not to mention how much I increasingly missed when wrestling was more spread out just a few years before. In the Attitude Era 3-4 nights a week you could find a different promotion running, from a then perspective, awesome wrestling content- at this point though, WWE once again destroyed the growing territory-esque scene, and like in the Golden Era of WWF, stood with their flag in the middle of the battlefield, and a monopoly of the professional wrestling landscape. And I was growing to learn that a lack of competition was the worst scenario possible.


    For me personally, the brightest spot out of all of that, and one I still look back on fondly was the rise of Rob Van Dam. You see I was a major RVD mark in ECW, still looking back fondly on his television title reign there to this very day. For my money, he is one of the most agile wrestlers in the history of the sport, and reminded me so much of the Texas Tornado Kerry Von Erich, mainly in that their athleticism in the ring was completely mesmerizing to me. And a funny fact, today RVD holds the record for longest active undefeated streak at Wrestlemania at 4-0.





    The Whole Fuckin' Show- one of my all-time favs




    I will say though, of all the guys I was afraid would get lost in the shuffle in WWE, RVD was at the very top of that list back then, and it made me want to stop watching out of fear that they would squander his amazing talent. I couldnít handle that thought back then, and Iíve never been more relieved that it never happened. To the point where I even tuned back in for a time during the Ruthless Aggression Era mainly to watch him win the WWE Championship off of a young, budding John Cena. The highlight for me of that entire Era.


    I suppose the Invasion angle, and subsequent Ruthless Aggression Era became something I tuned out of partially for similar fears to that. As the thought of guys like RVD, Dean Malenko, Yoshihiro Tajiri, e.t.c. being relegated to jobber status and getting lost in the shuffle depressed the hell out of me- a fate Iíd just as soon avoid wrestling over entirely, instead of live it. Pair that with Austin and Rock leaving around that time, and I was pretty checked out.


    Leading up to that moment though I was very relieved to see that the Japanese Buzzsaw experienced some great success in WWE early on, and was one of the highlights of those times for me, finding his niche in WWE as the assistant to then General Manager William Regal, even winning the World Tag Championships with him in one of the best wrestler pairings I can remember, and then going on to win multiple low card titles, and even the Tag Team Championships on an occasion with a certain Eddie Guererro. Granted his ceiling was low card titles, but I was just happy to see him get that initial success, and honestly, he and RVD kept me around much longer than I suspected I would have stayed past the Attitude Era. Two of the most underrated and best wrestlers of all time if you ask me. A big reason I adored ECW back in the day, and feared their respective fates in WWE.





    One of the bright spots in the growing dark for me




    Overall, a lot of great wrestlers did get lost in the shuffle, and overlooked in those days. An inevitability with such a bloated roster, but still a painful one when only a few years before they were bigger fish in smaller ponds. As my days around 2002 became completely consumed with Sara, the novelty of an invasion and wrestling to a greater extent kind of wore off on me, and the reality of that squandered talent was too much for me to remain invested in. Which is almost funny now looking back, as the end of my relationship with Sara lined up with RVD winning over Cena to become world champ. I tuned in during extreme levels of heartbreak, seeking an old love and finding RVD at the top. Then after his short lived time up there due to his own mistakes, I drifted hard back out as Ruthless Aggression was still what it was to me, and in those moments, realizing wrestling also wasnít what I needed in those days, depression took over me for the next couple of years.


    I donít suspect those dark days were only due to the end of my relationship with Sara though, as trying to reconnect with wrestling after the Attitude Era, paired with the fear of so many great wrestlers getting squandered created its own melancholy inside of me. The product went from shock factor in the ring, to salacious shock factor outside of it. To me that is the difference between the two Eras. And as the product was then, I felt as if my entire world was changing so drastically that I receded into myself for the next two years of my life. I felt like two halves of my heart were ripped out, and I needed to isolate myself in order to heal up and eventually survive.


    A big reason why I have never been able to look back on those days in wrestling, or in general, very fondly aside from those two bright spots in the darkest of times- Tajiri and RVD. A notion that showed me that though I was gonna slip out of the wrestling scene for some time, that I would always find reasons to come back. My love for wrestling endured my first real world love.


    It would just take time for me to heal and reconnect with it. Love truly is the greatest battlefield...









