Our Brother Stubby J takes a trip down memory lane with this essay...
While watching the return of Goldberg so many memories of old came back. Not the long walk through the corridors of Pepsi Center in Denver. Not the loud banging of drums as it filled the arena. Not even the pyro that filled the stage as William made his entrance. I remembered the times of old school wrestling. The moments, that as a kid, I would defend against my friends when they told me it wasn’t real.
I started following wrestling on a full time basis on April 1st, 1990. That was the day of Wrestlemania 6 that showed us the epic showdown of Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior from the Toronto Sky Dome. This was the first time that it was champion versus champion, title for title and I couldn’t be more excited for it. The undercard was spectacular as we got Ted DiBiase trying to get back his Million Dollar Belt back from Jake “The Snake” Roberts after he thieved it from him, Demolition fighting the team of Andre the Giant and Haku to win the prestigious Tag Team Titles and who could forget Mr. Perfect putting up his “perfect record” against Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake. What made it special was the fact that production of special entrances or backstage story lines was never involved. These were matches that didn’t need all the theatrics to bring them to life. These were people who were dedicated to the craft of telling a story in the ring. This was wrestling.
As time went on, we started to see more changes to wrestling. The commentators moved from the back of the audience to next to ringside. We got to see the graphics of our favorite wrestlers on a giant 3x4 screen as they made their way to the ring. Then we got something that we only got once per televised show. For the first time since “Saturday Nights Main Event” we got to see superstars that were fighting other superstars through the whole show. The days of the “jobber” were over. The first ever Monday Night Raw was broadcast in 1993 from The Grand Ballroom at Manhattan Center Studios and it was something different than we’ve ever seen. We now had a full weekly show without any edits or cuts surrounded by a very interactive crowd. This all continued with more ring interviews, a louder and more hip cast of wrestlers and managers and the unveiling of Vince McMahon as the owner of the company. Times were changing and this was the new wrestling.
Flash forward to the years where there were two companies battling it out Mondays, Saturdays, Sundays, some Thursdays and a rare Friday. Wrestlers jumped from company to company and you never knew who was going to show up where. People say that Scott Hall was the one who broke that mold but many forget the first ever Monday Nitro being held at the Mall of America in Minnesota. As two WCW icons, Ric Flair and Sting, battled in the main event, Lex Luger came out of the elevators and shocked the world because this was the same night he was supposed to main event on Raw. This was something that a guy like Koko B. Ware just wouldn’t stand for. It became less about the wrestling and more about the shock of what would happen next. The “Attitude Era” was here. The NWO was here. The shows were more of who can push the button further. We now had fireworks going off for people coming down to the ring. Backstage segments added fuel to fire of feuds and there were more weapons. No longer were the days of steal chairs and championship belts knocking someone out cold. It now took baseball bats, kendo sticks and The Giant.
The business was now about money. Contracts for wrestlers were sky rocketing and the quality of the action was diminishing. Writers ran out of story lines and we started putting the belts on celebrities. What was happening? Not only was the talent dropping off but now companies were too. ECW…bankrupt. WCW…sold. There was one company now to rule them all. The kids from Titan North now controlled the wrestling world. Ridiculous story lines and characters started filling up our screens now. I mean, come on, Vince McMahon challenged God to fight once. The days of the motorized wrestling ring carts were done. We didn’t have interview segments like The Brother Love Show to give us an update on feuds going on. Doesn’t anyone care what happened to Lord Alfred Hayes?
Flash forward to many years later. The Attitude has been put into its place. Money is now distributed in a way for those who compete for it and we have people who care more for the business than their checks. Some of the people who paid their dues in the independent leagues for years are getting recognized for what they have done. Some who competed internationally for longer than we have had cars are now being seen. The world of wrestling is slowly but surely heading toward the direction of old. While we still have terrible acting and over drawn out interview segments, but the in ring action is something that I again have to defend to my friends who tell me it’s fake. Watching the developmental talent fight harder than ever to put on a good show just to prove they are good enough to be on the main roster is fun. Watching the ones that have made it continuing to put the time and effort into their craft gets me excited again to see what happens next. These are people who are dedicated to showing their skills and help tell the story in the ring. For those of you who have given up, now is the time to get back into it. So many exciting things happening and it’s only going to get better.
Oh…and Goldberg sucks.