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What's Your Wrestling Story?


Cross Face Chicken Wing
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I was lurking the TOA board recently and saw variations of this same post in a couple of threads. It's always intrigued me how people got into wrestling and how they've maintained that interest. Using the who, what, when, where and why format, tell your wrestling story. Who got you interested? What initially drew your interest and kept it? How old were you? Where did you live/attend first show/watch first TV episode? Why did you like and continue to like wrestling (or why not)? Use Etc. at the end to fill in any gaps.

 

Here's mine (a little rushed since I only have a few minutes left on my lunch break):

 

Who: Around 1st grade, my parents rented a VCR from the local video store (remember when you could rent VCRs?) and my dad rented me Wrestlemania III. My dad didn't really watch wrestling, but he sure was excited about Hogan/Andre and he got me excited about it too. I remember wanting to fast forwad right to Hogan/Andre but my dad told me to be patient and watch the whole show. For me, it was definitely my dad and Hulk Hogan that got me into wrestling.

 

What: Hogan/Andre sucked me in but what really kept my attention was being able to watch wrestling with so many people and get enjoyment out of it. I could watch it with my dad, my brother, and my friends. When the latest PPV came out on VHS, it was an event to go to the video store to rent it and watch it. The what, for me anyway, was the overall experience of wrestling, beyond just what was on the TV screen.

 

When: When for me was about 1st grade. I liked everything a young kid should like about the WWF: the super hero characters, the goofiness, the action. McMahon's prodcut definitely got me hooked.

 

Where: I grew up in rural Minnesota. No cable. No PPV. Had to drive about 20 minutes into town to get the lastest PPV VHS. A friend of a friend had access to PPVs and we all waited in anticipation to get on the school bus Monday morning to hear the latest results (his dad would ocassionaly let him order PPVs). I refused to believe my friend when he reported that the Ultimate Warrior actually beat Hogan at Wrestlemania VI until the weekend's Superstars show confirmed it. I remember the AWA coming to my high school gym. I also remember my parents telling me we were going grocery shopping one night. After driving about 45 minutes, I figured something was up. They ended up taking me to an AWA show at a mid-size MN town. It was a blast. The main event was supposed to be Wahoo vs. Manny Fernandez, but Fernandez no showed due to "plane troubles." Wahoo beat up on Pat Tanaka instead. I'd guess there were about 250 in the high school gym where the card was held.

 

Why: As a young kid, I just liked everything a young kid was supposed to love about wrestling. When I reached middle school and high school and wrestling began changing, I changed with it. The edginess and "extreme" nature kept my interest and drew me in further. In college, however, I lost interest in the current product. Too much talking, too many backstage skits and not enough wrestling. Around this time I discovered tape trading and the online community and that's what I almost exclusively focus my wrestling watching on now. Growing up without cable, I was never exposed to the NWA or other promotions besides the WWF and the local AWA. Tape trading (DVD now) opened me up to a whole new wrestling world. A lot of the material on the DVDVR 80s comps and goodhelmet's comps is new to me and I can watch it over a period of time to make it seem even more fresh.

 

Etc.: As I graduated college and dived into the "real world," the business and backstage dealings of wrestling also helped keep and even expand my interest. Wrestling is a fascinating business. It's seems to exist in its own seperate world. Why certain decisions are made and the egos/characters behind making those decisions are fascinating studies. I almost get as much enjoyment out of reading WONs from the 80s as I do watching some of the programming. I never watch the current product anymore and haven't for about 10 years. However, I don't see a time in the future where I'll quit watching wrestling all together.

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Who: My grandfather got me interested. He was a fan going back to Bruno and the old Pittsburgh territory, and when he retired in the 70s he'd spend winters in Florida watching CWF. When he was up here, he'd watch the NWA on TBS since it was most of the people he'd watched in Florida. In the summertime I'd spend a lot of time at my grandparents' house and one of the few things he'd ever turn the TV on for was wrestling.

 

What: I was a big NWA fan, but the build to WM3 got me hooked on the WWF too. I noticed it was more cartoony, but it didn't take any enjoyment away from the show. I may have mentioned this before, but when I was starting to figure out the whole "wrestling is a work" thing, there was a time I believed only the WWF was fake and the NWA, AWA, etc was legit since they'd have more blood and violence in their matches.

