Since I was about 7 years old I have known professional wrestling was fake. This was not through any leap of intelligence or simply spotting the obvious early on, I knew because my Parents told me.
My folks met on a holiday camp the were working on in the 70’s. For the Americans among you a holiday camp is a very British institution where families go for their vacations. They are normally by the sea, have funfair’s, loads of pubs and nightclubs, some sort of playgroup to take the kids off your hands* and lots of staff wearing red blazers. This sadly does not mean they are more likely to be killed by Klingon’s rather that they are the entertainment staff.
Anyway my mother was one of said entertainment staff** and one of her jobs was to look after the Wrestling troupes as the toured the holiday camps. These events were big business at the time and the two big UK stars were Big Daddy (good guy) and Giant Haystacks (bad guy). Now these two dudes were actually the best of friends and absolute gentlemen according to my mother, in fact she became quite friendly with them and would help out with some of the shows, which of course is how she knew it was all fake.
Cut to 7 year old me watching Dicky Davies’ World of Sport*** and seeing Giant Haystacks perform a move which the announcers said would end Big Daddy’s career, I was apparently so upset the only was my parents could calm me down was to tell me the story of how they knew Wrestling was fake. It worked but didn’t end my man love for the sport.
A few years later when Sky TV got going I was introduced to the WWF (as it was then). I remember sitting on the couch and catching the end of Wrestlemaina VI which was a match between Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior, for some reason I can still picture them run at each other and each perform a clothesline which knocked the other one out. It left an impression and I was hooked on the WWE.
Over the years I have fallen in and out of love with wrestling. Normally it takes a certain wrestler to pull me back in. In the early 90’s it was Roddy Piper and Brett Hart, then later it was The Rock and Edge and Christan****, later it was Chris Jerchio and HBK, I could go on but you get the idea.
The point is that although I am not such a big fan any more I applicate what these guys do. Sure it’s fake but the moves are real and they do hurt themselves, a lot, in fact you only have to Google The Dynamite Kid or Owen Hart to see the dangers of this “fake” sport. These guys tell a story both in the ring and out of it. They work long hours, without a union and under very dangerous conditions all for your entertainment, they work through injuries that would sideline most other sports stars for months, so I think they at least deserve our respect.
So yes I’m still a casual fan, I will catch the odd match or two on Sky and order Wrestlmaina each year cos I’m a sucker for the big spectacle. Does it make me a bad person? Of course not, it’s just means I’m a little bit odder than you thought.
Till next time, don’t try this at home.
*I never understood that, why go on holiday with your kids and them dump them with a bunch of overly enthusiastic adults? Isn’t that what grandparents are for?
**dad was a chef and and lifeguard, he also used to do a spot of boxing. He is a strangely complex man.
***You had to see it to believe it but here is the Wikiepedia entry http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_of_Sport_%28UK_TV_series%29
**** The best Tag Team of the attitude era in my humble opinion.