More than any form of entertainment, professional wrestling is defined by generations. Every holiday season proves how movies can be timeless, and music can inspire future musicians. While there are some matches that hold up well over the years, the actual sport of wrestling seems confined to a particular time. It is one of those kooky things longtime wrestling fans just accept.
This has led to a common misconception. Many will insist that every fan’s favorite era of wrestling is the one they grew up with. (This is also a convenient way to explain why someone has a different opinion.) I do not think this is the case. I know plenty of people who started watching wrestling in the late 1980s and early ’90s, and not one of them talks fondly about the WCW mini movies or Men on a Mission.
I started watching pro graps regularly when I was around five years old. Until my late thirties, there was never a time when I took more than a week or two completely off from the sport. During that time, I saw it all. I watched the two biggest wrestling booms ever, I was lucky enough to see some of the greatest of all time like Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, The Rock, and Steve Austin live, and I even saw a time when there were legitimate tag team divisions in multiple promotions.
I also saw a lot of bad. The New Generation, the tragedies of World Class, and whatever the hell WCW was trying to do with Halloween Havoc. Through it all, I stuck with the sport. I never complained about indie mud show wrestling and even got a chance to attend a Battle of Los Angeles live. It was not a conscious decision I had made. I just kept on watching and enjoying it.
It was never hard to be a fan; my tastes simply evolved with the times. I was thrilled by the matches between the Young Bucks and Future Shock. I enjoyed watching the once-great New Japan come back from Inoki-ism. I consider the first season of Lucha Underground one of the most fun episodic wrestling shows I have seen. Things may not have been as great as they once were, but there was still a lot to enjoy.
I also understood that tastes have changed dramatically. The Ricky Steamboat – Randy Savage match at WrestleMania III is one of the greatest matches of all time, and is the precursor for the matches that have 56 kickouts that people love today. And yet, it is hard to find a fan today that thinks there is anything special about the Mania classic.
Even more surprising were opinions on the Steamboat/Ric Flair Holy Trinity from 1989. Not only do modern fans hold up the Kazuchika Okada/Kenny Omega series to it, to my amazement some fans find the Flair/Steamboat matches boring. If there’s ever been a series of timeless matches, it was Flair/Steamboat. For the first time, I felt the sport had passed me by. It was not long after that I just stopped caring about happened. And just like that, I stopped watching.
(When I say “stopped watching”, I should clarify. I still follow occasional news bits and every weekend I have a watch party with some friends. I guess it is more correct to say I don’t follow modern wrestling regularly.)
As the years progress, I have become less interested in the sport. The Fiend is the absolute dirt worst character, act, wrestler, whatever I have ever seen in my decades of watching wrestling. Bayley and Sasha Banks being ranked in the top PWI tag teams would be awesome if it did not expose the astounding lack of depth in the division; the constant sexual misconduct charges are frightening and disgusting.
Despite it all, there is a part of me that will always follow professional wrestling. It would be neat to see Roman Reigns battle The Rock at WrestleMania. The idea of wrestlers finally standing up to Vince McMahon is as exciting as it is unrealistic. I would love to see another wrestling boom. I doubt I will ever watch wrestling like I did before; I am not sure I even want to. But despite all the silliness, ugliness, and malaise that surrounds it, I will always love professional wrestling.
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