Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Wrestlemania Memories

As cynical as we all can be as Wrestling fans, the thing about Wrestlemania that makes it special is how it ties to memories of our youth. They make you remember fond memories. I can remember my dad taking me to see Wrestlemania 2 on closed circuit television at Copps Coliseum. Even as a kid I could tell he really didn’t care much for this wrestling stuff, but he was going to take his son to something he enjoyed. Funny thing is even he got excited watching the British Bulldogs match with The Dream Team. My dad marking out for false finishes just like me was just amazing to see. 

Dad for whatever reason took a liking to Ricky Steamboat and as a kid my favourite and still to this day was Randy Savage. Mom took me back to the same venue to see Randy Savage lose to Ricky Steamboat in Wrestlemania 3. It would go on to be considered one of the classic matches of all time. As a kid I didn’t care about that in the slightest, all I cared about was my guy Randy Savage had lost and I was crushed. Needless to say I was not that happy with my dad for a week or maybe two after that match.

Sadly my father would pass away months later but I will always look back on those moments with him tied to going to wrestling events as some of my most fond memories of my father. I struggled after losing my father in June. Still getting use to life without him I would be back at the same venue to see Wrestlemania 4 and the tournament that would see Randy Savage go on to win the WWF Championship.

If I had paid more attention by the time Randy Savage met Greg “The Hammer” Valentine it should have been obvious that Randy Savage was going to win it all. Still I was just a nervous fan wanting to hope that my guy was going come out on top. Maybe young kids today have that same feeling about Daniel Bryan and if we will win the Championship.

Maybe all those kids that root for John Cena are in fear that he will lose to the evil Bray Wyatt. I think we lose that prospective of what it feels like to be that kid. They are not concerned with how good a match is or if someone is getting a push or being buried. They have no concept or knowledge of what those things are. They just have someone they root for and want them to win.

As an older fan I grew to appreciate the talents of Shawn Micheals and what he could do in a ring. He to me was the guy that replaced Savage as my favourite. Strange that being in Canada for Wrestlemania 12 and the Ironman Match I wanted to see HBK win it all. That match I watched with a good friend of mine that I recently re-connected with. Part of how our friendship began was both being fans of wrestling and video games. We met because our dad’s both bowled in a league on the same night. We as kids would tear around this bowling alley and wrestle and play video games. This once had a bad result as I took a belly to back suplex into the edge of a pop machine which resulted in my getting stitches for the first time in my life. Seeing my own blood was a lot different than watching Ric Flair or Hulk Hogan bleed that is for sure. Don’t try this at home was never professed back than.

Another story I remember from my days in high school was about a house show at the Copps once again. I watched Curt Henning from the first row of ringside and yelled after he completed a move “that was perfect” and he pointed at me and said “your damn right it was.” I attended the first ever Royal Rumble although it was not called that at the time it was a special for U.S cable being taped up here not a PPV. Hacksaw Jim Duggan as you all maybe aware won that first rumble. I am here to tell you though if the fans on that night had their way it would have been HOF Inductee this year Jake “The Snake” Roberts.  The Chants of “D-D-T” were loud from the moment he entered to the moment he was eliminated. Not really good advice from us as crowd to eliminate people but was a sign that Jake was very over more than anyone on that night. In fact, even more than Hogan who was there to sign a contract for his big re-match with Andre The Giant that would end up setting the wheels in motion for the tournament Savage won at Wrestlemania 4 I mentioned earlier.

The points I make here are a couple I guess. Wrestlemania has become an event that we tie memories to not just of the matches and the events that take place but of our lives. I realize this comes off as a bit of a sappy thing like the WWE Network commercial with the boy that grows up to have a son and family through his WWE Fandom. Thing is you swap those Cena and Punk shirts for Steamboat and Savage and that was me and my dad. It’s something I can relate too, even if you want to consider it sappy dribble.

Wrestlemania has grown to be an event that has a rich and long history that ties to our memories of the past and represents some of the current events of those times. I just listened to Review-A-Wai and they reviewed Wrestlemania 7 which was another famous Savage moment. His Career vs. Career match against Hall of Fame Inductee the Ultimate Warrior. It is the core of why I will never like the Warrior as he ended that match by putting his foot on Savage’s chest after kicking out of 5 elbows from Savage.

This might be the point where the jaded fan and smarter fan started for me. That jerk just ended Macho’s career at the time by covering his with his foot? Savage would not be gone long as this was my first experience at realizing the wrestling retirement was not exactly binding. Brett Favre must have been a wrestling fan given his career. The point was Savage carried that sack of garbage to the best match he ever had and he ended it by putting his foot on him. Worked or not that just seemed so wrong to me.

The fact we are over 20 years removed from that event and I still feel that way tells you what Wrestlemania does in terms of creating lasting moments. The results are pre-determined and they can be predictable but still those Wrestlemania Moments they talk about are real. Not just for the wrestlers but for fans as well.

People look back and review these shows that never experienced them at the time and I always find that interesting. They often see how horrible these cards were in the context of today. In reality that just isn’t fair in some sense because out of context a great many things don’t look good by today’s standards. I can still laugh along though at how goofy some of the stuff seems now-a-days.

The other thing the CM Punk loving John Cena hating me learned from this was that maybe I forget what it was like being a kid watching this stuff. Maybe while I am tired of John Cena and his entire act which is nothing more than a modern version of Hulk Hogan that I forget what it was like as a kid. Although, being a Savage fan, I never liked Hogan and only tolerated him during his time with Savage in the Mega Powers. I was the exception not the rule and just like many kids today love John Cena I maybe should respect that a little and remember how I felt as that kid.

Every wrestler I have ever loved has some tie back to that original love of Randy Savage. Punk wearing those tribute tights after the death of Savage made me as a grown man get teary eyed. His doing the Savage Elbow and keeping Savage alive through chants of his name in crowds today is the best gift he could give to me as a Savage fan.

It all in the end comes back to those magic moments at a Wrestlemania that cement our fandom in the people we love. It isn’t always about how good or bad a match was. About who should win or lose and booking of the product. It is about those memories that are created and that connection it creates for us with a wrestler. Mania provides wrestling fans with moments that can take them back to where they were and what they felt at that time. Like this is you life type of feel all connected to this event. Something that when it began no one could have imagined what it would truly become. Vince McMahon regardless what you think of him has given us all something that we can look back to as part of our history as both fans of wrestling and people in general.

That is something that is priceless. Not even the Million Dollar Man can take away the memories you have for this iconic wrestling institution.