  17. #17
    Sometimes you even find new music to you that has been out for years
    This definitely happened to me. I found a cheap copy of a Lynyrd Skynyrd album & bought it on a whim. They were before my time, so although I knew two of their songs (the obvious two) I didn't know much else about them aside from they'd split after the place crash. The album I bought though was from the reformed line-up that until then I didn't know existed, and it instantly put them into my top 5 artists where they remain to this day.

    On to today's column, this is based around the time I came back to wrestling. As the guys from WCW & ECW arrived, I had no idea who they were, but as the internet existed by then I knew there were other promotions even though they didn't get televised here in the UK. I guess it's that discovery and the extra research I could do into the general history of wrestling that drew me back into it. OK, I'd learnt it was scripted several years earlier, but it was the access to behind the scenes politics that reignited my fascination with wrestling.

    Finally...
    And a funny fact, today RVD holds the record for longest active undefeated streak at Wrestlemania at 4-0.
    LOL at this!

  18. #18
    Senior Junior SirSam's Avatar
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    I duck out of here for a week and miss THIS. Damn, I have some reading to do. Will read and feed this weekend but that first column was excellent.

  19. #19
    Broken Kleck Kleckamania's Avatar
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    Dynamite- True story. So my Uncle Dave used to live in Jacksonville, and his next door neighbors? Lynard Skynard. This was in their heyday before the plane crash, and my Uncle, who was a raging party animal/live action Duke Of Hazzard, said the parties they threw were fucking outrageous. Hot girls, pot, booze, and cocaine everywhere you looked. He also said the bandmates mostly were extremely polite, nice people. I got into them in college after hearing those stories coupled with a hilarious shared memory with my sister- at a Mighty Mighty Bosstones concert at a small bar venue in New Jersey, this old guy who looked exactly like Santa Claus, big bushy beard and all, drunk off his ass, screaming "FREEBIRD!" and "SKYNARD!" throughout the entire Bosstones set. The novelty of that moment made me fall in love with the band lol. (Favorite song of theirs, "That Smell")

    Also that is really cool to hear from a fan whose fandom increased thanks to the internet age. Most of the time it is the opposite. Always cool to see how the same events can have entirely different effects on different people.



    SirSam- No rush man. I hope you enjoy this series and maybe it will bring out some of your own fandom memories









    Layers Of Love
    Day 5: Part-Time Lovers


















    The span from 2002- 2011 was an odd one for twenty something Kleck. I explained how from 2002-2006 I was essentially gone from the wrestling scene, dipping in briefly from time to time to catch things my brother mentioned, or a friend, but until 2006, I was consumed with spending all my time with the girl I thought I was going to marry.


    When that went terribly, terribly south, I spent a solid 2 years shut off from the world. I was working in a factory for most of that time, and my life pretty much involved working 28 of 30 days out of an average month, then going home and drinking copious amounts of hard liquor and passing out until I had to work again. I avoided girls like the plague, and I really had no time for hobbies like wrestling- or, I just didnít have the heart to give to anything.


    This went on until about late 2008, when the car economy hit the shitter, and about 75% of the jobs in my factory were cut, including mine. Being on the verge of quitting anyways because that job was killing me both physically and mentally, I was oddly at peace with being done. Up until then I really didnít mind the lack of social life or hobbies outside of work, as the less free time I had to think the better, but by then I was ready to move on and experience the world again.


    I would occasionally tune in to WWE, usually to see what Edge and Christian were up to, though truly, the Ruthless Aggression product did not appeal to me in the slightest. It just felt like one massive, never ending Jerry Springer episode based on what I had read, and the clips I saw here and there. And at this point in my life, I didnít want that, or what I knew (WWE), I wanted what I didnít yet know. Which brought me to TNA.


    My brother had tried to get me in to it multiple times, pointing out all the legends that were going through the product, mixed with some incredible younger guys, and slowly but surely, I developed a part-time lover. I can pinpoint who hooked me in too, it was the phenomenal one himself, AJ Styles. I knew from the first time I watched that guy wrestle that he was extraordinary, and his career would be something to reflect on years down the road. And no, he didnít get good in NJPW, he was phenomenal most of the time he was in TNA- people just werenít watching. And the product itself felt fresh compared to WWE, like something I hadnít really experienced before.


    So I started to go back through old TNA stuff, tracing AJ back to his start. I also thoroughly enjoyed Christopher Daniels as well, and enjoyed most everything Samoa Joe did up until his tag days with Magnus. Bobby Roode and James Storm also had me watching intently, as the product connected with adult Kleck in a time when WWE mostly didnít. Going back and watching the best years these guys had in the company was a blessing in disguise, as it gave me something new and exhilarating to experience.









