Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Battered wrestling fans syndrome

In the 80s Hulk Hogan was hot. He even had his own cartoon series. As a kid I enjoyed the larger than life character of Hogan, Macho Man and The Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase. In those days, wrestling on tv featured big name wrestlers wrestling jobbers. (losers) and told the world that wrestling was 'real'. I remember an article in the local paper interviewing Sergeant Slaughter (who was in the GI Joe animated movie) whether wrestling was fixed. He replied that it wasn't when he was there in the WWF and I believed it. After all, Hogan fought Macho Man Randy Savage over Ms Elizebeth until he was bleeding. But I still had nagging doubts. A dropkick on the chest should be enough to knock the wind completely out of anyone and yet they were able to get up and continue.

Some time later, I was watching a Bushwhackers match (if I remember correctly) that I finally realised that wrestling was fake. I remember the it was obvious that the jobbers were 'assisting' the Bushwhackers in their getting beat up.

So for many years, I stopped watching wrestling. Then my family got satelite tv and I saw this guy called The Rock feuding with Stone Cold Steve Austin over the Intercontinental title. Yeah wrestling was still 'fake' but man these two people were damn entertaining. I don't even remember who was feuding over the championship.

So I resumed watching wrestling for the larger than life characters. Wrestling during this time still sucked. Lots of punch, kick and sleeper holds but Rock and Austin more than made up for it.

Somewhere down the line came a wrestler by the name of Kurt Angle who was a heel (bad guy). I remember a match between Austin and Angle and I was expecting Angle to job (lose) real quick to Austin. But surprisingly they put on a really good wrestling match. Austin always just punch-kicks-Lou Thesz Press etc but this time they were trading moves and holds.

It was after this match that I realised wrestling was art. It was like watching Jackie Chan or Jet Li except it was live. It was about pacing, psychology, matching move for move and telling a story.

Then I started looking up wrestling news/forums online and started downloading good matches, especially Japan and really became hooked on wrestling. Not because of larger than life characters but because of wrestlers who could really work.

Most hardcore wrestling fans watch it for the wrestling and the general public just likes the characters. Wrestling is still not respected as an art like kung-fu or stage plays are.

Unfortunately for western wrestling fans, wrestling is in a funk. The main supply of wrestling comes from the WWE and Vince McMahon has a fetish for big guys who can't wrestle. They have damn good wrestlers and they dun let them have the freedom to put on a good 15-20 minute match. Most of the time on pay-per-views they have a great match and the rest are just boring.

Anyway, what is battered wrestling fans syndrome? Its the same as battered wife syndrome. The wife keeps getting beat up by her husband but for various reasons can't leave the relationship. Lifewise, wrestling fans are treated to bad stories, crappy matches and wrestlers who don't even deserve to be in the ring but we keep tuning in the hope of seeing a great match. We watch wrestler who can actually wrestle never/hardly given a chance to show people what they can do while WWE wastes valuable air time on stupid things like a 'Diva Search'.

But like fools searching for gold, we continue watching hoping to see a small nugget once in a while.

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