I used to be a huge wrestling fan. I am not ashamed to say I was a mark. Normally I am a pretty quiet guy, but back when I was a wrestling fan I could be known to get a little loud at times. One of the last times I remember marking out was for the return of the Undertaker at Judgment Day 2000. I was there in the crowd when the Dead Man came back after a lengthy absence and I remember going nuts. Sadly, for the mark in me, I wouldn’t be a fan much longer.
I had always dreamed of going to Wrestlemania and seeing the grandaddy of wrestling events. I finally got my chance in 2001 as I flew to Houston to see Wrestlemania 17. I loved every minute of it, but at some point shortly after Mania I started losing interest. The Invasion angle was going on and I know I was hugely disappointed in that and I suppose I just gave up. I slowly forgot about wrestling and didn’t watch any show or pay per view until last summer. What changed? My 6 year old, Charlie, was starting to get into wrestling and I decided I would give it a try.
I never was able to become the wrestling mark I once was, but I did have fun watching it on TV with Charlie. He kept begging and begging to go see it live in person and this past February he finally got his wish. Big Time Wrestling was coming nearby and bringing Ric Flair, Ricky Steamboat, the Rock ‘n Roll Express and plenty of others to the area and I got him tickets to go and take a couple of his buddies.
I donned my 90’s WCW Four Horsemen shirt, picked up the boys, and we headed out on the hour or so drive to a middle school to watch some classic professional wrestling in the intimate style that brings back many wrestling memories of the NWA. I’ve been to Wrestlemania and I’ve been to small shows in high school gyms, and both can be absolutely fantastic. The show Big Time Wrestling put on in Bristol, TN was great and it was the perfect first show for Charlie.
Charlie may not have known who 99% of the wrestlers were but he loved it. All three boys I took were cheering and yelling at the top of their lungs at the good guys while they booed and yelled even louder against the bad guys. I remember doing the same when I was a kid at wrestling shows, but I noticed there weren’t many other loud kids around. We even got some stares and dirty looks as the kids yelled from ringside. I told them to yell as loud as they wanted, that’s what you do at a wrestling show. All three boys with me stood on their chairs and yelled while wearing Rey Mysterio Jr masks and had a great time. Maybe those other kids and their stuffy parents didn’t have fun, but we sure did.
It was great seeing guys I hadn’t seen wrestle in years. Bunkhouse Buck, Jimmy Valiant, Buff Bagwell and plenty of younger guys put on a great show, but the real highlight for me and Charlie was getting in the ring during intermission. Ricky ‘The Dragon’ Steamboat offered to get in the ring for photographs during intermission and was joined by TNA’s Mickie James. We all climbed into the ring and Steamboat and Mickie James were great. They wanted to know if the kids were having fun and Steamboat even let each of us hold his WWE Hall of Fame Ring. It was a real honor to be in the ring with a true legend and to be able to share that moment with Charlie was truly unreal.
Charlie’s first live show, and my first in almost 15 years, was fantastic. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience and it reminded me of why I loved wrestling as a kid. In May I will be taking Charlie to one of the big shows, WWE Payback. Hopefully he’ll love it and have as much fun as he had with Big Time Wrestling. Check back with us this summer and I’ll let you all know how it went!