    Huddle in, disenfranchised WWE fans!






    And at the same time, I was making myself very available to a plethora of ladies. I was deplorable, whorish, whatís the word Iím looking forÖ I was SkittleZ. I tried the pure route. I tried making something serious last forever, and it didnít, on the dating and wrestling fronts, so in these days, I wanted instant gratification with zero attachment from everything. I wanted to be free and experience whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted to. Or at least thatís how I chose to justify my Skittleish ways. I just wanted to taste the rainbow. So I did.


    I found that there was still wrestling life outside of WWE after they crushed their competition in the Attitude Era like sparrow eggs between their muscular thighs- life went on. Just like my ex wasnít the end of the world, only the beginning. I learned that new things were good, and that wasnít bad. I embraced my inner SkittleZ, and like Ralph, I wrecked the single life for a good while.







    Let Felix fix it. Idgaf.






    By the time 2010 hit I felt refreshed, and in professional wrestling TNA had reinvigorated my love. I was ready to reconnect with my old flame too- no, not Sara, WWE. I had heard things were getting sucky there from multiple adult friends and family, though that almost made me glad, as I was tired of the product trying to cater to late teens to adults- I blame Ruthless Aggression on just that, and I think at some point Vince realized that he had to once again invest in the future.


    I was introduced to the PG Era by Jack Swagger as World Heavyweight Champion, as he cut a promo about all of his accolades and accomplishments in order to ratchet his heel heat up, and piss everyone off. I was impressed. I thought I was witnessing a top heel in the making, as I contest that promo was heel gold, though Swagger lost the title shortly after. I also noticed John Cena had changed a lot. He went from Mr. Homie G to something much more believable, which for me was at least a step in the right direction, as I freakiní hated the ďDr. of ThugonomicsĒ.


    What truly brought me back to my old stomping grounds was my brother and sister telling me how my niece and two nephews were getting into wrestling big time, just like my sister, brother, and I did when we were growing up. That romanticism lured me in, coupled with hearing that WWE was aiming content at kids now. I was interested in seeing the changes, and they were as bland as an adult could hope for. Which kind of made me somewhat happy.


    A few months into reconnecting with WWE, ultimate babyface Cena was jumped by a crew of development talent from NXT called the Nexus, and from that point on I went back to full time viewing, as I just knew at least a couple of those guys would break through to stardom. I was swallowing the pill most adult fans hated in the moment, I was embracing the change, as I remembered how I felt as a kid when I watched during the Golden age, which created quite the nostalgic little romanticism for me, and it made me happy to see WWE reset themselves back to a more family friendly product- plus Barbie Blank was not bad to look at!


    Though Nexus fizzled kind of fast, that storyline connected me to two wrestlers that would wind up making me fall in a deep love with professional wrestling all over again, Daniel Bryan and CM Punk.


    I already knew of Punk, but his work in Straight Edge Society, and as leader briefly of Nexus, showed me that he had come a very, very long way. Coupled with a young bland guy just breaking out of Nexus into the US Title scene with Canadian briefs on, and little did I know that I was about to experience love for wrestling on the level I felt when Hogan was in prime Hulkamania form, and again as the leader heel of NWO- the heights of my overall fandom.


    By 2011 both men were trending up towards the top of the card, while TNA was heating up themselves, and I was now taking on two federations full time again, in addition to starting a new career- my life was at such a 180 compared to what it was just a short while ago. And little did I know it was about to change so much more, all thanks to what I thought was another couple of part-time lovers...

  20. #20
    Cool story! I often get told it's sacrilege to prefer them with Johnny on vocals but they've done some awesome albums since they reformed.

    My wrestling story around this sort of time is similar to yours, but for different reasons. Yes, I felt the product had watered down too much (which it probably needed to after the excesses of the Attitude Era), but also more of WWE programming was put onto premium channels here in the UK. We'd always had to pay for the channels the weekly shows were on, but PPVs had been on the same channels. Then more and more of the PPVs moved to being individually charged for and I couldn't justify that.

    Then I found TNA. People often forget how awesome it was in those days. Trying to take on Raw was a terrible decision, but they were regularly getting close to Smackdown's ratings.

    I was hooked for a good few years on Impact.