 

When: I don't think I was even in school yet when I started watching, maybe 5 years old. My mom tells the story of seeing me sitting in front of the TV watching wrestling and being alarmed, but she thought I wouldn't like it and turn it off. 25 years later, I'm still watching.

 

Where: Here in Pittsburgh in the 80s it was kind of weird to be a wrestling fan. It seemed like we were the last place on Earth to get PPV, but we did have cable. That meant we had all the NWA shows on TBS, WWF syndication everywhere, AWA and WCCW (and later Global) on ESPN, and at times we had WCCW's Ft. Worth show and Watts' UWF shows running on the independent stations here.

 

Why: I was just the right age for what the WWF was producing, I was 9 years old when Hogan beat Andre, and everything they were coming out with was something right down my alley. In fact, one of my pet peeves of fans my age and older is how they don't seem to understand what WWE does now to attract kids is the exact same thing they did when we were little but it doesn't appeal to us the same way since we're no longer 8 or 9 years old.

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Who: No one in particular in my personal life. I was an only child raised by a single mom, so I sort of just came across it on my own on TV one day. It wasn't something others introduced me into.

 

What: In my own mind, my first ever memory of wrestling was once flipping through the stations (which was like, 4 of them I think) one Saturday morning and stumbling across something I didn't recognize. There was this bizarre looking guy, wearing purple cowboy boots, some werd purple outfit with a bunch of tassles, a sparkly purple cowboy hat, and the weirdest sunglasses I'd ever seen. That was, of course, Macho Man Randy Savage. So I wanted to see what this shit was about, and by the time he dropped that top rope elbow, I wanted more. I'd never seen anything like it. It's possible I'd seen wrestling before that, but that's the first concrete memory I have of wrestling.

 

When: I think probably just before I started school, or just a bit after. Somewhere in that range. Pretty young.

 

Where: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. I remember getting WWF Superstars and Stampede Wrestling's program until they went off the air in either 1988 or 89. I don't remember seeing other wrestling until the monday night wars. And in those last periods of the pre-internet days (well internet was around but it wasn't absolutely everywhere then like now), finding out there was "another company" where "Hogan, Deisel, Razor Ramon, the Steiners, and those other guys" went actually seemed interesting.

 

Why: I never really watched that many cartoons, except for a couple. I mean I watched Spider Man but looking back the only thing that made any real impression was that awesome theme song. I never really read comic books either. Wrestling and reruns of Star Trek were like the only two things on TV that really interested me when I was a kid. Plus I had about a billion Masters of the Universe action figures, which led to what would be called a fantasy wrestling federation today. Skeletor's Army = the real nWo, damnit. I just thought wrestling was really exciting like nothing else at the time. Of course other kids at school liked wrestling too. There's all the usual stuff you'd hear from kids in that era: the Royal Rumbles at recess (I always wanted to be the Million Dollar Man for some reason... I just always had a thing for heels), the ridiculous theories about how many Ultimate Warriors there were, the excitement around all the PPV's which I actually couldn't see back then which only made them more mysterious. Once I got a bit older and realized it had to be a work, it didn't change that I thought it was incredible entertainment. This is around the Bret Hart on top in WWF period which was obviously huge in these parts, and I guess around then was when WCW started to matter in an international way too. When I went to high school was around the nWo period, the monday night wars, and the explosion of a new thing called "the internet" and lo, for a time being a wrestling fan actually became cool. Me and a buddy got huge into tape trading, discovered ECW and then Japan, and became the two most annoying puro nerds in history. Good fucking times, those were.

