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  • Writer's pictureWillow Raven

Love of Wrestling Origin Story

I've often been asked how I first got into wrestling, but the truth is that I don't have a clear answer. I don't have a defining match - hell, I don't even remember most, if any, of the matches I watched when I was younger.

What I do remember is spending hours pretend-wrestling with my best friend - we didn't actually ever fight each other, we just pretended to be different wrestlers. I'd usually be The Undertaker, putting my hair in front of my face, rolling my eyes back, and pretending to hold up an urn. I remember writing a story about how Shawn Michaels and I were going to get married on Mars when I was 5 because he was my first crush (he's still the reason I have terrible taste in men, I'm convinced of it.) I remember crying my eyes out when Papa Shango came out at a local house show my dad took me to. I was so scared of his eerie music, shrunken head, and all the smoke that filled the room; in fact, I was hysterical. My dad had to take us out of the building because I couldn't calm down, thinking it was all real. We missed the main event featuring Macho Man vs Razor Ramon (one of my favourites! I've always loved the heels) and my dad vowed to never take me to another wrestling show.

Those are the things I remember about watching wrestling as a kid. No one knows how I got into it; no one in my family watched. The best I can assume is that, as a Francophone kid living in a mostly anglophone-media based town, it was one of the few things on TV I didn't need to know the words to to enjoy. Which is funny, thinking back, because what I've always loved most about wrestling is the stories. Don't get me wrong, I love the athleticism involved and am forever in awe that people can make their bodies do what they do, but the promos, the build ups, the drama - that's what's always managed to pull me back in.

I stopped watching during the Attitude Era, maybe one of a few kids who actually seemed to lose interest during that time instead of getting into it. I still remember a lot from that time even though I didn't watch most of it because it was truly part of pop culture at the time - every kid in our school had that Austin 3:16 shirt and the boys would yell "Suck it!" at each other all the time at recess, to the point where a memo had to go around condemning its use on school grounds.

I got back into wrestling when I was 16. I started dating this guy who was older (aren't they always...) who was really into wrestling. I'd go over to his apartment and watch it with him and his roommate. The first episode I watched when I first went over was the tribute episode to Eddie and it reminded me how much of an emotional experience wrestling can be. I still watch tribute episodes, hall of fame induction videos or retirement speeches when I need a bit of a cry.

Eventually I moved away to university and didn't have cable anymore. I never thought to stream or download wrestling, so I just stopped watching it. That is, until I became friends with someone who's now one of my closest pals. He used to host PPV watch parties at his place every few months (y'know, pre-pandemic). I went over to relive some nostalgia for Wrestlemania 31. Rusev's tank, the zombie scarecrows for Bray Wyatt's entrance, Seth cashing in the Money in the Bank contract in the main event. There was so much energy, so much spectacle, it got me hooked again. It didn't hurt that my friend told me there was an entire show dedicated to following the lives of the female wrestlers on the roster. I was absolutely hooked on Total Divas and Total Bellas and I wanted the chance to cheer on these women I had been getting to know on TV.

The internet, podcasts, streaming - it all contributed to having easier access not only to wrestling itself, but to other fans I could connect with, to information on backstories that I had missed out on, to the behind the scenes world via wrestlers' social media (SIDEBAR: Any performer that relies on fan support for their livelihood and doesn't work the social media game is doing themselves a disservice. I've bought merch from wrestlers I've never even seen wrestle (what up, RJ City) simply because I wanted to support them as a person thanks to their "real life" aka online personality.) All of these things has helped deepen my love for wrestling so much more over the past few years (especially going to live shows, which will be a topic for another blog).

So I'm hoping to write semi-weekly (I don't know if I can do weekly oop) about wrestling in some capacity, whether it be about my experiences at shows, my favourite moments, highlights on some of my fav promotions, who knows! But hopefully you'll enjoy reading my thoughts!

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