  21. #21
    Mr 173
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    Damn Kleck you are crushing this month. I haven't seen a story this personal, and well thought out and written, on this forum in years! This has become my new favorite show. Can't wait for the next episode

  22. #22
    Senior Member JacobWrestledGod's Avatar
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    I finally have gone through the columns. What I wanna say is that this is deeply personal yet packed enough discussions about the history that it becomes a very organic read- one I appreciate a whole lot than manufactured polish.

    My dad and I used to watch when I was so so young, he doesnít understand English but at that era every thing is black and white, Jake with his snake means bad guy, Hogan with his heroics means good guy. Then my dad passed away when I was seven, and so I didnít watch until I was way older. The attitude era was what I grew up with in my teens, and that period was when wrestling is ultimately a drug - my friends and I will be wrestling in the gym, the school hall, every where, and pointing middle finger and laughing about it. Then I went to Polytechnic for more studies for 2 years when I totally enjoyed Brock first run and Smackdown 6 being incredible. I kinda drifted away after Brock and Goldberg had their last match at WM 20.

    and then I got into the army (Singapore has compulsory conscription) for 2 years where I totally did not came back to wrestling. when I reach University, I didnít even watch it anymore. In hindsight I missed out so much, from King Booker to Big Show vs Fyold to the rise of Edge and his sex angle with Matt and Lita, and many other WWE moments from that era.

    Then in 2010 I got full time back into watching, and I donít remember why. Thinking back it was the pair of Shawn vs Taker matches, as well as rumours that TNA is possibly catching up. I remember downloading classic AJ Styles vs Joe vs Angel matches as well as X division matches and getting wowed. Thereís the Nexus angle with Daniel Bryan impressing me so much with his NxT feud wit Miz during that time I became a lifelong fan. I just know that LOP and the CF played a big part in my wrestling fandom.

    All in all, your series so far have me thinking about my own journey.
    And Jacob wrestled with God.






  23. #23
    Broken Kleck Kleckamania's Avatar
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    F2F


    Dynamite- Yeah, TNA had multiple great runs from 2004-2013, and a lot of people missed it. It helped with my overall fandom to watch some of that wrestling, it kept me alive fanwise at points when I was put off by WWE. Even recently, the Broken Matt stuff was some of the best ever imo. Lots of people slept on a lot of good TNA.


    Law- Hey glad to hear it man! Hope you like the rest!


    JWG- That's a big part of this series, is to cause that kind of self reflection- you know me, I like to try and find the strings that connect us to wrestling hope you enjoy the rest!







    Layers Of Love
    Day 6: Sunshine Of Your Love













    I was completely content with no longer being wrestlingís target audience. As cold as it made me feel initially, I saw the reactions kids were having to the new PG product like my nephews and niece, and it made me realize that it was their turn. My generation had our turn for such a long time, I think it is safe to say no other generation in modern times had as long of a run as the target fans. But there was a thrill for me to now see how kids reacted to John Cena, and that to me made it worth it.


    So for the first year back to the WWE scene, it was a transition, but overall I was satisfied to see a new generation discover their fandom like I had mine way back when. And it was easier to transition thanks to TNA. I was still getting what I needed personally from pro wrestling while watching Bad Influence, Bully Ray Dudley, RVD, Austin Aries, Bobby Roode, AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, Petey Williams, James Storm, e.t.c. tear it up in new age NWA (Iíve always kind of linked the NWA lineage to TNA, hence the nickname). So having that part-time lover helped me accept my spot as fan in WWE. I imagine those that didnít tune in to TNA, and were on the same boat as me felt more unrest about the current state of the WWE product. But it was clear that WWE was again for the youngest demographics.


    Having TNA to fall back on made it easier to digest things like the PG Era in WWE, and Edgeís retirement. I was never the biggest fan of Edge, but the single biggest rivalry I attach to the Attitude Era was between Edge & Christian, The Dudley Boyz, and The Hardys. Those TLC matches, in my opinion, are better than anything else that came out of that entire Era. I went in to it loving just the Dudley Boyz, but Edge & Christian grew on me quick, and I look back fondly on them as one of my all-time favorite tag teams now right alongside the Dudley Boyz. So even in times I was out of the wrestling loop, Iíd pop on to here to check results/columns on the MP, and when I did, Edge and Christian were always names I looked for. You canít put a price on the dedication those two guys gave to both professional wrestling and WWE, so to see Edge retire so abruptly in early 2011 it was quite the tear jerker for me. It was also an early glimpse into a level of guilt that began to grow inside of me over wrestlers suffering severe/lifelong physical damage.


