Like many young boys who grew up in the 1980s, I watched professional wrestling, mainly of the WWF variety. Yes, it was the “World Wrestling Federation” back then before the other WWF, the “World Wildlife Fund” forced the entertainment company to change it’s name to WWE.
I wasn’t a fan of wrestling at first. A lot of my elementary school chums were quite into it before I was, throwing their support behind their favourite wrestlers. Nearly every day there was some sort of debate at recess and/or lunch hour about who had the better finger-four move or who had the better manager.
Eventually, the talk and my curiousity led to me to watch one of the syndicated WWF shows. It took a while but I was entertained by the theatrics of the sport. Much later on, I realized that it was essentially a soap opera drama packaged in a format that was palatable for boys of school age. I was never an over the top fan of wrestling. For example, several of my classmates would go to WWF shows that would come into town. I never bothered with that but that didn’t stop me from eagerly awaiting several episodes of Saturday Night’s Main Event.
For wrestling fans of that era, the most highly anticipated event each year was of course the Wrestlemania. It was the Stanley Cup finals of wrestling. Wrestlemania had the most outrageous storylines and it was there you could count on shocking title matches. The weekly shows were nothing compared to the big event. It was also a Wrestlemania that caused me to stop watching wrestling altogether.
Sometime in 1988, Wrestlemania IV came out on home video on VHS videotape. Since I did not watch it on pay-per-view, I decided to rent it, not knowing the card or the schedule of events. Little did I know that the running time for the tape was about four hours. I like to think I had a lot of patience as a kid but I was no match for Wrestlemania IV .
About two hours into the tape, I was getting mentally fatigued. How long was this thing? How could they possibly drag this on any further? At one point, I stopped the tape and took out of the VCR to look at the running time on the sticker. It was then I realized I had just under two more hours to go. It was also then that I realized this was the heaviest VHS tape I had ever handled. By this time, my parents had made dinner and I had to go eat it.
After returning from my meal, I played the tape again. I got through another twenty minutes before I finally had enough. I stopped the tape, rewound it, and put it back in its case. It was returned without any more subsequent viewings. I never watched wrestling on TV again from that day forward. I essentially outgrew it and got tired of it in a single, fateful day. It was like when someone forces you to smoke a billion cigarettes in a sitting to get them to quit.
I wonder sometimes if and when I would have stopped watching wrestling. Perhaps I’d still be watching today. Would that even be possible? Who knows? Maybe I’d still be a passionate fan today, just like this guy.