 

Ect.: My interest in wrestling started to fade over time once I moved out of Edmonton, because I didn't have a circle of friends that were really into it anymore. And I wasn't interested in the shit WWE was selling, and at the time money was tight enough that it cut into my Japan budget (before high speed internet was cheap and downloading it was so easy). It was a lot of factors. I still watched Japanese stuff for a long time but haven't really watched WWE TV since the Monday Night Wars died. I watched a few of their PPVs for a while but haven't seen one of those either since before Austin retired, so I guess that's like 1000 years in wrestling time. Over time my interest in wrestling has switched pretty much to all the carny bullshit and backstage politics and all the weird shit that makes wrestling tick, more so than the product. Plus a couple of the message boards are pretty interesting collections of people, so I still hang around those. But I haven't watched wrestling regularly since probably 2004 or 2005. And I literally haven't watched one minute of it since Misawa died. That was sort of the last straw in a line of dead/fucked up people that have ruined my ability to get that much out of it entertainment-wise. I can't watch any of the wrestling I like without having it in the back of my head "yeah, that guys's dead. Shit, that guy is dead too. That one has had 11 knee surguries and is a painkiller addict, hey there's one that's actually still alive, go Stan Hansen", I mean that's not healthy and it just wasn't fun anymore. For now the last serious watching I did was the DVDVR '80's Mid South project, which I had a lot of fun with and was very well put together. I still have a bunch of (probably degrading) tapes and DVDs, but they are just taking up space these days. Me and wrestling are basically divorced right now, aside from a couple message boards which I hang around because I for the most part like the people there.

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Sek-

 

Was the show w/ WCCW Ft. Worth footage called Championship Sports or Wild West Wrestling? I'm pretty sure that the Ft. Worth show itself was only on KTVT but when they took over Wild West and it morphed into their B-show, Wild West had Ft.Worth footage.

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Who: My Grandfather was a big fan, and I used to watch the matches with him when I was very young...before I can remember, actually. My mom tells me a story about me pretending to be "Kobayashi in and around 1972..I would have been 3 at the time.

 

What: earliest was Montreal wrestling, Cannon group stuff with Sheik, DeNucci, Arion (as a face), El santos 1 and 2, Superstar Dave Drayson (their manager), and Waldo Von Erich, to name a few. After that, AWA wrestling.

What hooked me? Greg Gagne getting a non-title pin on TV over Nick Bockwinkel in the summer of 1979. A mind-boggling upset, especially for a nine-year old to abosrb.

 

When: Had an eye for it when I was VERY young as noted above, with first real memories coming in the mid-late 70's with the Cannon stuff.

 

Where: Thunder Bay, Ontario. the Cannon stuff was on Canadian TV, and the AWA on Duluth Minnesota TV. Strangely enough, we got no TV out of Toronto so I never saw any Tunney stuff on the telly.

 

Why: No idea why. No idea why it's stuck to me for pretty much my whole life, either. Being a natural collector helps out now a ton, and has always cultivated my interest in it...the ability to trade for stuff I had rad about but never seen, and to see again stuff I remembered from my youth. That still keep sme interested to this day.

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Who: My uncle, who was a bit of a black sheep of the family, was making his first trip back to New Zealand in years. We were all sitting around my Grandmother's living room when WWF Superstars came on TV. It had already taken off in Australia and for some reason he wanted to watch it. My parents had gone to NWA New Zealand's On The Mat tapings when they were dating and just after I was born, so they were familiar with several of the wrestlers from their days working the New Zealand territory. The thing that stood out to me was Hacksaw Jim Duggan hitting Andre the Giant over the head with his 2x4.

 

What: The first big angle I remember was Outlaw Ron Bass raking Brutus the Barber Beefcake's face with his spurs. That blew my mind at the time. I remember asking said uncle endless questions about how it could've been allowed to happen. He told me it was fake and they were actors but it seemed pretty real to me. Around that time, it blew up at school. Everybody was watching it and if you missed an episode you were massively out of the loop at school. All the merchandise became huge, especially the trading cards, and I remember the most unpopular girl in school bringing a WWF magazine one day and being cool for a day. We got all the PPVs free-to-air in NZ, though they were six months after the fact. I remember the TV guide had a page devoted to wrestling news and the tabloids would have two or four page spreads complete with posters. I had a massive Megapowers explode poster that I got from renting the Wrestlemania V VHS.

 

When: 1988. Specifically Summer Slam '88. I didn't see Hogan for the first few weeks and remember thinking "Who is this guy?" when Savage brought him out as his partner for Summer Slam.

