A love for pro wrestling

The Compass - - SPORTS - Ni­cholas Mercer Ni­cholas Mercer is a re­porter/pho­tog­ra­pher with The Com­pass. He lives in Bay Roberts and can be reached at nmercer@cbn­com­pass.ca.

Yes, I watch pro­fes­sional wrestling. The char­ac­ters, sto­ry­lines and in-ring ac­tion are all things that make the sport of pro­fes­sional wrestling great. They’re all things that drew me in at a young age and kept me there. It helped that my fa­ther and grand­fa­ther were big wrestling fans.

As a child of the 80s, I was lost in the hoopla of Hulk Ho­gan.

A self-pro­claimed Hulka­ma­niac, I did my best to say my prayers and eat my vi­ta­mins, but I was mostly a fan be­cause I wanted to see the Hulk­ster boot some­one in the head and drop the leg across their face.

There was no trip to the video rental store – re­mem­ber those? — that did not re­sult in tak­ing home a wrestling tape.

On the week­ends, Ricky Steam­boat, Randy Sav­age and the Rock­ers were just a couple of the su­per­stars that kept my eyes glued to the screen and wore the tape out in my fam­ily’s VCR.

I hated heels (bad guys) like Ted DiBi­ase, King Kong Bundy and Bobby (The Brain) Heenan and booed mer­ci­lessly when The Ul­ti­mate War­rior beat Ho­gan for the belt at Wrestle­Ma­nia VI. Watch­ing those tapes were stan­dard for us.

My brother and I were lost in the the­atrics be­hind the matches, while my dad knew the dif­fer­ence, but en­joyed watch­ing any­way. My grand­fa­ther, how­ever, al­ways ques­tioned whether the blows were real or not and al­ways cheered for An­dre the Gi­ant.

There was a pe­riod in the 90s where I stopped watch­ing all to­gether. It wasn’t cool to watch it.

Then, I moved to Cor­ner Brook and I dis­cov­ered the At­ti­tude Era of World Wrestling En­ter­tain­ment. The walk-the-line sto­ries be­ing told at the time got me back into the sport. Yes, it is a sport but I’ll re­visit that later.

Then I moved to in­de­pen­dent wrestling and that’s when my love for wrestling blos­somed again.

Pro wrestling is pure es­capism. When done right, there is noth­ing that pulls you out of what trou­bles you than a great wrestling match.

The great ones tell a story and the ath­letes are able to pull you in through what they do­ing in the ring. The ath­leti­cism on dis­play in the ring ri­vals any of the ma­jor North Amer­i­can sports.

Pro­fes­sional wrestlers are iron­men. They put their bod­ies on the line in a dif­fer­ent town ev­ery night. Ev­ery time their bod­ies hit the mat it can be like a car crash on the body, they say, and that doesn’t in­clude throw­ing them­selves onto the floor, through ta­bles and into lad­ders. If you’re an ex­treme wrestler, your body gets in­tro­duced to panes of glass, weed whack­ers and thumb­tacks on a reg­u­lar ba­sis.

If you’re on the in­de­pen­dents, you might have a match in some bingo hall in small town Virg­nia on a Fri­day night fol­lowed by a match in an­other bingo hall in Ten­nessee. It’s a grind that has to be re­spected.

Wrestling has this abil­ity to cap­ture the imag­i­na­tions of young and old. Kids love the larger than life char­ac­ters. They don’t yet understand the me­chan­ics be­hind a match, but they don’t really care.

They don’t care it’s fake. All they want is for their favourites to win.

As the wrestling fan grows older, the view of it changes. Older fans know the out­comes are fixed, they can spot the mis­takes and they can see most of the moves com­ing. They know when a hot tag is com­ing in a tag team bout just by how the match feels and they quickly fig­ure out who will win or lose.

Adults and chil­dren do have one thing in com­mon when it comes to pro­fes­sional wrestling.

We don’t care that it’s fake ei­ther.

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