A close friend once asked me this very question with an air of shame in his voice. I honestly can’t say that I answered him as I was too busy witnessing the Rock stare down Hulk Hogan at yet another sold out Wrestlemania. I guess my ability to zone out when the wrestling is on comes from just years and years of being a fan of the strange and yet somehow (not so) beautiful erm ugh sport??!
You see back in the early 80’s when I was a wee nipper, on Saturday afternoons just after Saturday superstore and before the A-Team, on I.T.V’s World of Sport was Professional Wrestling and not the over the top glamed up wrestling we know today. This was British Wrestling, this was two burly men in leotards, two big sometimes overweight often middle aged men in skin tight lycra, gut barging, eye gauging and head locking their way out of our TV set. The two biggest names of the time were Big Daddy (who my Nan loved and my Granddad knew he could beat) and Giant Haystacks, a scary hairy monster of a man at 6 foot 5 and over 20 stone. Each week these behemoths in spandex would fight in village halls in front of old biddies swinging handbags and chanting “easy easy easy”, etching their legendary rivalry into the history books. Eventually their epic rivalry came to an end when Big Daddy gut barged Giant Haystacks out of the ring and through a table for a ten count making Big Daddy the winner in front of a sold out Wembley arena.
Sadly the wrestling stopped on Saturday afternoons but my love for this uniquely brutal form of entertainment did not die. By the time I got to Primary School most of my friends had acquired cable TV and a new group of heroes. Gone was the argument of “who would win in a fight Big Daddy or Superman?”, no now it was “who would win in a fight, Hulk Hogan or Superman?”. I’d hear playtime stories of Andre the Giant an actual freaky giant at 7 foot 5, The Ultimate Warrior and Hulk Hogan a man with a handle bar moustache, a silky white mullet and skin orange and shiny.
They all seemed way too mythical to be real to me but the stories kept coming. The Biggest story at the time was when Hulk Hogan finally slammed Andre the Giant at Wrestlemania 3, Andre was huge well over 500 pounds (I never realised pounds was weight, I just thought it was a lot of money). Gone were the chants of “easy easy easy” now we chanted “USA USA USA”, We weren’t even American, it made little sense but nothing did and it was fun.
Every playtime we would group together and do “Ible oble black bobble ible oble out” to see who got be Hulk Hogan and one at a time would line up to get slammed on the grass when the teachers weren’t watching. Most the time, in fact every time it would end with someone shouting “Pile On!!” and us in massive heap on the grass laughing and screaming, a teacher would shout “break it up” and we would walk heads down with grass stained knees back to class.
I don’t know if can answer my friends question. I guess pro wrestling is like a man’s version of Coronation Street or Eastenders. You get a bit of a story, a lot of bad acting and some violence – what more do you want? Just take this advice from Hulk Hogan “Train hard, take your vitamins and say your prayers” oh and “What you gonna Doooo, Watcha gonna do Brother when Hulkamania Runs wild on you?”