I'm a sucker for nostalgia trips. A song, a clip from a movie, or even a stiff breeze can set off a reminiscence alarm, causing me to wax nostalgic about nearly anything. At twenty-one years old this is probably a bad thing, but that doesn't stop me. At the very least, it gives me a good excuse to justify when Simple Plan or Bowling for Soup come up unannounced on my iPod. Not too long ago a trip down the 'ol memory lane was caused, as these things often are, by an utter lack of anything good on TV.
When and where I grew up, watching professional wrestling was almost a rite of passage. From kindergarten up until I discovered girls I tuned in often, and even convinced my parents to shell out money every month for World Wrestling Entertainment pay-per-views. Ah, to be young again.
Since I gave the “sport” up, I would occasionally watch a match or two, oftentimes laughing at my younger self for ever having watched such a thing. Other than those once-every-so-often matches, I hadn't seen a full episode of any wrestling show in about ten years. Until last Monday. I figured it would be entertaining, and would allow me to reflect on all the great times it provided me as a child. It did not deliver.
Of course, most of professional wrestling's appeal is derived from naivety on the part of the viewer, or at least from a massive suspension of disbelief. I used to watch in awe as guys flew off the top rope, crushing their opponents' chests with their elbows. They hit each other with chairs, and fought in cages. Now, though, I've realized that, while they do bleed, it's not from having their heads slammed against the steel ring-entrance steps, but from razor blades hidden in their wrist tape. And the loud crack caused by Shawn Michaels' Sweet Chin Music isn't the sound of a neck snapping backward. It's the sound of a boot hitting a forearm.
When I first tuned in, they announced a retrospective. This was followed by the retrospective, a ten-minute affair in itself. After that, two announcers spoke at length about the retrospective.
Eventually, a wrestler came out. It was time for a match, finally.
Or so I thought. The wrestler, former Real World/Road Rules Challenge standout and apparently out of work actor The Miz, had a mic in his hand. It was time for a promo. After he finished the show went to commercials. I watched for twenty minutes before a match ever started. And the matches weren't good, either.
I admit, this is partially my fault. Over the years I wasn't able to keep up the suspension of disbelief necessary to be entertained by the show. But, watching a guy dressed in a leprechaun outfit giggle a lot isn't the same as watching Stone Cold Steve Austin trash-talking or the Undertaker performing on-air “sacrifices.” Those things were no more real than what I watched last week, but they were at least entertaining.
After the show was over, a much loved, if highly derided, portion of my childhood was gone. I suppose I was entertained—I did watch it for nearly an hour and a half after all—but my nostalgia trip went down some bad roads. Perhaps it is better to leave it all behind, to let the memories stay memories and avoid dwelling in them. That's the realization I came to. Either way, though, I probably won't be getting rid of that Simple Plan album any time soon. Too many good memories.
~Tommy Morgan, Jr.