Just admit it, at one point in your life, you became a pro wrestling fan, maybe for one show, a week, or even until adulthood. Sure, people may give you a weird look when you have to leave the party to go watch WrestleMania, but it’s the Granddaddy of them all! At any rate, most fans got hooked in their younger days, when wrestlers were these larger-than-life superheroes and villains that seemed totally real, and in no way could ever be a fictional character on a scripted show.
That’s what made wrestling so awesome for kids, they didn’t worry about what was possible or fake, they didn’t keep up on all the latest rumors or spoilers via the internet, if there was even an internet around back then. Kids could just enjoy the shows each week, pick which wrestler they were going to be among their friends, and usually, beat the heck out of each other until Mom came in and shut that nonsense down.
So let’s go back in time and revisit some of the things that all young pro wrestling fans probably thought about at one time or another, some of these beliefs may pertain to the 80s or 90s, while others will be considered timeless.
10. The Undertaker Was Terrifying
Back at the 1990 Survivor Series, Undertaker made his debut as the mystery member of Ted DiBiase’s survivor series team and he was not one to mess with. Kids in the crowd stared as this giant creep slowly slink by them and proceeded to destroy the other team. Fast forward to the 1991 Survivor Series were Undertaker defeated crowd-favorite Hulk Hogan for the WWF title, and kids could be seen crying in the crowd, as their beloved hero was destroyed by this dead weirdo.
Lightning, caskets, graveyards, and being buried alive, Undertaker has always been considered one of the creepier wrestling gimmicks and amazingly, one of the longest running gimmicks ever, currently at 25 years.
9. Ring Steel Steps Are Incredibly Heavy
Remember how much wrestling announcers would hype those darn steel steps? Depending on who was talking, those things weighed anywhere from one-hundred to over three-hundred pounds! Well, if you were a kid, all of that talk worked really well. Whenever the steps were used it was literally amazing any wrestler could recover after getting a three-hundred pound hunk of steel thrown at their head.
In reality, these steels steps weighed anywhere from 20-40 pounds, obviously, if mishandled, they could still do damage, but not as much as the announcers would typically say in the 90’s or earlier.
8. Siblings Were Mandatory Wrestling Dummies
If you were a younger sibling, this memory is probably not a fond one: getting choke slammed is not nearly as fun as it looked on TV. Although, older siblings probably have some great memories of setting their sibling up for a Razor’s Edge on to the bed (if they were lucky). Kids often mimic what they see, and if they watched a lot of wrestling, they were bound to try out a few moves.
This has unfortunately led to some awful injuries, so companies like the WWE have put out more “don’t try this at home” promos over the last couple decades to slow down this behavior.
7. Hulk Hogan Couldn’t Be Beat
Hogan was a real American; he fought for what’s right in every man, and also almost never lost an important match in the 1980’s. From 1984 until 1988 he had an incredible record of 617 wins and only 67 losses, in wrestling, winning fifty percent of the time is a good mark, and Hogan won ninety percent of the time during that stretch!
Wins and losses don’t necessary mean a ton in wrestling, but always winning makes it really easy to get a large fan base that cheer the heck out of you at every appearance. If you think Cena has a lot of kid fans, just look at the crowds for Hogan, he was loved by nearly every little “Hulkamaniac” one out there, at least until the Ultimate Warrior came around.
6. John Cena Is Life
In the WWE, after Hogan, came Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, and then, John Cena. Since 2005, Cena has been the face of the company, easily their top draw and merchandise seller, along with tons of media/charity appearances, and cross-over appeal. The biggest reason he’s been so popular, for so long, is the kids.
WWE continually cranks out new colorful merchandise and kids just soak it all up, at every show you’ll see them decked out in not just a shirt, but shorts, arm bands, necklaces, and whatever else WWE can think of producing. Sure, Cena isn’t loved globally, but when he retires, WWE is going to have a massive hole to fill for their kid’s demographic.
5. You Were Either WCW or N.W.O.
In the mid to late 90’s, WCW’s hottest stable was the n.W.o. which originally was started by Hulk Hogan, Scott Hall, and Kevin Nash, and eventually exploded to basically everyone on the roster being in the group. Okay, maybe not everyone, but there was a line that separated those who were team WCW or team n.W.o among the fan base.
In school, you may remember fans rocking their respective teams t-shirts, or possibly standing across from each other in the hallway, arguing which side was better. This divide was extended to who was team WWE or team WCW in support of each promotion, as a whole. Honestly, neither side was cooler; everyone was a nerd, as they argued over why Hollywood Hogan was better than Sting. Meanwhile, the jocks were getting all the girls.
4. The Blood Was Real
Today, blood isn’t used quite as much in matches; in fact, the WWE will actually stop matches to clean up the mess. Back in the day, blood happened much more regularly, and for younger fans, that was real! Not to say the actual blood wasn’t real, but ninety-nine percent of the time you saw blood, it was planned, with the help of a small metal razor to the forehead.
Blood has always been a useful prop to make a match feel excessively brutal, or to get fans to really hate a heel for busting up their hero. Guys like Ric Flair, Dusty Rhodes, and Mick Foley were legendary bleeders, and freaked kids out on the regular with their crimson masks.
3. Good Guys Were Good, Bad Guys Were Bad
A great part of watching wrestling as a kid was believing the faces (good guys) were actually really nice in real life, and the heels (bad guys) were awful, despicable human beings in real life. This obviously wasn’t the case as someone like Shawn Michaels was loved on-screen, but was a bit of a jerk backstage for most of the 90’s. On the flip side, Mark Henry, who was one of the best monster heels, has been quoted as one of the easiest and nicest people to work with by many of his co-workers.
Before the internet, wrestlers could play their on-screen role a bit easier in public, just in case fans saw them out and about. These day, it’s pretty much impossible to stay in-character all the time, destroying the illusion for kids at a much earlier age.
2. Monday Wasn’t A School Night
This is probably a conversation every kid had with their Mom or Dad; “I know it’s a school night, but Monday Night Raw is on!” Because Raw was on, that was a legitimate reason to stay up past your bedtime, there was no way you could miss Doink vs. Damien Demento.
If your parents were in a generous mood, then you got to stay up late, otherwise, you would have to hear the results the next morning, from someone at school. Honestly, being a wrestling fan at a young age made Mondays (which typically sucked) not so bad.
1. It Was All Real
Even though this term has more of a derogatory meaning these days, back then, kids were absolutely one-hundred percent “marks.” A mark is a wrestling fan who enthusiastically believes that pro wrestling is not staged, or loses sight of the staged nature of the business, while supporting their favorite wrestlers. There was no mastermind booker behind the scenes, wrestlers actually felt bad after losing a match, and Miss Elizabeth was an absolute angel that should never, ever, be disrespected.
Everything was authentic, everything was fun, and as an adult, that is sometimes sorely missed. If WWE doesn’t do it for you anymore, try out Chikara or Lucha Underground, both companies tend to lean towards outrageous story-driven content, and do it in a fantastic way.