WrestleMania 3. Hulk Hogan vs Andre the Giant. I remember it well. I woke up and ate my Flinstone chewable vitamins and said some prayers. I then started persistently bugging my father to order the pay-pay-per view early to be “double safe”. He had to literally grab the glass of raw eggs from my hands as they were almost down the hatch. I had my Hogan toy wrestler beat Andre at least 50 times leading up to the event. You know the large plastic ones with that ring that was hard plastic with impossible ropes that never really worked right. Every single time Hulk would get the snot kicked out of him for about 10 minutes only to miraculously “Hulk Up.” The hands would make a fist and shake. He would then slam Andre hard on the mat followed by the big leg drop. One, two, three. The fans go crazy. Me whispering, “haaaaaaa haaaaaa”. In my best Guerilla voice, “Hulk has overcome insurmountable odds and has done it again!” Then, I tune in.
The moment was here. Even though I played it 50 times, I still anxiously waited with the same suspense. I was firmly gripping my plastic wrestler, donning my red and yellow sweat bands. Then, it happened. In an uncanny feat of foresight, my wrestling toys came to life. Sure enough, the same instance I played 50 times, came to fruition. Exactly the way I was hoping and dreaming it would. Hulk wins and I go nuts. I rip off my pre cut Hulkamania T-shirt. Singing, “Duh duh duh duh dunna nunna. When it comes crashing down and it hurts inside. Duh duh duh duh dunna nunna….” I didn’t even think about sleep until at least 2 hours after.
Fast forwarding a bit, here HE comes down to the ring. It’s Monday night and this clown, pandering to all the kids with his fruity pebble get up and cheesy catch lines. “Would tonight finally be the night he will get his?” “Would someone please stop putting him on last every night?” “This is boring crap and I refused to watch.” Then, it hit me. It was not wrestling that has changed.
If I was a kid, I would love Cena. He is exactly what I used to love in Hogan. So why would essentially the same wrestler, now, infuriate me so much? The answer is simple, because I lack the imagination to properly grasp the character and the marketing genius to squeeze every dime from it. They are both literal super heroes. Both are two larger than life huge men. To a child, it is very easy to see why these two are so idolized. They are everything you’re not and everything you want to be.
So I urge all fans. Just as my father had Mr. Wonderful Paul Orndorff, Rick Flair, and The Macho Man you too have Randy Orton, Dolf Ziggler, and CM Punk. The difference is, my dad never complained and never rooted against my hero. Enjoy it for what it is. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Some food for thought from a lifer.
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