 

Where: New Zealand.

 

Why: It was a phenomenon, but I was also into comic books, cartoons, action figures and TV shows like the A-Team and Knight Rider so it was tailor made for my interests at the time. The whole thing peaked with Wrestlemania VI and eventually they took it off the air. One day my friend and I were reminiscing about wrestling and decided to rent some old tapes. This was in 1994 or maybe early '95. We were hooked again, though we could only really follow it from PPV to PPV until 1997 when we started getting truncated versions of Raw and some of the WCW shows. There's no way I would've kept watching without the internet, though.

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I was lurking the TOA board recently and saw variations of this same post in a couple of threads. It's always intrigued me how people got into wrestling and how they've maintained that interest. Using the who, what, when, where and why format, tell your wrestling story. Who got you interested? What initially drew your interest and kept it? How old were you? Where did you live/attend first show/watch first TV episode? Why did you like and continue to like wrestling (or why not)? Use Etc. at the end to fill in any gaps.

 

Who: My sister. When you have a sibling who is four years older than you, you definately want to be cool like them. Of course, she gave up wrestling shortly after, while I stuck around to this day. However, she got back into it two years ago and watches whenever Cena is on.

 

What: GLOW! Like I said, it was with my sister. She'd get my dad to tape GLOW and watch it the next day. I'd watch with her and that was my start into watching pro-wrestling. I don't really remember anything from GLOW, but it was the gateway that allowed me to see the WWF and the Islanders stealing Matilda, which got me hooked.

 

Format: Videotape, because GLOW was on too late.

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Sek-

 

Was the show w/ WCCW Ft. Worth footage called Championship Sports or Wild West Wrestling? I'm pretty sure that the Ft. Worth show itself was only on KTVT but when they took over Wild West and it morphed into their B-show, Wild West had Ft.Worth footage.

 

My brain wants to remember that it was Championship Sports. The now-MyNetworkTV affiliate was an independent station back then and was somehow always getting this stuff that no one else had. Pittsburgh had two independent stations back then (the other is now the Fox station) and they were always in a game of "can you top this" in terms of wacky programming.

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Who: My father, grandfather, and uncles were all big wrestling fans before I was born. My mother actually went into labor when my grandfather came over to my parents house to watch wrestling with my father.

 

What: WWF at first, and then later on AWA and WCCW from their daily ESPN airings. I discovered NWA/WCW a few years later.

 

When: From, more or less, the moment I came outa the womb. There's an old photo somewhere of myself as a baby with my grandmother and there's a wrestling magazine sitting on my parents old dining room table.

 

Why: I really don't watch anything new anymore. It just got boring for me in the summertime and I haven't had my interested sparked again yet. I watched the 1/4 Raw and 1/4 Impact and neither of them especially thrilled me. The only fed that really interests me right now is Chikara, and they're in their yearly hiatus right now. I'm content to just watch older stuff and things like shoot interviews for now.

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Who: No one really. The rest of my family really don't like wrestling. I got my dad into it a couple years ago when we went to a live WWF Raw show but he doesn't watch anymore.

 

What: My getting into wrestling really was just a freak accident. I was switching the channels one day and came on to what I beileve was the weather channel. They were having a preview of the WWF Royal Rumble ppv with Bret and Diesel. I've been hooked ever sense. A couple weeks later I got into WCW and became a weekly viewer of Nitro, Saturday Night and all the other shows. I even remember watching USWA back in 1996 with PG-13. I didn't get into ECW till about 1997 after the ECW/WWF feud.

 

When: January 1995. It could have been December 1994 I"m not exactly sure but it was around that time.

 

Where: Orlando Florida. We had Cable around the time so I would watch all the shows on USA and TBS along with the local Fox and UPN channels.

 

Why: I don't know how to explain it. It's like a male soap opera that is entertaining and while it gets stale at times, I always stay cause you never know what can happen.

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Who: A neighborhood friend who was orginally from Minnesota got me into watching wrestling. Watched it at his house then I was hooked. Of course being from Minnesota he was an AWA fan and that is what I was exposed to first.

