A look-back on the crazy world of the WWE from the eyes of a nostalgic fan
As I surfed through my TV channels on a Friday evening after a tiring day at work, I chanced upon ‘World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) Raw’ on Ten Sports. A sudden flashback of yesteryear flashed through my mind. “Those were the days,” I said to myself loudly, like a 65-year-old pensioner. It had been many years since I had watched ‘professional wrestling’ on TV. “You know I used to watch this regularly then,” I told my wife who responded with a ‘huh-uh’. I don’t blame my wife for her nonchalance towards the WWE because like me she hasn’t grown up watching legalised violence that seemed entertaining.
Vince McMahon didn’t just create the WWE (former WWF) but a cult that will be difficult to rival. The formula that made the WWE a success was simple – a ‘world championship’ for either gender which was sought by all the wrestlers, ‘tag team championship’ for wrestling pairs, then there were secondary titles like ‘Intercontinental Championship’, ‘Money in the Bank’, ‘World Heavyweight Championship’, ‘World Hardcore Championship’, etc. With time the names of the titles changed or some of them were merged with others, however, it’s the wrestlers, controversies and scripted scandals that made the difference.
In the ‘Attitude Era’, The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Undertaker, Kane, Ric Flair, Kurt Angle, Triple H, Chris Jericho, Randy Orton, The Big Show and many others who with their traits –be it wrestling, talking, entrance to the ring – made WWE and its viewing absolutely sensational. I mean who wouldn’t like a guy whose entrance music sounds culinary and he justifies that by reducing his opponents to mashed potatoes? Does that ring a bell? “If you smell what The Rock is cooking.” Then there was Stone Cold Steve Austin who was anything but ‘cold’ in his head. He was popularly known as the ‘toughest SOB in the WWE’. You know why? As “that’s the bottom line. Because Stone Cold said so!”
These two gentlemen were very popular and arguably the poster boys of the WWE then but it was The Undertaker who was the X-factor. Clad mostly in a black hat, long overcoat and gloves – ‘the deadman’ was the most feared in the WWE locker room. The dark attire was perhaps a symbol of the dark persona he had. The opponents were scared, shit scared of him. His entrance to the ring sent chills to the spine of the challengers, many of whom lost the battle even before the match begun. An entrance that began with complete darkness in the arena. I as a viewer would often get nightmares of that slow walk of his and the rolling of the eyes in the back of his head. Oh creep. That surely was pant-wetting experience for an opponent. Once in the ring, the scary man would remove his overcoat and his hat. The match would then begin. And the monster did whatever he wanted to.
Barring a few superstars, the scripts would often treat most of the wrestlers good or bad alternately. Triple H was perhaps the most controversial and the perennial villain in the WWE. One would barely see him as a good guy, cheered by the crowd. Why would anyone not boo a man who often used a sledge-hammer from below the ring to thrash his opponents during a match? His pompous, boring rhetoric would annoy people even more and would love seeing his downfall in the ring, no matter who the opponent.