    Though it seemed as if WWE planted seeds into their changing soil as a direct result of that abrupt retirement, as two men begin quick rises to the top of the card almost immediately after Edgeís speech...















    One of them was this guy. It is really hard to believe that it has been just about 7 years since this picture happened. 7 years- nearly a decade since the infamous CM Punk Pipe Bomb. The whole moment felt like WWE shifting to a slightly older mindset, somewhere closer to PG 13. It is funny to think about that in the context I am- as when WWE shifted to the Attitude Era, many point to Stone Cold Steve Austinís speech after winning the King Of The Ring over Jake ďThe SnakeĒ Roberts as being the moment that the content shifted from PG 13 to essentially Rated R. And a month after the Rated R Superstar retires, CM Punk cuts an Era shifting promo while wearing a Stone Cold Steve Austin shirt.


    Around that same time a rising Daniel Bryan shocked the wrestling world by winning the Money In The Bank Ladder match, during his whole emotionally abusive boyfriend heel phase with AJ Lee, Punkís future wife. DB went on to of course win the World Title, and pull off improbable win, after improbable win ala David Vs. Goliath storytelling. The little asshole heel that always found a way. In particular I remember his cage match with Mark Henry and Big Show, and how he won quickly by just sprinting up and over the cage. Some were put off by it, I always thought that moment was pure gold. David found a way to slay two biblical beasts in one shot, a lucky one he would brag about to anyone that would listen. The ungratefulness, the arrogance, he built his name off that heel run- I know I personally couldnít help but to love watching a guy be so good at being such a smug ass.


    By 2012 both men had established their star status in WWE, as nobody got crowd reactions like those two men did. TNA was also ramping up with the Aces and Eights storyline, and the outstanding Bound For Glory run they had that year, and I went from accepting my new role as a part-time fan, to fully embracing a new peak era of my love for professional wrestling. And in my personal life I went from thinking I was just having some fun with another part-time lover, to finding out about a miracle pregnancy. The combination of working in a field/at a job I liked more, an increased social life, wrestling reopening my love floodgates, and being involved in an essential dual rebound fling seemed to turn my guys super saiyan, as I found out that summer that like Hellboy, I was about to become father. I was more shocked by that reveal than when Hogan turned heel, if that helps illustrate the ďholy shitĒ that is parenthood.


    As I anxiously worried through my girlfriendís pregnancy, professional wrestling had honestly hit one of its biggest boon periods. If you take out the influence of the Internet, and look at that period of time in terms of how certain moments connected with you, you will see that professional wrestling was at one of its peaks between 2011 and 2014- CM Punk ran with the WWE World Heavyweight Championship for over a straight year after a searing set of Pipe Bomb promos, Daniel Bryan rocketed to MITB, then World Championship, then Tag Champ success before climbing the ultimate mountaintop in professional wrestling- winning the World Championship in the main event of Wrestlemania 30, and TNA was white hot with their Aces & Eights storyline and overall in-ring product.


    I remember spending a lot of time holding my first born while he slept, and I was watching DVRíd wrestling and writing columns. Those were good times to be a fan, and a nice stress reliever to compliment being a new parent. When Daniel Bryan won at Wrestlemania 30 my oldest was barely over a year old, and I remember being insanely jealous of our own Mr. J.Cool for being there in person, while I was wiping baby ass. For all the bickering and moaning us adults do, we had a beautiful 3 year run there, and that Daniel Bryan win was the absolute icing. I'd go so far as to say in his short time, Daniel Bryan rose up to be on my hypothetical Mt. Rushmore of professional wrestling. So much so that as CM Punk vanished from the WWE product, not just myself, but most of us were still pretty awestruck over DB reaching the holy grail. Punks title run though must be considered the cake that icing went on though. My brother still talks about the moment Punk waved at Vince and went over the barracade into the crowd with the World Title. He still hopes for Punk every single Rumble/Mania season. A lot of people do.


    And for those who were bold and ventured outside of the product to TNA, they ran beautifully until around 2013, with a crescendo of Bully Ray performing one of the greatest heel turns of all time against none other than Hulk Hogan himself. They kind of stumbled for a bit from there, but even as they shifted gears found new blood to revitalize fandom in the following years, despite WWE seemingly swallowing up all of its competition once more.


    That time reinforced my love in the sport, as I was about to just resign myself to the notion that my best days of fandom were behind me. Despite knowing it is scripted, despite finding out my superheroes were cheating, despite finding out some of them were monsters in the real world, despite the industry passing my generation by, those years have to be considered among the best of all of them. I felt so content as a fan in those days.