 

What: Luce/AWA every Sun morning 10am-12 on Channel 44, Georgia Championship Wrestling on TBS then came WCCW and WWF. While I like the AWA and it got me hooked I was a bigger fan of GCW. I remember being awed by the Tommy Rich-Buzz Sawyer feud. Me and my little brother tried to watch it every Sat night much to my parents dismay. My parents were cool parents they just didnt understand the appeal of wrestling to me, my brother, then our group of friends. Me and my brother would soon eventually be hosting the neighborhood kids for all the WWF PPVs and my Dad would even sit with us and watch just to laugh at us I think. I remember watching GCW one night and Buzz was doing one of his insane promos yelling, screaming and carrying on while Solie just sat there all calm of course. My Mom remarked how ridiculous it was that the older man could remain so calm with all that ridiculous stuff going around him.

I also remember one night my Dad was laughing at the top of his lungs watching an Abdullah the Butcher match on GCW.

 

When: Started around 1981, we were very fortunate we were one of the first communities to get cable TV. I was about 9 years old.

 

 

Where: Chicago where AWA was king until 1984 of course. On the old channel 44 every Sun morning at 10 am me, my neighbor Jeff and my little brother would watch wrestling. An hour of AWA then they would show an hour of the old Luce shows from the old International Amphitheartre. I can still remember the old commercials Bob Luce used to do for the Stop and go liquor store and the car dealership. Then I got into GCW. We also had USA where I remember watching Southwest before it went to the WWF. We also had WOR out of NY but for whatever reason I didnt start watching WWF until right after Hulk won the title. Channel 66 eventually got WCCW,NWA,UWF and Pro Wrestling this week. Never got Mid-South till after it changed to UWF and never got Memphis. Also watched the WCCW legends show everyday after school on ESPN.

We also had Fla. I also ran up to the store all the time to get the Apter Mags for 7 years which I have to this day.

 

Why: I honestly cant tell you. I watched it all the time till 1990 then would just watch occasionaly. Then the Monday Night wars started and I watched it a bit more but not that often. Its weird, alot of the people I work with and friends watched this time period more then I did. It was huge. All of the guys I worked with would ask did you see Raw or Nitro last night? In most cases I hadnt and the few times I did I was just casually watching not really paying attention. Half of the time I was laughing at signs in the audience which were at the time hilarous. Then by 1999 or so I never watched it. Then I ordered WWE 24/7 when it came out and bam it caught my interest and have been collecting the footage I grew up with and trying to catch up on things that I missed including alot of Japan stuff. I am just grateful there is a community of guys out there where you can do that.

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My dad and brother always watched the WWF on Saturday mornings, so I got into it basically by being in the living room when it was on. My earliest memory is one of the tag team title changes, but I don't remember which one. All I even remember about it is my brother asking my dad how the match could have a one hour time limit when the show was only an hour long.

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Who: My grandpa watched every group that ran a show on TV, which was quite a few in the mid 80s, but I hated it when he watched it. My mom and stepdad loved the NWA in 1986-1987, but it took me a little longer to come on board. I had friends who liked the WWF, and I thought it was the stupidest thing in the world.

 

What: It was about a year before I watched anything aside from the NWA more than occasionally. I started reading the Apter mags pretty much right away, and they were negative on the WWF, which made me negative on the WWF. I really liked Sting and Lex Luger, and even liked Ric Flair, despite that I wasn't supposed to like him. I thought he was cooler than Steamboat. I got more into the WWF around the time of the Hulk Hogan/Ultimate Warrior buildup for Wrestlemania VI, but remember being caught by certain things in the months before, like the Hogan/Genius match on SNME, and the angle on Superstars where Rick Rude threw mouthwash in Roddy Piper's eyes on the Brother Love show.

