Pruett's Blog: WrestleMania and why I watch professional wrestling
By Will Pruett
Thursday, March 31 – 10:18 A.M. (CT)
Please forgive me if this blog at times is overly sentimental. WrestleMania is always when I sit back and remember how much I enjoy being a wrestling fan and what made me love this business. This year, I chose to do so in writing.
Thirteen years ago I caught a fever. Sure, this sickness had always been a part of my life, on the back-burner, but not a prominent part. And yes, this sickness had always been progressing, looming on the horizon, getting worse and worse. One day, it was more than I could handle. I could no longer resist it. I fell in love with professional wrestling.
Looking back now, I don't even know what 1998 would have been like had this not happened. On that note, I don't know what the last thirteen years would have been like without wrestling. Like so many other fans, it was one feud, just one story that moved me from casual observer to lifelong obsessive. That feud was "Stone Cold" Steve Austin and "The Heartbreak Kid" Shawn Michaels.
This feud captured my imagination as nothing before it had. Originally I had watched because my older brother and grandmother did. Now I had a hero (or more accurately an antihero) that demanded my attention. This is a common story among many of today's fans. Many of them were hooked during what we affectionately call the "Attitude Era."
Every WrestleMania reminds me of that first one that I experienced live. Suddenly I'm 11 years old and sitting next to my brother as Steve Austin pins Shawn Michaels and becomes WWE (actually WWF, but for the sake of consistency, WWE) Champion. This week I asked Dot Net Members (via the forum) to share their first experience with watching WrestleMania as it happened. Over and over again, I shared in their excitement.
Their passion for wrestling rang through in every statement. Many of them were younger than I was when they first saw Hulk slam Andre or the sheer spectacle that was WrestleMania IX. In the end everyone will remember that first moment when they fell in love with wrestling and mine just happens to coincide with the build and actual event of WrestleMania XIV.
Another prominent memory for me as I think of WrestleMania occured last year. For so many reasons, I'll never forget WrestleMania XXVI. It was the night the best wrestler in WWE history wrestled his final match. It was also the first Wrestlemania that I had the privilege to go to in person. My wife and I packed up the car and drove to Arizona.
I'll never forget walking into the stadium and seeing the ring and the entry way set up. It's cliché to talk about the scale and grandeur of WrestleMania, but this was truly breathtaking. I got chills down my spine as the show began and for the next four hours, the critical part of my brain turned off and I just enjoyed the show. As the show ended, I did not want to leave the stadium. I remember taking one last look at the ring and entry way all lit up and taking a moment to remember what a joy it was to just be a fan.
This week, we will all be critical and expect the best from WWE, but I ask everyone to take a moment and remember why you are a fan. There is nothing in this business more exciting than sitting down on WrestleMania Sunday and watching the show. There will be plenty of time afterwards to decide what was good and what was bad. For four hours, I will simply be a fan.
For more wrestling and non wrestling thoughts from me, follow me on Twitter (where I will be doing some tweeting during WrestleMania and all through the big weekend) at twitter.com/itswilltime.
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