Editor in Chief Spencer Gleason talks about his fond memories of professional wrestling
As a kid, the World Wrestling Federation (now, World Wrestling Entertainment — or WWE) always captivated me. I remember watching wrestling shows on Saturday mornings and wanting to grow up and be Hulk Hogan, the Ultimate Warrior or Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart. My dad and I would sometimes attend their wrestling events at the old Kiel Center, when they would come to town. I was even lucky enough to attend their Wrestlemania VIII event in Indianapolis, Ind., with my dad, in 1992.
My parents took me out of school for it. And my teacher approved. Those days have since faded — and I look nothing like a wrestler. But still, it’s fun to remember them.
I recently covered a wrestling event — not on the level of the WWE, but a scaled back version at the Stratford Inn. They had all of the pomp and circumstance I remember the WWE having in the late 1980s and early 1990s. But one of the more incredible parts of the evening was talking to the wrestlers afterward — learning about their background and what they wanted to achieve while living a “larger than life” persona.
The most obvious — but maybe the easiest to forget — is that they are people. Husbands with babies, whose forehead they kiss before entering the ring. They are former reality TV show stars, former businessmen and stockbrokers. That’s who gets paid to beat people up on the weekends.
They now travel the country for independent wrestling companies — even traveling to Japan — all for the sake of a chance, at a shot with the WWE. There’s a brotherhood behind that curtain — an unspoken understanding that their opponents lives rests in their hands. And although some punches are pulled, the brotherhood is real.
The night was a moment to live vicariously through my childhood-self.
There are moments like that that sometimes pop up — a “dream life,” once a fantasy, now lost. But sometimes an opportunity for a taste of that life arises. And those tastes should never be passed up.