Well marks, here we are again for the second edition of Gettin’ Heat with Mike the Wrestler. We all know how much you loved my first article, so the second one is going to be even better, right? Obviously.
But Mike, what are you going to write about this time? You’ve all blown up my social media and slid into my DM’s asking that very question, so I guess I’ll end the suspense. Jeez you’re pushy. This blog’s topic is going to be one that is near and dear to my cold, black heart — why I love professional wrestling and where that love came from.
When I tell people that I’ve been a pro wrestling fan for my whole life, I mean it. My parents have pictures of me in my crib, mean muggin’, like the heel that I am, and watching pro wrestling. In my early years, wrestling was one phone call to Grandma away. Although it would break her heart to know how much of a heel I’ve become, I owe my love of wrestling to my Grandma. With Grandma, any day of the week was wrestling day because it was either on the TV, or we had a library of purchased or recorded VHS PPV’s to choose from.
For the longest time, my favourite VHS to pop in was WrestleMania IV. I cannot confirm nor deny that was due in part to the pop-up Hulk Hogan head the VHS box had. Two matches off that card still stick out to me to this day; the battle royal to open the show that saw Bad News Brown win, but then get attacked by Bret Hart afterwards and Macho Man defeating The Million Dollar Man for the vacant WWF Championship.
As more wrestling memories started to build, I was a “WCW guy” because Grandma was a Hulk Hogan fan and The Hulkster had just jumped ship from the WWF. This was not something Grandma and I saw eye to eye on because I have NEVER been a fan of Hulk. Wrestling wouldn’t be where it is without him, but he was never my cup of tea. When Grandma and I would be watching WCW, my favourites were The Dungeon of Doom, The Flock, and Chris Jericho. I’ve always been partial to supernatural angles, psychological gimmicks, and cowardly heels. Looking back now, The Dungeon of Doom was a little hokey, but I wasn’t even ten at the time, sue me. Chris Jericho, arguably the greatest of all time, has been my favourite from the first time I saw one of his matches. Not only could he work a match, but he could work a crowd. Even from a young age I could tell Jericho was something special. Anyone who knows their wrestling, knows that The Man of 1004 Holds knew how to connect with the audience. Jericho and the rest of the cruiserweight division were the meat and potatoes of the Nitro card, while the Sting’s, Flair’s, and Savage’s of the roster were the gravy on top. Sadly, in 1996 my Grandma was killed in a car accident, and I lost my “wrestling buddy”. Amongst my family years later, we have said maybe the Wrestling God’s had a plan because the PPV after my Grandma’s untimely passing, Hollywood Hogan and the nWo were born — Grandma would have HATED that.
Not long after that, the Attitude Era was born, and here is where I’m going to shock you all… I did NOT watch almost any of the Attitude Era. For one reason or another, it was not an option for me. In
spite of this, my love for wrestling didn’t die, it merely changed direction. It was this point in my life that I turn to amatuer wrestling. This was something my Dad had done when he was that age, so it was important for me to do it too. My high school years were filled with many nights on the wrestling mat, and whatever tournaments our coach would put us in. I was not a natural out of the gates; I had less than five wins total in my first two years. In grade eleven, my third year wrestling, I hit my stride. I was the captain of my team (self appointed because my coach didn’t believe in captains *eye roll*) and that year I went on to capture bronze in provincials. Unfortunately, we grade twleve year was cut short due to my high school not caring about wrestling and we lost funding. This didn’t lead to any bitterness or my eventual heel turn at all…
Thankfully, during my grade eleven year professional wrestling found it’s way back into my life. My Dad had found out that our local theatre would play the PPV’s and promised that he would take my brother and I to go see WrestleMania that year. With this promise made, I knew I had to get up to speed with things before the big day. It was just before the 2003 Royal Rumble that I finally reintroduced myself to pro wrestling in a big way.
As fate would have it, the wrestler that caught my eye and reignited my firey love for the business of professional wrestling was none other than, Chris Jericho! His feud with Shawn Michaels leading up to WrestleMania XIX is, to this day, my favourite feud of all time. The way they built the “fan outgrowing his idol” angle was nothing short of a masterpiece, I mean considering who was in that feud, how could it not be? And on that fateful day, (March 30, 2003) when those two finally culminated their months long build, I was floored.
The match was a masterpiece in storytelling. Even now, I can’t find the words to say how much that match means to me as a fan. Without THAT match, and THAT feud, with THOSE two wrestlers, I don’t know if I would be in the position to be traveling around Canada honing MY craft as a professional wrestler. Heck, I don’t even know if I would be in the position to be writing this article. That day, I witnessed the culmination of MY favourite feud, with MY favourite wrestlers, in MY favourite match, on MY favourite WrestleMania. To say March 30, 2003 was pivitol in my life would be an understatement.
That all for now though, I’ve given you enough of a peak behind the curtain for one day. Come back next time and I’ll think about finishing the story. To quote one of the greats, “Later marks”!