    Though as the stresses of parenthood more than doubled with yet another miracle baby boy for me in late 2015, and I questioned my impact on the world around me- as the internet peeled my eyes open wider to the past, and the guilt grew a little bit more inside meÖ





    This happened...







    /Heart...

  24. #24
    Broken Kleck Kleckamania's Avatar
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    Layers Of Love
    Day 7: No Ordinary Love







    The thing about love is, it isn’t something you just shut off when you want or need to, or that you can pick or choose- it’s just there. At times it isn’t convenient, or healthy, and it isn’t always pretty.


    What I’ve found through this series, is that February is quite the interesting month for notable events in the life of my love for professional wrestling. If you remember from Day 1, the Piper’s Pit that made me fall in love with Professional Wrestling happened on February 7th, 1987- and the night I thought my love had finally died occurred almost exactly 29 years later, on February 8th, 2016.


    I can’t recall how many times leading up to that night that I tried to figure out how Daniel Bryan was going to come back from injury storyline wise. Would it be at Summerslam, or Survivor Series, or Royal Rumble, or even Wrestlemania? Would they put it off that long? They knew how much we anticipated that moment. I thought of his time out injured purely through the lens of kayfabe, not that I thought his injury was fake, but rather when and how he would return from it in story. Only that never happened.


    On February 8th of 2016, on Monday Night RAW he came out, and he retired. I thought for months it was the cruelest joke ever. I spent a good portion of 2016 waiting for the hook, the catch, the swerve. I had convinced myself about five minutes into his speech that it was a work, or maybe I had to to survive.


    The first few minutes, once I realized what that speech was, my skin crawled, and I imagine from the outside I was just some grown ass man, covering his mouth with one hand to hold in the audible grief as tears fell from his face, all while he was watching a fake sport. Pathetic, right? But anyone reading this knows how real this love is. It was so real that the thought of Daniel Bryan retiring that night, right as he had taken his rightful place as the face of an entire generation, cut so deeply to my soul that I needed to go into pure denial for most of 2016 just to survive it.


    And even when I accepted it, after I revisited the obvious writing on the walls all around me for the umpteenth time, I instantly switched from denial, to hopeless optimism- convinced he would be back. At a time when I had resigned myself to never being the products target audience anymore, Daniel Bryan in particular showed me that my love for wrestling didn’t end there. He proceeded to go on and tell a story that topped all stories. The epic tale of the ultimate underdog. One of the greatest stories in professional wrestling history.


    WWE made us feel his plight as he climbed to the top. The connection the storyline made to us as viewers made it impossible not to root for him, to feel for him. So when he won- Wrestlemania 30 took a spot next to Wrestlemania 3 as the two most magical moments in professional wrestling for me. My fandom defining PPVs. The heights of my love for professional wrestling.


    You see I like a lot of things- I can find good qualities in most anything, or anyone, but professional wrestling- when it is done perfectly, when a moment connects sharply to my senses, when it hits me in just the right spot, very little compares to it. On the escheleon of music, or my kids- the pinnacle of love. So when Daniel Bryan retired I had to convince myself through mental trickery that my love wasn’t now dead. Because he had become the heart of professional wrestling to me. He took the spot Hogan had occupied for so many years, a spot Stone Cold held briefly as well, at the very core of my love for the sport. Central to my enjoyment. So when that central component just vanishes overnight, it’s like taking the beating heart from your living body- the panic sets in.


    The pain almost rivaled what I felt when my first long term relationship ended, and sorry to be blunt, but love was not only experienced, but made in that relationship- so for wrestling to almost hurt me on that level is pretty extraordinary. It shows you how blind love is- when you experience something that releases those endorphins into your bloodstream, it doesn’t matter what it is, or the dynamic of the pairing, you just bond to it.


    When I accepted that Daniel Bryan was truly done, it set in that the damage that ended his career, was spent for us- the fans. The wear and tear was worn for us. We cheered for diving headbutts, and we enjoyed a good dive through the ropes, or chairshot, but there is a cause and effect to everything. We loved Chris Benoit at one point. The brain damage he suffered from the wrestling industry caused terrible calamity. We created New Jack- the “hard thug” who had no criminal record before wrestling, but the drug that was fan love manifested his destiny. Ric Flair became the legend he painted in promos thanks to us as fans, and it turned one family cold, including a son that could have used him on a lot of nights he spent with us instead. Fritz Von Erich brought his entire family into professional wrestling, to change it forever, at the cost of everything he held most dear. Everything has a cause and effect, and maybe unnecessarily, but I still in those times questioned myself over them. I felt responsible for all of it, and questioned my own ripples on the pond that is life.


