Pro wrestling. I was never a beleiver. But, it did not matter. The only thing that mattered in “Rasslin” was a willingness to feel. Is it fake? Nope!
Let me plead my case. Rasslin ain’t about sport, or athletic contest, it’s about invoking emotion.
To feel emotion. To get angry, to get hopeful. To belive, just maybe, this one time, the good guy would win. And then, we would have pruff, that good prevails over evil.
I remember the Internveiw by a respected sports writer of a professional bad guy wrestler. The bad guy said booing was just reverse cheering. If he made the crowd mad, he was just doing his job. Just as a comedian gets people to laugh.
But, I still hated him. It was the Theater of the absurd, and I bought into it with joy. The good guys should win, their hearts are pure, but the bad guys always cheated. Therfore, the only way bad guys can get ahead in real life is too cheat.
This made sense to me and explained why my life seemed so dull and bleak: the bad guys cheated. In fact, everything wrong in my life could be traced to the skullduggery of the bad guys. Ah, if only life were so simple and clear, black and white no gray.
Sunday afternoons the pro wrestling show came on the air. I would watch it faithfully even though I knew it was just a promotion for the next week’s show at the Coliseum Arena: featuring the Masked Marvel versus The Crasher.
The show would feature a rated good guy or bad guy fighting some squid (a wrestler of lesser ability or fame). The squid never won and was never matched at the Arena. The squid was just there so the headliner wrestler could showcase his skills.
I only went to the arena a few times, and then, only on a whim. This happened usually after many beers and shooters. Not all drunken journeys ended at the Arena, but ending at the Arena was always proceed by a drunken journey. I did not go sober.
The show was a well choreographed drama. Everything from lights, to music to the match itself was intended to get the crowd into a fever pitch.
It was bright spot lights, dark shadows, and the cheers of the believers in the Chapel of hope. Hope that tonight our hero might win the belt. It seemed the champ was always a bad guy.
The match would start. The good guy would easily throw the bag guy about, making it look easy. But then, the bad guy would pull something out of his boot, or grab a folding chair, and the momentum would shift. The bad guy, now with the upper hand, would then beat his opponent into near submission. Near submission. At the count of 2 and a half, the good guy would kick out of a near pin. Each time this happened the crowd would go even more ballistic. Gone was the pretense that it was real. No one cared, they were all caught up in the show. Fake? No, it was about giving the people something to feel. And, they did that. I stood with them and yelled and shook my fist and cussed. And for a while, everything seemed to be in place. My emotions and been manipulated, stirred up, and given life.
Then, a bunch of music people got in the act and Rasslin went main stream. The dark shadows were still there but without the lurking mystery. The drama went into hyper mode and it just quit being as much fun.
They even made it legitimate, and even put it on the 24 hour sports network. And I lost whatever love I had for it. Maybe, I just grew up.