I have been a fan of professional wrestling since before I knew how to tie my shoes properly. My first Wrestlemania was IX, and I remember screaming in octaves I would never reach again at the conclusion of X when Bret Hart won the then-WWF Title from Yokozuna. Somehow, I managed to reach those octaves again when I sat at Madison Square Garden ten years later and watched Chris Benoit force Triple H to tap out. So enamored was I with the world of wrestling that I trained and became a referee, learned the ins and outs of the business and incredibly, found myself on the other side of the ropes.
In 2007, a combination of the Benoit events and other circumstances in my life took me away from wrestling for several years. I never wanted to give it up, but to put it simply, I had no choice. I dealt with a horrid relationship and neared bankruptcy as a result. It took me what seemed like forever to escape and rediscover myself.
Fast forward to the summer of 2011. I started checking up on WWE again – not watching, just glancing at results and reports to see who stood where. On June 27, it didn’t seem to me like anything had changed. John Cena was WWE Champion. Randy Orton was the World Heavyweight Champion, taking it from Christian after a mere two-day reign. Dolph Ziggler (who I did not know was a repackaged ex-Spirit Squad member), Ezekiel Jackson, David Otunga, Michael McGillicutty and Kelly Kelly were all titleholders None of these names jumped out at me, someone who had been completely out of touch with all things wrestling for 48 months.
Then it happened.
Friends of mine began to post status updates and tweets at an alarming rate about CM Punk. You want to talk about “trending?” People who I knew for a fact had never watched wrestling in their entire lives were talking about something that happened on WWE Raw as the show went off the air and into an overrun. The guy I had followed throughout the independent scene, from IWA Mid-South to Ring of Honor (where he earned the most emotional sendoff of any departing wrestler I have ever seen), who scratched and clawed his way into Ohio Valley Wrestling and then WWE’s reimagining of ECW, had just lit the entire wrestling world on fire with what, in our world, has become one of the most powerful weapons known to man: words.
Click “next” below to read part 2…