My boyfriend loves wrestling. LOVES it. To a degree that I wouldn’t have known existed before I knew him. When I first met him and he mentioned wrestling my response was “I think I’ve flipped past that on TV? Do people actually watch that?”
They do. Oh boy, do they. I don’t exactly know who Rick Flair is but I know that I made a robe so my boyfriend could dress up as him to go to a show. Not for Halloween, to attend an event. I have a picture of him in that robe waiting in line at Quiznos framed on my desk. Once I learned to stop worrying about it, I realized that wrestling in essence is silly, and ultimately harmless. Being a wrestling fan is not something that ever goes away entirely. So learn to love it, or live with it. Besides, if your boyfriend is going to have a hobby, he could be into something worse, like hiking.
I’ve been to a couple shows with him and they’re actually fun for the first 45 minutes or so. You get to see some fancy outfits and some people jumping around like lunatics. I won’t lie, after that initial rush I start checking my watch and thinking about what I’m going to get at the snack bar, but at least I’m not hiking.
On a whim I decided to tag along with him to a show last night. He gave me a funny look and said “This isn’t a WWE show” like I was supposed to know what that means. I understand that now for the warning that it was. What I learned is that the wrestling you see on TV is just the tip of the wrestling iceberg. There’s an entire iceberg-butt of minor league of wrestling that exists all around you, invisible and hidden from the normal world.
It made sense once I stopped to think about it. Wrestlers don’t just spring out of the ground in their man panties covered with baby oil ready to go. They have to learn somewhere. And they learn in places like the El Maida Shrine. There were 179 people in the crowd. I know there were 179 because I counted them. I was the only girl there aside from a middle-aged woman who was there to wrangle her kids instead of watching the matches. Usually at a wrestling show I can find some other girlfriends to make eye contact with and give them a “men, huh?” nod.
I said to my boyfriend that I was so embarrassed for the wrestlers because there were hardly any people there and he told me that it was a good crowd for an “indy” show. Then he started harping on me again about how I need to watch the Mickey Rourke movie about wrestling and I mostly tuned him out.
It seemed so very shabby compared to what you see on TV. The costumes and the music and the pageantry was largely missing and more than a little laughable when it was there. When you go watch minor league hockey it still seems like hockey, just on a smaller scale. This was more like when you take your little cousin and his friends to the ice-skating rink and they fall down all over the place pretending to play hockey. I am 99% sure that the second guy that came out works at the quick lube place down the block from our apartment. I think I stood behind him at the ATM once.
There was no 45 minutes of excitement here but I was fascinated in a different way. I can’t lie, some of it was the way in which I watch trainwreck reality TV, but some of it was wondering what these people’s stories are. Will any of them ever make it to the WWE? Do they all think they will? If they don’t, why are they doing it? I would love to talk to one of them and hear what their motivation is.
There were some masked Nacho Libre guys that came out and did some competitive cheerleader moves at one point but other than that it was pretty boring. I saw my boyfriend sneaking looks at me a couple times like you do when you recommend a movie to someone that turns out to suck. Don’t worry, I still love you.
But then the main event happened. Two Mexican wrestlers came out first with masks and matching outfits. They were father and son which is cool. My boyfriend told me that the father was a big deal in Mexico but rarely comes to America and that’s why he came to the show.
And then two women came out. One of them was dressed like an escaped convict only with the arms and belly cut off to show off her muscles. She was more ripped than any of the guys I saw that night. She had a smirk on her face that was glorious. She was giving zero Fs and I loved it.
She was tall but her tag team partner was a couple inches taller still. She was dressed like a UFC fighter woman and she was built like one too. You know that UFC type where their body just seems like one big twisted muscle all the way up? She was like that only she also had scars on her legs and body and chest. I don’t normally like to use the “B” word but what came to mind was that this was one tough bitch.
The convict was wearing gloves but this other one just had tape on her hands like a boxer – written on one with magic marker it said “Unfabulous” and on the other it said “Unladylike”. The hair stood up on the back of my neck just looking at them. These two women looked like the most dangerous people on the entire show. The convict’s name was just a number, like 477752 or something, and I think the other woman was announced as Grace.
As they walked down to the ring, a guy in ripped cargo shorts and an XXXL Avengers shirt leaned out and said “I’m not afraid of you!” and Grace said back to the guy “You don’t need to be afraid for me to beat your ass, buddy. Your life is so pathetic I get a charity tax write-off just by being on this show.” Brutal. Hilarious.
What happened next was the greatest wrestling match in the history of the world. Levitation? Check. Mystical fog? Check. Demonic snarling and Exorcist-level flailing super freak out? Check. At one point Grace pulled a magic staff out of thin air and did some Gandalf “you shall not pass” epic shouting. And then she sprinkled the senior masked Mexican wrestler with 11 special herbs and spices as part of a ritual to cast the spirit out of him.
Remember when Charmed did a wrestling episode? Remember when Supernatural did a wrestling episode? Remember when Angel did a wrestling episode? Remember when Grimm did a wrestling episode? This was way better than any of that. I give credit to whoever was in charge of the effects because I didn’t see anyone holding a smoke machine by the ring or anyone hauling on ropes to a harness or anything. Like a good magic trick, I have no idea how they did it.
I was losing my mind cheering during all of this. It was like a live action Marvel movie. My boyfriend was staring at me like I was insane. Looking around, it didn’t seem like anyone else in the crowd was into it. I can’t understand why. It was awesome. I don’t know why those two don’t dress like witches and call themselves the Wicked Ones or something. In the end, the evil demon was banished from the mortal plane and everyone was happy. Well not the people watching, but I was.
On the drive home I was looking up clips of magic happening in wrestling. I saw a large man wearing a ton of eyeliner shooting lightening at people. I saw a little girl in pigtails and overalls hypnotizing people. I saw another big dude in a mask setting people on fire. I had no idea this kind of stuff happens in wrestling. I asked my boyfriend why they don’t do this kind of stuff all the time and he gave me a curmudgeonly answer about how it ruins the suspension of disbelief.
“But everyone knows it’s fake” I said.
“This is different” he grumbled.
It is different, it’s wonderful.