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Enjoying my ‘essential’ pro wrestling

Enjoying my ‘essential’ pro wrestling Enjoying my ‘essential’ pro wrestling

I had to laugh when I read the latest news out of Florida: “Governor declares professional wrestling an ‘essential’ business.” So, you can now add guys in tights fake-punching each other to a list that includes doctors, nurses, grocery store workers and the people who deliver food and medical supplies.

Of course, just to be safe, fans will not be allowed at any wrestling events until Florida’s governor lifts his stay-athome order. If you’ve ever watched pro wrestling, though, you’d realize how ridiculous this is. More than any “sport” (sports entertainment is the preferred term), pro wrestling depends on the fans to make the events entertaining. Without a crowd to yell at the villains and cheer on the heroes, pro wrestling is just a bunch of guys slamming each other into a canvas mat.

I say this as someone who used to love pro wrestling, and has recently rediscovered my pre-adolescent passion thanks to a monthlong free trial membership in the WWE Network. I was positively giddy when I learned that the organization formerly known as the World Wrestling Federation had its entire back catalog available for streaming, including all of the WrestleManias, Royal Rumbles and Survivor Series going back to the ‘80s.

With all my extra “safer-at-home” time, I’ve indulged in some good, old-fashioned low-brow fun. I immediately went back and watched the very first WrestleMania from 1985, which featured an odd mix of pop culture icons, including boxing legend Muhammad Ali as a guest referee, Mr. T as Hulk Hogan’s tag team partner, and Liberace (yes, that Liberace) as the “guest timekeeper.” Talk about something that could only happen in America.

Still, the most rewarding rewatching experience has to be the 1991 Survivor Series, which will always hold a special place in my heart. My truly awesome parents agreed to order the pay-per-view event for my birthday party, so I could celebrate turning 12 years old by huddling around the TV with my all my friends, shouting at the screen.

That was the event when my all-time favorite wrestler, The Undertaker, defeated Hulk Hogan (with a little help from Ric Flair and a metal folding chair) for the WWF heavyweight title. Of course, I think he lost the belt back to Hogan just a few days later at another pay-per-view event, but I’ll always cherish that moment when my villain-of-choice beat the supposedly “unbeatable” superstar.

I have to admit, though, that my tolerance for watching wrestling is not what it once was. The choreographed theatrics get a little old after awhile. That’s why a free monthlong trial is perfect: by the time it expires, I’ll have had my fill of sweaty, costume-wearing nostalgia.