(Note: I wrote this last night, before hearing the news regarding the death of The Ultimate Warrior. It makes it hard to be a fan of wrestling at times, and other than what I am writing below, the only thing left to shock me as a wrestling fan anymore is when a legend passes away. Rest In Peace Warrior, I’m glad you got one last glimpse in the sun before traveling to the great beyond.)
Hate to start off with such a silly quote, but the title for anyone who really knows inside pro wrestling references will absolutely get that. If not just search that quote and pro wrestling in Google and voila you are in on it too. I think this might be the first actual blog I have done on pro wrestling. Strange considering it has been one of my favorite things since high school to never bring it up, but I think that is because the passion of it has swayed from time to time. But as you will read, you will get an understanding of where it fits in my life and how it has affected me throughout it.
To begin, I never watched Pro Wrestling as a child. My parents wouldn’t allow it, because we took things very literally (ie: We had to stop watching Popeye cartoons because I would imitate and become physical with my sibilings at times). I knew about the Hulkster, Randy Savage, Ultimate Warrior, and basically everyone that was associated with the then WWF because it was so popular, you couldn’t escape it. I didn’t know about guys like Ric Flair, Dusty Rhodes, or anyone else associated with WCW because it wasn’t as main stream popular as WWF. So when did it change?
I still remember in the fall of ‘96 when my Dad was flipping through the channels during a commercial break during Monday Night Football. I was still an NFL fan at the time, so we were just channel surfing. Something caught my Dad’s attention and he stopped on TNT, where we saw a black bearded Hulk Hogan pointing and yelling at Rowdy Roddy Piper, and had a gang of guys with him. It intrigued us, firstly because it was like “Hogan and Piper are STILL wrestling?” and “When did Hulk Hogan become a bad guy?” I was hooked. I hated Hollywood Hogan, was impressed by a silent man wearing crow makeup they said was called Sting, and wanted to know who was gonna stop this gang called the New World Order. So both my brother and I started watching. A few weeks,(maybe even a month) or so my brother tells me about what was going on in the WWF with this guy called Stone Cold Steve Austin. We started watching that, and then became the victims of channel surfing during the heyday of the Monday Night Wars.
I’ve been through many shocking moments since then. Even though I missed Hogan’s turn to the darkside and the formation of the NWO, I still understand it’s shocking moment. I saw the Montreal Screwjob (actually audio heard it, listened to it scrambled on my cable box). I felt the aftermath of the deaths of wrestlers I grew to love and adore: Owen Hart, Brian Pillman, Mr. Perfect, Bulldog, etc. I saw the end of WCW, the return and second demise of ECW, the tragedy of Chris Benoit. Probably the last shock before what happened this past Sunday was seeing Bret Hart come back to the WWE, only because I knew the history of the hurt, and how hard it could be to mend old wounds. There really was only one thing left that I could honestly say I never could see happen. The end of The Undertaker’s legendary winning streak at WrestleMania.
Being a fan as long as I have, you tend to watch it with more of how the politics of wrestling in the back are, and not necessarily what makes sense for the story that should be told inside that ring. It’s because of that reason I never got shocked by things like CM Punk being derailed in a push, good athletes being ignored in favor of the more political, alpha male types (see: Triple H, Randy Orton) or expecting anyone booking the WWE to understand what the fans really wanted.
The issue with the streak
The Undertaker has been in the WWE for a LONG time. He is probably the most respected man in the locker room, and has enough clout to be able to do what he wants as far as who he wants to put over (let win/look good) . Other than Vince McMahon forcing the issue, I feel the Undertaker can decide who he wanted to finally beat him. Every year they found a way to make me believe that streak was in danger, (because I was using political common sense, and nothing else) and every year I ended up being wrong. HBK lost 2 times in a row to the Taker. Triple H 3. I thought last year they might have allowed CM Punk to beat the streak simply because A) It would have been a perfect 20-1 situation, and B) The WWE and Taker might have thrown CM Punk a bone for screwing him out of what should have been the main event at WrestleMania. Still no. This year I thought the only way Taker would lose is because he has respect for Lesnar. Its no secret the Undertaker is a fan of MMA, hell a couple of years ago he showed up on a UFC PPV to try and get some heat about them possibly fighting at some point. In my head I thought this could happen because of the respect. I still didn’t think it would happen. Then it did.
The reactions on these fans is what was going on everywhere. It shocked me. It shocked everyone. No one expected it. I can’t think that anything can top this. Not anymore in wrestling. Not for awhile at least. This was the last gasp I think that was left in wrestling for those die hards out there. The decision to do it makes sense too. The respect, the fact that Taker might be on his way to retiring soon. I’m glad it happened. It needed to happen.
When asked the other day if this was as big as Hogan turning to the dark side and creating the NWO, I had to pause. I think it is. Only because of the shock factor. Obviously in the long run this isn’t a game changer to change the landscape of wrestling. This simply is the last shock left in wrestling, other than when a wrestler dies. I also think it’s symbolic. The WWE this past monday has ushered in a new era of young talent and direction, and I feel this was almost a tribute to the last hangings on of the old. Time to pave the way for the future. Thank you Undertaker for the fun you have given making us wonder if you’d escape another year. You deserved in some aspects to stay flawless, and it takes a big man to be able to finally pass the torch to someone you feel deserves the respect to be the 1 in 21 and 1.