"You're like the rest of these internet guys! Tweeting and blogging and believing everything you read on the dirtsheets!" -Michael Cole
In the first two chapters of this wrestling fan’s journey (Chapter 1 and Chapter 2) I was a child. I had first become interested in professional wrestling when I was really young, but didn’t really fall in love with the WWF until elementary and early middle school. However, right as I entered 8th grade, a perfect storm of variables was beginning to brew that would create an absolutely obsessed monster of a professional wrestling fan.
CHAPTER 3: THE INTERNET COMETH
1997 - 2003
In the summer before my 8th grade year, my family moved from Cleveland to Jacksonville. I’ve never been particularly comfortable with change, and although I’ve gotten much better at it, I’ve always been extremely nervous meeting and interacting with people I don’t know. So, for much of the first few months of my 8th grade year I would silently get through the school day, waiting for the time to return to the security of home. One of the security blankets I latched on to was my love of the WWF. While everything else was changing, I could count on the year-round season of entertainment the WWF provided. In fact, my mom even started getting a little worried that her son may be forming an addiction, and for a period actually cancelled my WWF magazine subscription. (In retrospect, I can completely understand as her sad panda of a son was not making many friends but would come home and be delighted to read articles about Bob “Spark Plug” Holly.) Thankfully, I was able to break out of my social shell, in large part due to wrestling. I can’t remember exactly how the topic first came up, but I met my first few friends in 8th grade due to our shared interest in professional wrestling.
If they didn’t get behind an evil plumber, a plucky garbage man,
or Bastion Booger, Lord knows they’ll rally behind a fake race car driver.
Only this was Jacksonville. The south. And the group of friends I hung out with were far bigger WCW fans than fans of the WWF. So, I started watching WCW Nitro. This was right before the time that the “Monday Night Wars” erupted. My God it was a blissful time. 5 hours of wrestling every Monday. On WCW, the nWo was just starting to take off, and over on RAW “Stone Cold” Steve Austin had shed the Ringmaster character and was beginning to raise hell. There has absolutely never been a better time to be a pro wrestling fan. This is also the time that ECW started to gain some steam, and I soon discovered that their weekly TV show would air in Jacksonville at 3 AM on Friday night. So, I’d spend the hours between midnight and 3 AM fucking around on-line (and waiting for everyone in my house to go to bed to jerk off to internet porn, scramble porn, or USA “Up All Night“ or “Silk Stockings” before spending an hour in utter amazement at the violence, sex, and cuss fest of ECW, while chomping on a DiGiorno frozen pizza or Buffalo Busters (the greatest frozen food ever created) to eat while watching.
But along with the surge in popularity of wrestling, another medium was taking off as well. The internet.
The internet happened. And it all changed.
The internet took an innocent love of the WWF and transformed it into a full blown obsession. Here was an endless playground of discussion about professional wrestling, pictures, email groups, and role-playing feds.
Yes, for a period of time in late middle school and early high school, I counted myself among those who spent hours “flashing” in an E-fed. (I still have a bunch of the “flashes” I was the most proud of saved on my computer.) I also created a persona on the e-wrestling email group RSPWF of “The Boot” where I posted about how gay e-wrestling was and then watched the hate replies roll in. There was nothing more enjoyable than pissing off e-wrestlers. My characters included Dos Derelicts (a crass, inappropriate, and party-happy tag team made up of Butch and Boner) and “Maniac” Mike Slater (a very Mankind-esque character who burst out of a straight jacket before every match). My friend, Adam, is the one that introduced me to fantasy wrestling. We even created a short-lived fed, the NeWF (National eWrestling Federation).
It’s a tad embarrassing now, but I also created my own pro wrestling web site. It was called “Notorious B.R.I.’s Wrestling World”. People were certainly NOT visiting my site in droves. But I got to make a totally sweet banner:
I believe that the late Notorious B.I.G. would have been supremely proud of a 13-year-old chubby kid using his name to repost internet rumors about Disco Inferno.
