The man I grew up watching, the man I looked up to and revered as a physical specimen of perfection, the man who dominated WCW and lay waste to dozens of jobbers in his path, the man who was my inspiration to hit up a weight room and start lifting, the man who is well and truly an icon in the history of pro wrestling, finally returned.
Ever since it was made official that he was returning to action on last week’s Raw, his theme has been on my playlist on repeat. I spent the entire week feeding into every single bit of hype the WWE threw at me and made sure I extended the hype to almost everyone around me who I know watches/watched pro wrestling at some point.
I am not sure what is it about the old bastard that hyped me up so much. Was it a piece of my childhood coming back to life, was it the music being played in front of a live WWE crowd one more time or was it just the fact that I would give anything to re-live the Monday Night wars again, I’m still reeling it all in.
But one thing’s for certain. I well and truly marked out.
When he started walking down towards the ramp backstage, amidst cheering wrestlers and backroom staff, he was dressed in a rather humble outfit compared to his former self. It was apparent from the beginning of his entrance that it wasn’t the myth that we were about to see, it was simply a man known as Bill.
Bill, a man who is loved and respected by millions. Bill, who has an adorable family, is humble and soft-spoken, Bill, a man who refers to Michael Cole as “Mr. Cole” and Bill who couldn’t hold his emotions back as he heard his last name being chanted by the thousands in attendance.
This wasn’t the man I grew up watching during my childhood anymore, this was a better man.
I wasn’t at the arena in person. But sitting in the Sportskeeda office with my colleagues, the atmosphere of his return at the Pepsi arena in Denver certainly permeated through the TV set and burrowed into my soul. I, a fully grown man, was left teary eyed and I’m sure that many others were, as well.
The man who was always known for being a stone-hearted icon of brute strength and power could not stop tearing up either. No one can blame him though, the ovation from the Denver, Colorado crowd was mesmerising and fitting for a legend of his stature.
He was given a towel to wipe off the tears, in a moment as emotionally charged and passionate as it could have possibly been.
In attendance were his wife and son. As he pointed out, the two were seeing him live in an arena for the first time. His son Gage, born a few years after his father put a halt to his wrestling career, probably had no real idea what he was about to witness when his dad walked down that ramp.
In many ways Gage, tonight, found out for the first time who his father really was.
It’s like finding out your father is Superman. Except that Superman is merely a fragment of fiction and Gage’s dad is as close as it gets to a superhero in real life. His fights might not be real and the action might be choreographed, but the boy’s dad is a hero to millions, a hero who has inspired and entertained an entire generation of wrestling fans.
I don’t know when the match against Brock Lesnar will happen, but what I do know is that this is the happiest the WWE have made me in a very long time. This man had been gone from action for 12 years, 12 long years where his character and his mannerisms were often imitated. never replicated.
Many came and went, many attempted to get into the skin of the character he championed. While they may have been better physical specimens or even better wrestlers, what they could never reproduce was the energy, the electricity, the mystique and the aura that this man donned throughout his time in the wrestling business.
They all seem like phoney clones in retrospect, compared to the man himself.
I still can’t gather my emotions as I write this, but I want to thank the WWE for letting me relive my childhood, if only for one last match. Bill’s a changed man now and while I’m sure it will reflect in the build-up to this feud, I’m way too happy to spare a lick of care about all that.
I’m just glad that he’s here again. I still can’t believe it. My senses still can’t register that this really happened. He really is back. My speakers blare out his music as I conclude writing this article and only one name continues to resonate.
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