One of the most fascinating aspects of being a pro wrestling fan is that every wrestling fan has a story to tell. It may be the story of growing up with the WWE, and its stars like the Undertaker, the Rock and Hulk Hogan, etc. It could be the story of those moments, when emotions ran high and the adrenaline rushed wild. It could be a tale of that moment in time, when disbelief assumed a new term i.e. “marking out”.
These stories are often subtle and personal. At times, they are anticlimactic. And then, there are those rare fairy tales, as well.
This article, by blending fact and fiction looks at 5 such mini-stories. These stories revolve around three characters – Mark, Tom, and April. They try to explore how we grow up along with this business, and what it may mean to us.
1. The Innocent Believer
That eight year old boy behind the rail guard was awestruck. He held his dad’s hand tightly, as the scary monster and his ghastly manager walked past him. He was little scared, but too tough to admit it. He knew that his hero is coming to conquer the Deadman. He was eagerly waiting for him to run down the aisle. He had come to this show to watch the red and yellow warrior. His heart began to beat faster, and then suddenly it stopped for a second as the guitar reverberated through the arena. Hulk Hogan, his hero, appeared on the ramp. Mark freed himself from his dad, and stretched his arm through the rail guard.
Hulk Hogan was coming down to the ramp with all his usual theatrics. As he was approaching towards the ring, he high-fived a tiny hand on the way and moved on.
“Dad, did you see that?” ‘Daddyyyy” Mark went ballistic.
He had high-fived Hogan – his hero, his idol.
The smiling Father just patted the ballistic boy.
2. Spoiler alert
Next day at School:
Wide-eyed Tom and Pauli were looking at Mark with utter envy, as mark told them how Hulk Hogan stopped in front of him and shook his hands. He was still excited, that was the best moment of his young life, after all. Moreover, he had live seen the scary dude – the undertaker, and how he doesn’t feel any pain. Heck, even the Hulkster had lost to him. He had seen Bret “the Hitman” Hart in action. There was so much they wanted to ask him. There was so much that he wanted to tell them. Three boys were frantically discussing about how cool it all was.
“It’s fake, nerds”, one of their seniors passed a remark and went his way after giving a smug look to these “ridiculous” kids.
Tom, Pauli and Mark speechlessly kept looking at each other.
3. The disillusioned one
After going home, Tom asked his brother whether wrestling is really fake, and he got the answer he never wanted to hear. Disheartened, he just went upstairs in his room. He was never going to ever watch it again.
Tom was just surfing through channels, and suddenly he saw Hogan on a news channel. The anchor was discussing the massive steroid scandal that had engulfed the WWF. Tom, while feeing being cheated, tried hard but could not fight the stinging feeling and disgustedly he changed the programme.
Sometime in 2001 at a bus-stop
14 year old April was telling her friends how she met Lita at the WWE event. She was still getting the goosebumps as she relieved that moment. She was still little dreamy and mighty elated . Her friends were equally excited. Their squealing voices had generated a frenzied vibe.
“Fucking nerds.” Tom, who could not help but overhear the conversation, chuckled to himself.
4. The achiever
April’s teary eyes were transfixed at the latest WWE PPV poster. The poster took her 10 years back in time to the moment, which changed her life. She had met her idol Lita at a signing event. Her palpable joy and nervous excitement had even amused Lita. It was at that moment, she had decided the course of her life. She wanted to be Lita, she wanted to be a wrestler.
The tiny girl enrolled herself in the wrestling school after graduating from the high school to the surprise of many. Those who knew her were puzzled because of her choice. Those in the business were perplexed because of her size.
April did not have a size or the look. She did not have a godfather or even silicon for that matter. What she had was her dream and her heart, and she never lost it. When she took a mighty blow and fell down, she stood up once again with more endurance and more confidence.
As she stood there reminiscing her journey. she realised that she had proved the people, who doubted her, wrong. She had erased most of the question marks. She had realised her dream. She was living it every day, and right now, it was time to live it once again.
She shrugged off the nostalgia and moved away from the poster of “No Way Out”.
April proudly started to walk towards the ramp as AJ Lee’s music reverberated through the arena.
5. The Torchbearer
2013, at the WrestleMania 29 –
22 years later, while standing at the similar place in a WWE arena, Mark was still awestruck as the legendary Phenom walked past him. The life had come to a full circle. The subliminal moment mesmerized Mark, and the flashback of his life run before his life.
Just like Tom and Pauli, he, too, was distraught to know that wrestling is “fake”. He tried hard to justify his passion for something that isn’t “real”. He tried to find the answer, but in vain. However, a much bigger crisis at home took his mind away from this quest.
A bitter divorce of his parents changed the little boy’s life drastically. He had to move in with his mother, and live away from his dad. Too many things were happening, and it made the boy numb.
At such a time, it was only Hogan and the scary dude who provided him some solace. It was the WWE which provided him much needed entertainment. Over the years he realised that WWE was the sole string that tied him and his father together. It was the factor that connected them on one Sunday every month. In few years, Hogan and Hart left, the scary dude was still there. Mark, then, witnessed the rise of Stone Cold and Rock. Their audacity and their charisma rubbed on his teen years. Attitude era and his teen years both almost ended on the same time. Once again, he had to move on with life. He left his city to pursue University education. Many things changed in his life, but the WWE and the Undertaker remained the constants as ever.
But today it was going to end.
Here he was, at the WrestleMania 29, to witness the last match of the Undertaker. He was there to bid adieu to someone, who had remained the last bridge to his childhood and to his innocence, and someone who was the only constant in the changing landscape of his life.
Mark was engulfed in ocean of emotions as he relived 22 years of his life in few surreal minutes.
“Dad, did you see that?” ‘Daddyyyy”, his trance was abruptly broken by his 5 years old son, who was hiding behind Mark’s leg during Taker’s entrance.
“Daddy, John Cena just shook my hands” the little boy in oversize cherry-red t-shirt was screaming ecstatically.
The smiling father just patted the ballistic boy.
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