    I felt responsible for Jimmy Snukka abusing so many women and killing one. I felt responsible for Miss Elizabeth, and to an extent Macho Man. I felt responsible for Edge. I felt guilt for Act Yasukawa. 2017 didn’t help at all either, as when Bully Ray retired immediately due to injury I felt horrible guilt- I loved the Dudley Boyz throughout their entire career. Daniel Bryan’s retirement opened a floodgate of guilt for me, and it almost drowned my fandom- even today, I kind of cling on like a rat to ship debris adrift the deep, deep blues.


    Wrestling felt so empty without Daniel Bryan for a while. Without the year that was Broken Matt I might have just completely checked out. And even loving the Broken Matt character so much, its basis is exactly what I’ve felt guilt over- a guy in a high spot match I enjoyed, getting screwed up from it. So even in my enjoyment of it came a pang of guilt at first. At what point do we draw a line for personal accountability, and where does the line end at the booking/management end, and also for the people that sign up for this lifestyle? Accountability is something I have struggled with, and I still don’t have the answers- I may never.


    Honestly though, I knew I needed this journey, and the responses to the columns I’ve wrote this month might have been partially why. The journey often showed me how love alters reality, it shapes memories into something they really weren’t, and it sugar coats a reality that isn’t just sunshine and part-time thrills. But our minds are addicts- they need that endorphin fix in our blood, so they alter memories to make you want those particular experiences more- whatever the easiest way to a fix is.


    And we are in a particularly unique situation to be able to review the past whenever we want. We can go back in time on the WWE Network, or Youtube, or anywhere online, dvds, books, e.t.c. We can go back and relive moments of our love. And in having done so, you often will find that the reality wasn’t quite as spectacular as you remembered.


    Hogan slamming Andre wasn’t as amazing as it seemed at the time. Especially when you know Andre jumped into the slam a bit. For as toxic as the internet can be for wrestling fandom, sometimes it can be a blessing in disguise. At times it shows that guys we thought were superheroes really weren’t, and considering how most of the wrestlers of the past were behind the scenes, maybe that is a good thing.


    Maybe we need to take the past off this lofty pedestal we have placed it on, and appreciate the direction wrestling has gone. Maybe Daniel Bryan’s injury was a blessing for the future of wrestling. Maybe Chris Benoit doing something so horrendous, actually had a purpose and wasn’t in vein. Maybe we needed all this horrible shit to surface to the light, and happen to us, so we can finally put the past in the past where it belongs, and as fans enjoy a present, and future wrestling that has cleaned up its act, raised the bar on most policies, and shown that it does not either condone nor accept its own past behavior.


    Booking aside, as we now are on the outside looking in in terms of that, we are in an age where professional wrestling has less skeletons in its current closet than most other forms of entertainment. Those heroes we all grew up worshipping were just mortal, flawed humans. They were in a screwed up industry at a screwed up time. And maybe the industry needed to change to what we as adults perceive to be bland, in order for another generation to not die so young, and in order for things to truly change for the betterment of the entertainers we expect so much from.


    And if you look for love, even in the concrete jungles of the modern world of professional wrestling, between the cracks in booking, continuity, and logic, a flower can still bloom. ECIII was a revelation while being a throwback to days of wrestling long gone in his first few years in TNA. Broken Matt was much the same in one of the most beautiful individual years I have ever experienced in professional wrestling, and it happened in 2016 TNA. Braun Strowman is developing into one of the most enjoyable characters, with potential to really take over as a top of the world star of a generation- all of this despite us seeing all of the cracks and flaws in the foundation of wrestling- love is always only a petal away if we look closely for it.


    And because of this I want to put the old days on equal ground as best as I can going forward. Longing for another Golden Age or Attitude Era is poison to what we have. And what we have is an age of top athletes just looking to break out, whether that be in WWE, or the returning territory system that will only gain traction once so many of WWE's signees find no room to grow there. It is coming. This is one of the best, if not the best times ever to be a professional wrestling fan, even if it is only for the extreme reduction in guilt we will feel for enjoying it. I will remind myself of that when I feel the world of wrestling has passed me by, time and again.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------







    To close this series seems so finite, yet no matter how many columns I write I will never be able to truly quantify, nor explain love. Especially not when the love I speak of is for professional wrestling- truly no ordinary one. But for all that we hate or dislike about it, we keep coming back for more. The sign of an old love, unwavering, steadfast in its beat. And if we allow it, it will pulse through our veins until there is no blood left to drug.















