Today we are pleased to welcome our newest contributor Padraic Toolan. In his intro piece, ahead of future contributions, he shares how he got into following the world of professional wrestling. You can also check out his own blog here.
My parents did not let me watch wrestling as a kid. Sometimes, when other kids came over, they would put it on and my parents would tolerate it to be polite to them. I always loved it and was enthralled by it. The first match I ever remember watching was between Ultimate Warrior and Randy Savage, maybe on Saturday Night’s Main Event, and there was so much heel interference for Savage that Warrior’s paint was all but gone, yet he still got the win.
When I would sleep over my Aunt’s house maybe once or twice a month, we would go rent videos from the local video store. I always, ALWAYS picked the same two videos: E.T. and Disney’s Davy Crockett. But one time, I got bold, and picked WrestleMania VI. I was six years old, but she was totally cool with it. I don’t remember much of it at all, other than Rick Rude doing his gyrations and then Jimmy Snuka doing them back, and the reason I remember that is because my aunt and I found it hilarious, so much so that she started doing it too. What I vividly remember is what at the timed seemed like an hour-long match between Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior for the Intercontinental and WWF Championships. I remember Hogan hugging Warrior and giving him the belt. The image never left me, and Warrior became my favorite wrestler.
I did not get to see much after that. I would hear names of wrestlers from friends, like Bam Bam Bigelow, Bret Hart, 123 Kid, Roddy Piper, Demolition, Power & Glory, The Rockers, The Orient Express, and Bastion Booger. I even had a Roddy Piper action figure from and friend, and I remember that it did an uppercut, but I really knew nothing about them. When my neighbor, four years older and much bigger than me, would come down and wrestle me in my living room, he would make me be the heel wrestlers, which I didn’t know at the time. He would convince me they were awesome. So when I told people my favorite wrestlers were The Orient Express, you can imagine the reactions I got, and I had no idea how to defend myself.
In 1996, my best friend Joey invited me to go to his aunt’s house for a WrestleMania party. His entire family were wrestling fans. Amazingly, my parents said yes. And Ultimate Warrior was there! He beat some guy named Hunter Hearst Helmsley. Roddy Piper chased Goldust in a white bronco down the LA freeway. Undertaker had a long and trying match with Diesel. And with the Warrior-Hogan match still fresh in my mind, I amazingly saw a match that topped it: Shawn Michaels beat Bret Hart in an Iron Man match. I had been backing Bret, so I was upset, but I still knew I’d witnessed possibly the best match of all-time. From then on, I couldn’t not watch, no matter what my parents said. I would find a way.
There was no television in my room until I was in high school. So on Monday nights, I would go into my brother’s room, put on Monday Night Raw, and kneel next to the TV with my finger touching the power button for two hours straight in case I heard one of my parents coming. That was every single week for a couple years. That’s how I witnessed the attitude era. As I got older, my parents finally backed off, and were even cool with me going to my first live show, a SmackDown taping in 2002. I was 18 by then of course, but it was still a big deal to have their approval. I wrote about that experience in one of my blog posts.
I started college that fall and tried to follow it the best I could, but slowly it got away from me. I was still watching when my all-time favorite wrestler, and patriarch of my blog, Kurt Angle, lost his title to my second-favorite wrestler at the time, Brock Lesnar, at WrestleMania 19. I wrestled in high school and had a big thing for the real amateur wrestlers. After that, I don’t remember when, but WWE pretty much disappeared from my life. I had no idea of anything that was going on for about 7-8 years.
Fast forward to April, 2012. I was working as a security guard at West Point. I worked the midnight shift, and my days off were Monday and Tuesday (perfect, right?). One Saturday night I had hurt my back, and had to take Sunday night off. It just happened to coincide with WrestleMania 28. I thought you know what, let’s do it. I had no idea of storylines or who some of the wrestlers were, but I enjoyed the hell out of it, and have not looked back since. I’ve been to numerous live shows, culminating in every show over SummerSlam weekend this year, and started a blog that I think has become pretty good. I love and will always love the psychology, athleticism, and pageantry of wrestling. I love the drama, the intrigue, the mysteries, and the swerves. I miss not being able to predict with near certainty what’s going to happen in matches and storylines, but lately WWE has gone back to being more unpredictable. So that’s me and my wrestling story, and I look forward to sharing more of them and more of my love, and sometimes intense dislike, for the WWE product.
And that’s the bottom line.