 

When: I started watching regularly in probably 1988 when I was 8 years old, but had watched occasionally before that. I absolutely hated wrestling the first few times I saw it, and would get annoyed when my grandpa would watch it. My earliest wrestling memory is of Cyndi Lauper -- who I liked a lot as a kid -- being on WWF TV. I also remember the Rock & Wrestling stuff on Saturday mornings, and how they would always show the "Rock and Roll Hoochie Coo" video with Gene Okerlund. I was annoyed by this, because I was waiting on Smurfs to start. I watched the first Clash of the Champions with my mom and stepdad on TBS on a Sunday afternoon and liked it, but still wasn't really a regular fan, because I remember being upset when they wanted to watch Clash III instead of the VMAs -- which aired the same night -- later that year. But sometime around that point, I saw an Arn Anderson promo on TV and something clicked for some reason, and I told my stepdad I wanted to start watching. And I did from that point forward. So knowing the timeline of when Arn and Tully left, I'm guessing I saw a promo he had in the can before jumping to the WWF that aired in syndication right after the VMAs. There was an NWA house show coming to Little Rock that October that I really wanted to see, with Ric Flair vs Lex Luger in the main event. I couldn't go because I was being punished for breaking the glass on our living room table and lying about it when asked, so my first house show ended up being six months later, and was headlined by Flair/Hayes vs Steamboat/Luger.

 

Where: I may have already answered this, so I'll go for something different. I remember my weekends well. I had to do my chores before I was allowed to watch TV on Saturday mornings, so I would get up at like 7:00 and clean my room and bathroom so I could watch all the wrestling. NWA Pro came on at 10:00 on the local Fox affiliate, and Superstars was right after, which is when I started watching the WWF. Before either show started, there was a short-lived local group called IPW -- headlined by some guy named Motley Cruz -- but I didn't watch that very often. The Saturday night show on TBS was a staple. I hated WWF TV because I felt like there were too many squashes and they did too much "Let Us Take You Back To Last Week" stuff, but I always stayed up for SNME when it aired and watched All American Wrestling and Prime Time Wrestling on Sundays and Mondays. I always watched NWA Main Event on Sunday evenings as well. A few months later, I got really, really into the Eric Embry vs Akbar feud that aired daily on ESPN, and thought it was much better than even the NWA. I also liked the '88 WCCW footage they showed a little while later, even though I remember figuring out that wrestling was fake when Michael Hayes acted so different as a babyface at that time than he did in 1990 WCW. In my early teens, probably from 1993-1994, I was more interested in school activities and friends and it was less of an obsession, but I got back into it big time around the time of the first Nitro. I still watched during that time, but didn't really care if I missed a show.

 

There was also a local video store with a huge collection of stuff, and I rented them all at some point, which caught me up on all the pre-'88 stuff I missed. I probably rented Bash '87 a good 20-25 times, it was my favorite because of War Games, and also because it was surreal seeing that Luger was once a Horseman, considering they beat him up all the time.

 

Why: I think I liked it at first because it was something I could do with my family, but then I ended up getting way more into it than they ever were, and they stopped watching when WCW became WWF-lite. I could say all the stuff everyone can say about how it captured my imagination blah blah blah, but another reason I liked it was, and this may be weird, because I've always been a task-oriented person with slight collector's impulses, and keeping up with WCW, WWF, the magazines, and the new arrivals at the video store was a big commitment. It was something I could delve into in a way that was unique to my other interests at the time. I've always thought even being a casual wresting fan I think is a pretty big commitment, just because there's so much wrestling on TV. 98% of TV shows only require you to watch 30 minutes to an hour per week.

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Who: My parents disliked wrestling. Well my mother was tolerant and liked guys like Bobby Heenan and Gorilla Monsoon but my father absolutely hated it (still does till this day). I talked to kids at school who watched and had a much older friend up the street who introduced me to the LJN action figures and let me borrow his VHS copy of WM 2

 

What: I started watching the WWF sometime after WM 2 around the start of the Hogan/Orndorff program. I remember being sick and up late and watching the replay of Prime Time(?) on the USA Network. It was mostly WWF as our cable company did not offer TBS. I used to watch the AWA on ESPN and then later the awesome world class stuff with Embry. Worldwide aired on WSBK out of Boston and that was the only WCW we had. I used to constantly rent NWA/WCW PPVs from Blockbuster. For some reason I loved the old Halloween Havoc shows

 