    Thank You
    Last edited by Kleckamania; Yesterday at 09:33 PM.

  25. #25
    Senior Member JacobWrestledGod's Avatar
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    Congrats on one of the most nuanced and personal journey in the CF, the Daniel Bryan retirement affected me as well, in the new era only Byan and Punk could elicit actual emotional responses in me as a fan.
    And Jacob wrestled with God.






  26. #26
    This probably isn't a popular opinion, but I can't help but think Bryan's early retirement actually made WM30 a true moment for the ages. Had he carried on for another 10 years, there would potentially have been so many other moments like that it would have lost it's meaning. As it is, it has become a legendary moment, as you said arguably the greatest in wrestling history.

    I've mentioned this in a few columns in the past year, but the retirement that got me most was Taker's. He'd been a big part of wrestling throughout my fandom, I remember his debut and the awe he caused. When they did the End of An Era match, I thought that was going to be it. It was a good send off. If he'd retired then, I could have been sad about it. The trouble is, he kept coming back. He grew old in front of us, and when his retirement finally did happen all I felt was relief.

  27. #27
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    I grew up watching Captain Kangaroo. For those too young to remember the Treasure House, Bunny Rabbit, Mr Moose, Grandfather Clock, Dancing Bear and Mr. Green Jeans I have sympathy. For a young preschooler the show filled the morning with possibilities. I felt like Tom Terrific at times. My memories of this time are fond. For those of you not familiar with Captain Kangaroo this is a link to the Wikipedia page https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Captain_Kangaroo.

    The same with wrestling from my youth. I never really identified with a wrestler the way I identified with the Captain and Tom Terrific. I was more awestruck by these athletes and their amazing skills. The green mist from Kabuki was mesmerizing. All were larger than life. In those days one did not know of the injuries that they sustained nor of the behind the scenes lives of these entertainers.

    Then the world began to collapse. First David. Then Gino Hernandez. Chris Adams assault of a stewardess interrupted the bad news of wrestler's deaths with another black spot on the wrestling world. Mike Von Erich was the next death. Followed by two of the remaining three brothers. So many stars from that promotion died early. Much like articles that appear in the national media now after each untimely wrestler's deaths being the fault of wrestling. Chris Adams being shot by a roommate in self defense followed.

    Although scandals were not as publicized at the time most knew of Steve Williams (later Austin) taking the former wife of his trainer Chris Adams as his own. Before there was Deborah there was Jeanie Clarke. How many of you remember her in WCW?

    Through all this my fandom did not fade. I was more into the product and not the behind the scenes stories. Much like the Twilight Zone movie was a good watch despite the deaths that happened behind the scenes. You had to be aware as you watched the movie that these actors had died. But the suspension of disbelief overcame that as the movie played out on the big screen. Deaths still happen to stuntmen but they make a one day appearance in the news and disappear.

    I have been a wrestling fan most of my life. And it seems so rosy looking back on it. I do not go back and re watch matches or shows. I think some things are better left in our memory banks.

    A couple of years ago I was reading an article about Bob Keeshan and was moved enough to look up some old Captain Kangaroo shows on YouTube. They did not hold up well. In a grown up's mind they were too simplistic. My yearning to look back at old favorites was squashed with that experience. Will I ever look back on older shows again? Probably. But I will go there with the knowledge that something that once shined might be marred by returning.

    The present is the time we are in. We should enjoy the items of our life in its present form. Looking back with nostalgia is fun. But it is never really the way we remember it. We are not promised a future beyond today. Pining for the future because of all the endless possibilities is human. But much like the past the future probably looks brighter than it really will be. We can advance in the future. We can fall in the future. And some will wind up like Owen Hart when he was putting on his harness. I am guessing he had plans for the future. But some of our futures will end.

    ENJOY TODAY and the wrestling product we have. The stunt men who entertain us are one injury away from that starry future we see for them. The story line that we want to see conclude my never reach beyond the explosion of a limousine.

    Suspend disbelief and enjoy the world that is Woken and believe that the Eater of Worlds will have equal footing in the feud. Our love will sometimes disappoint us. But our true love will remain our love.

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