A look back at wrestling in the 90s - when WWE was WWF

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Nilanjan Sen

Let me begin this article by asking everyone who started watching wrestling in India in the 90s this question: who was the most recognizable non wrestling personality at that time? For many it was not Vince McMahon, but a gentleman named Todd Patengill.

Todd Patengill who? Well, he was the host of a half an hour WWE (WWF at that time) show broadcast on Prime Sports (later known as Star Sports) in India. Every Sunday afternoon from 4:30 PM to 5:00 PM he was our gatekeeper to the WWE universe. In those 30 minutes we got introduced to Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker and many others.

Since the internet was not around in India that time, we had to wait for Mr. Patengill for weeks just to know the result of a particular pay-per-view match. And to watch the match sometimes we had to wait for months till some friend got hold of the video cassette or till it was available in the movie parlor.

Even watching it on TV had its moment of excitement. For I am sure many like me used to watch it in hiding, making sure our parents did not get to know about it. That's because lots of parents like mine thought it to be real and were sure it would make us violent people.

'Is it real or fake' was a hot topic of debate among us in school that time. It was serious business for us. Hours were spent discussing what a particular wrestler should do to win his next match. Or how such a lovable wrestler could turn his back on the fans.

Once the discussion was done there were even more wrestling-related stuff to do, like playing WWF trump cards (Hulk Hogan used to be ranked 1 in each and every one of them). The first pack of trump cards that was launched was that of a pack of 30, the next 48; the number kept on increasing. The biggest pack I had I think was a pack of 200.

I would say that we in the 90s got to see wrestling in its purest form. We were not aware of the jargon like 'face' and 'heel'; it was just good guy vs bad guy.

We didn’t have to worry about spoilers. The term 'kayfabe' meant nothing to us ,we used to take whatever shown on TV as real. For us at that time, Gorilla Monsoon as the President of the WWF used to run things and Vince McMahon was just a commentator. And for most of us, wrestling meant WWF.

Edited by Musab Abid
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