A Tale of Spandex and Baby Oil
When the powers-that-be asked me to start writing blogs, I knew that this day would come. After writing about Mummers, game shows, theatre, and Denton, I knew there would come a day where I would have to write a blog about the form of entertainment that has been a part of my life for over 25 years. This blog may incite mockery, disdain, or head shaking. That doesn't matter. It's time for me to come clean.
I'm Justin Tate, and I am a fan of professional wrestling.
When I was a kid, I wanted to be a wrestler. I had my theme music picked out ("Monster" by Extreme, for those interested). My elementary school buddy Chad and I were determined to be a tag team. We'd spend recess talking about our names, our finishing moves, and our totally rad costumes that featured football shoulder pads with flamethrowers attached to them. If I hadn't been destined to a life of male-pattern baldness, the fire shooting out of my shoulders would have secured my place in Cueball Land.
For most of my life, I have endured the verbal abuse of my peers who openly question my sanity for being a fan of the squared circle. Therefore, for mockers and fans alike, I present my best retorts to the most common comments of professional wrestling haters:
"You know it's fake, right?"
This is coming from people who flock to the movies to see "Guardians of the Galaxy." Can you imagine if I walked into a movie theater, and made sure everybody knew that "Harry Potter" was fake? I do three months of Summer Mummers every year. It truly doesn't get more fake than that. Fake is fun.
Another point to be made here. I have an issue with the term "fake." Pre-determined? Of course. Doing moves so that you are safely taking care of your opponent? Naturally. Fake? Not quite. My wife trained to be a professional wrestler for a little while. I rubbed her back when she could barely move. I held her hand as she went up the stairs, dizzy from her concussion. I watched her puke in a trash can backstage and have her debut match canceled because of her injuries.
"Watching two oiled up dudes wrestle each other in their underwear is kind of gay, don't you think?"
If that is a genuine concern of yours, there are bigger issues in your life than professional wrestling.
"All of those guys are on steroids."
Maybe. Let's clean up domestic abuse in the NFL and steroid use in a real competition like baseball. Then we can look at this.
"The acting is so cheesy!"
Yup. I love it. By the way, did you catch "Days Of Our Lives" the other day?
As time has passed, I have gone from being a wide-eyed fan of these behemoths on TV, to being a 30-something year old who watches as more of critic than a fan. I've even had the opportunity to work as a referee for wrestling events in west Texas. Perhaps it has made me more jaded. Kind of like the person who knows how to do every magic trick in the book. The wonder is replaced by reality.
As I type this, I'm getting ready to drive with my wife to Abilene. We're meeting some friends of ours and their son, who has recently become a wrestling fan. Saturday night, we're all going to a WWE live event. For the four of us adults, it will be a night to see have a few beers and watch the guys who we've seen on TV. But for our friends' son, it will be an unforgettable night. He'll watch with the same excitement, the same wonder, and the same hopes as I did when I was his age. I envy him.