When: I was a casual viewer in 86 and most of 87 (more due to not remembering when the shows were on) but became die hard around early 88. My father used to tape Prime Time every week for me and we were allowed to get the PPVs although my Cable Company did not offer the non Wrestlemania/Summerslam shows and we had to go to my Uncle's house to watch Survivor Series and Royal Rumble. I kind of fell out of it first part of 1990 as the WWF was in cruise control at the time and I was kind of bored with it. Survivor Series 1990 got me back in and 91/92 hooked me again

 

Where: Schenectady NY/Captial Region

 

Why: The promos mostly. The idea that wrestling could play with your emotions and take you to another world

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Who: My best friends in elementary school got pretty excited about the first Wrestlemania and I was swept into the fad. My father always found it ridiculous but was a cool enough parent that he took me to live events and rented WWF videos from the grocery store.

 

What: I started off watching WWF on Saturday mornings and staying up late for Saturday Night's Main Event. My father took me to the Civic Center for my first live show in 1985. The lady in front of us wanted to kill Savage after he beat up SD Jones. The crowd chanted "bullshit, bullshit" after a screwy finish kept the Bulldogs from beating Valentine/Beefcake for the titles. Andre seemed larger than life teaming with Windham and Rotundo against Bundy, Studd and somebody. I loved the whole experience. I tended to take my interests a little further than most of my peers so I started buying the Apter mags at the grocery. They fired my imagination regarding the wider wrestling world. Baltimore was actually a great place to grow up as a wrestling fan, because we got WWF, NWA and UWF on television and both Vince and Crockett hit the Civic Center monthly. My childhood favorites were Savage, Andre, Piper and anybody chasing Flair's belt, especially Windham. I gradually became a pro-NWA snob, though we always went somewhere to watch Wrestlemania on closed circuit.

 

When: I became a fan in 1985, the year I turned nine. My interest faded when I reached high school but rekindled in college when the Monday night wars heated up. I never fell away completely after that, though I didn't become a hardcore, dvd-collecting fan until about five years ago.

 

Where: Baltimore, which was perfect, for reasons already covered.

 

Why: At first, wrestling was something that everyone liked, no different than Transformers or G.I. Joe. I got more deeply into it when I discovered Flair and the more serious, grueling matches of the NWA. The Flair-Windham match from Jan. '87 was transformative, because it was the first one to suck me in as an athletic contest rather than a spectacle. I got to see them live at the Crockett Cup a few months later, still maybe the best match I've watched in person. But I don't know why wrestling has always drawn me back. I tend to research the hell out of my interests, and wrestling fits that proclivity because there's always another company or era to discover. With so much available on tape, I can watch the stuff I only read about as a kid and sort of retroactively experience what it was like to be a fan in 1984 Dallas or 1988 Tokyo or 1995 Philadelphia.

 

Etc. I think I came to hardcore, tape-watching fandom much later than most of you guys. I was aware of the Observer in the '90s but didn't subscribe until probably '05. I read Dave raving about Samoa Joe, which led me to order a few ROH dvds. I had never seen Japanese stuff, so Joe's style really did wow me. I had read about Misawa, Kawada and Kobashi over the years so I decided what the hell, I'd learn a little about those guys as well. That led me to DVDVR and other sites. Five years later, my shelves are cluttered with hundreds of discs, I spend time on sites like this every day and I will happily drive to Delaware to watch Negro Navarro in a banquet hall or to Queens to watch Santito in a dance club. Weird how life unfolds.

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What: I started off watching WWF on Saturday mornings and staying up late for Saturday Night's Main Event. My father took me to the Civic Center for my first live show in 1985. The lady in front of us wanted to kill Savage after he beat up SD Jones. The crowd chanted "bullshit, bullshit" after a screwy finish kept the Bulldogs from beating Valentine/Beefcake for the titles. Andre seemed larger than life teaming with Windham and Rotundo against Bundy, Studd and somebody. I loved the whole experience.

