‘A Mark’s Eye View’ is a weekly look at some of the things that made my a huge fan of professional wrestling until one day I realized I just did not care anymore.
My earliest memory of professional wrestling involves Gino Hernandez. He passed away within a week of when I started watching and I was convinced Chris Adams had legitimately murdered him. From there I would watch Mid South Wrestling and the occasional NWA show. I was five years old and it was real and exciting so I would watch it whenever I had the chance.
One night I was spending the night at a friend’s house. It was 1986 and we were watching some show called Saturday Night’s Main Event. It was the the WWF, which I really did not care for — I thought they were all wimps. Most of them looked like they had fake muscles, few of them did much aside from punch and kick, and the matches were too short. On top of that, there was never any blood.
I watched as Hulk Hogan wrestled some guy named the Magnificent Muraco. Over 30 years later, I don’t remember the details of the match, but my friend was really into it. He loved the Hulkster. At the end of the match, King Kong Bundy ran in and attacked Hogan. He squashed the champion in the corner with a series of avalanches and cracked his ribs. My friend was in tears.
Months later, Hogan was still WWF Champion after disposing of Bundy at WrestleMania 2. Hogan and his best friend “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff were having troubles getting on the same page. Over the weeks, segments played out in which Hogan would constantly turn his back on Orndorff. Hogan would not take Orndorff’s calls and would not so much as interrupt a training session when “Mr. Wonderful” tried to prove to the heels that he and Hogan were buddies. I began to think that this Hulk Hogan guy was pretty mean.
In the summer of 1986, Orndorff finally pulled the trigger and gave a piledriver to Hogan right into the mat. Afterwards, Orndorff went to the bad guys’ locker room. He was surrounded by cheers and chants of his name. This was all he ever wanted. He simply wanted to be accepted.
That afternoon I became a wrestling fan for life. In actuality, there really wasn’t much to it: Orndorff was jealous of Hogan and turned on him. As a kid, I took it as Hogan being a bad friend and Orndorff deciding it was time to move on. What it boiled down to was I simply enjoyed the way story that was told.
Since then I have romanticized the entire angle. Poor writing made Hogan out to be a jerk, and there probably was no intention of making it seem like Orndorff finally found the friendship he was looking for. But over the years, it turned out the Hulkster was a jerk in real life and when storytelling became more important, it was an easy spin to put on the whole thing. And one thing did not have to be exaggerated at all: at the culmination of that angle, I knew I would be a professional wrestling fan forever.
That Saturday, I knew that I discovered something special. Whether it was the wimps of the WWF, the real wrestlers in the NWA, or the tough guys of Mid South/UWF, I was going to pay close attention to pro wrestling. I did not realize how far that passion would take me.
Next week: A look at Von Erichs, Freebirds and confusing DQ rules.
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