I learned HTML to create three different websites on Geocities and Angelfire. One was “The Notorious B.R.I.’s Wrestling World”. Another was for the aforementioned NeWF (National e-Wrestling Federation). The last was a website for the development of the WCW: Thunder video game for Playstation. (For that one, I actually got into a feud with a guy who created a competing WCW: Thunder video game page and ripped my pictures of all the “secret” characters I had discovered, and claimed it as his own.) I also contributed articles for various newsletters, and tried to start my own newsletter called the Slam Sheet, a professional wrestling parody sheet. All of these endeavors were awful.
But mainly what the internet was for was the tons of wrestling news and opinion websites that sprung up. Sites like www.1wrestling.com, www.scoopswrestling.com, www.pwtorch.com, www.iwrestling.com, and so many more lesser news board sites that would just steal news from the internet wrestling celebrities like Bob Ryder, Dave Scherer, Dave Meltzer, and Wade Keller. I spent hours upon hours reading the latest news, opinion articles, and forums.
But the best was Chris Hyatte. For those of you who don’t recall that name, Chris Hyatte was one of the early internet wrestling community celebrities. He wrote a weekly “Mop Up” of RAW (and later did both RAW and Nitro) which was basically a recap of the show, but with far more insider jokes and off-color humor than blow-by-blow recaps of matches. His “Mop Ups” were severely long too. But I read every word of them. I’d copy and paste them into a Word document which would end up being 8 to 10 pages in size 10 font, print them out, and then read them while shitting. He also had a penchant for getting in to feuds with fellow internet wrestling personalities. And he would take these feuds to the limit (posting email exchanges, detailing phone calls with his target that week, and posting personal information about them). It was all fantastically evil fun to read.
As I mentioned before, the internet wrestling community boom happened in conjunction with the explosion of the Monday Night Wars. I would spend every Monday in a constant state of flipping back and forth between RAW and Nitro. Because I would watch these three hours of wrestling in the living room, my parents, brother, and two sisters were subjected to the circus that played out every week. I specifically remember one night when my aunt, uncle, and their two children were in town the night of the “Choppy choppy your pee pee!” incident at the end of RAW where Val Venis was chained up and it appeared that his dick was about to be chopped off. I still remember my dad trying to chuckle and explain how bizarre it all was to my horrified relatives, and my mom trying to save face in front of her shocked family and tell me that I wasn’t allowed to watch RAW again. (I did the next week.)
For the first time ever, I started actually going to see live wrestling too. Since I was living in Jacksonville, WCW came through town far more often than the WWF. So, I went to roughly 4 or 5 Nitros. I got a Sunday Night Heat under my belt when that came to town. The greatest live event I ever attended, however, was a live ECW show. My group of buddies were somehow able to maneuver our way to the very front row, and spent the entire time trying to piss off the wrestlers. Both Justin Credible and Lance Storm literally jumped off the apron to walk over and jaw in my face after I hurled “insider” insults at them like the shitty high school kid I was. (Apparently Justin Credible didn’t enjoy some shitty high school junior telling him how much less successful he was than the other members of “The Cliq”.)
He almost murdered me at an ECW show.
I still have two VHS tapes of Nitro when me and my friends made it on to TV. One is when we stood for the Canadian National Anthem during Lance Storm’s pro-Canada heel run. The other is when Diamond Dallas Page happened to choose to stand right next to us after his exit into the crowd to stop and do the Diamond Cutter “Bang!”. We waited after one of the Nitros to see the wrestlers leave. Jeff Jarrett was a total dick. Kevin Nash, however, was more than happy to talk when we approached the car that he was waiting in along with his then girlfriend, Nitro Girl Chae. Only, it was obvious that he was drunk and on painkillers. After a brief conversation he drove away.
Kevin Nash used to have sex with this. He also apparently
used to drive her around after shows in absolutely no condition to drive.
Yes, this was the golden age of professional wrestling, at least for me. I think most people my age would agree. I actually feel bad for some of the wrestling fan that are too young to have experienced this period of time, or that got into wrestling after the “Monday Night Wars” and the explosion of the internet wrestling community happened.
But as the WWF changed to the WWE and swallowed up WCW and ECW, and as the lure of the internet was replaced by the lure of unsupervised nights of drinking in my first few years of college, I started to lose touch. It was time for a sabbatical.