A little retro for you from Graham's site:

 

WWF @ Baltimore, MD - Civic Center - October 11, 1985

Scott McGee defeated Rene Goulet

Cpl. Kirchner defeated Barry O

Randy Savage defeated SD Jones

Tony Garea defeated Tom Rice

Andre the Giant, Barry Windham, & Mike Rotundo defeated Big John Studd, King Kong Bundy, & Bobby Heenan

WWF Tag Team Champions Greg Valentine & Brutus Beefcake defeated Davey Boy Smith & the Dynamite Kid

The Junkyard Dog defeated Nikolai Volkoff

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What hooked me? Greg Gagne getting a non-title pin on TV over Nick Bockwinkel in the summer of 1979. A mind-boggling upset, especially for a nine-year old to abosrb.

For shits and giggles, here's the show that got me truly hooked:

 

 

6/24/79 Minneapolis TV

Pat Patterson & Ray Stevens beat Butch Malone & Dick Reynolds

Billy Robinson beat Armando Rodriguez

Jesse Ventura beat Caesar Pabon

Non Title

Greg Gagne beat AWA Champion Nick Bockwinkel

 

 

***

 

Best part is Gagne having Bock trapped in the sleeper in the middle of the ring, and putting him out, all the while Wally Karbo holding back (literally) Bobby Duncum from interfering at ringside.

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First wrestling show I attended:

 

 

WWF @ Albany, NY - Knickerbocker Arena - February 18, 1990

Debut at the venue

The Genius defeated Hercules after Mr. Perfect interfered

The Red Rooster defeated Bob Bradley

Shawn Michaels & Marty Jannetty defeated the Powers of Pain via disqualification

Dusty Rhodes defeated Randy Savage via count-out

Bret Hart fought Greg Valentine to a draw

WWF World Champion Hulk Hogan defeated Mr. Perfect

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Who: My entire family, it seemed. My dad grew up in Boston as a huge fan of Bruno Sammartino. My mom was from Tennessee and had been exposed by osmosis due to her immediate family. The family moved out to Sacramento in the '70s and she started watching the bay area wrestling and became a huge fan of Peter Maivia. By the time I was born they hadn't paid much attention but one of my uncles who babysat me a lot was a big WWF fan and ordered WrestleMania III. As I grew older I came to find that almost every wrestling fan I knew was pretty much hooked by that card.

 

What: I loved just about everything "macho" marketed to boys at the time. The theatricality of wrestling just hooked me. The costumes, the action, the storylines, the older kids in the neighborhood showing me matches with guys like The Rockers and Rick & Scott Steiner that blew my mind. It was a hell of a lot of fun, like so much of the stuff from the '80s.

 

When: 1987 or so is when I really remember paying attention. I wasn't yet five years old.

 

Where: Sacramento, California. During the '80s the WWF ran a lot of shows in the then-new ARCO Arena, including quite a few Saturday Night's Main Event tapings. My parents didn't think I could quite handle sitting in a fixed location for hours of TV tapings back then so I never got to attend a live card until WCW Monday Nitro on February 24, 1997. I paid $18.00 for a lower-level seat. Since then I've been to quite a few WWF, WCW, and WWE cards as well as numerous independent shows. I even worked a few dozen of those cards from 1999-2001.

 

Why: As I grew older I started getting into the NWA more as it seemed more serious. I started buying up all the Apter mags as they came across as more "serious journalism" though once Sunny debuted I started paying much more attention to the glossy, full-color WWF Magazine. My dad, whose interest I had rekindled, started picking up really old tapes and such for me and we'd watch them together. He explained to me what "curfew" meant and taught me why wrestling was such a staple of TV in the '50s. I got him a copy of Bruno's autobiography. We watched almost everything together, cracking each other up. He'd hate it when someone would knock their opponent down and then turn to the crowd, bellowing in his thick Boston accent, "Pin the sonofabitch!" My mom started browsing my copy of the Torch when she collected the mail one Saturday and suddenly found the backstage drama more compelling.

 

To this day I'll still tune in, though I haven't been a regular watcher since about 2004. I usually will only go out of my way to watch a show if I hear there's a really good match. Same for my brother. My girlfriend got me the Shawn Michaels Heartbreak & Triumph DVD set and found that she kind of likes this stuff, too. I took her to the 2009 Bash PPV card and she wound up loving every minute of it. She really wants to see Shawn Michaels wrestle in person. I'll never really lose interest in the business though I just don't find anyone terribly interesting anymore.

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