I am your fairly typical thirty year old combat sports fan. Born in 1984, I became hooked on wrestling at the age of 6, thanks to renting old WWF PPV tapes and WCW Saturday Night. Sitting on the edge of my parent’s bed, I’d stare in awe of "The Man They Call Vader" and that scary, yet awesome, helmet he wore to the ring. Eventually Monday Night Raw stole my Monday Nights in which I would have to beg Mom to let me stay up and watch the whole show.
Damn school nights.
Wrestling stuck with me right up through high school. Even when we moved to a house that was without cable for multiple years. I missed much of the Attitude/Monday Night Wars era during this time, but kept up thanks to friends and AOL. From senior year of high school until about my second year of college (2001-2004), I had a small group of friends that were dedicated to wrestling. We gathered all the time for Raw and every single PPV.
Wrestling was all I knew, until April 9th, 2005.
Down in my friend’s basement, a large group of us were playing poker on his custom made poker table, cup holders included. On his very tiny TV these two men are beating the shit out of each other. You may know them; Forrest Griffin and Stephen Bonnar. This fight was so ridiculous, it stopped our poker game, we gathered entirely too close to each other and watched the fight take place. Like many of you, my friends and I became intrigued by what we saw.
"Why haven’t we watched this before?" Someone asked.
Over that next year, my circle of wrestling friends grew very small thanks to work or college. So in light of this change, I tried UFC with a new group of guys and gals and ordered our first PPV; UFC 60: Matt Hughes vs. Royce Gracie. Two things I remember from this PPV; first, my undying fandom of Melvin Guillard started here, thanks to his first round KO punch of Rick Davis. Second, how I actually thought Gracie had a chance against Hughes. Gracie lost in the first round via TKO punches…hey, I was new to the sport.
Over the next 5 years, MMA took over as my number one obsession. I would tune into every show, every interview, every Luke Thomas rant, and every article on MMA Mania, Bloody Elbow, and (R.I.P.) Watch Kalib Run. I mean just look at my friggin' SB Nation username, it's a pretty obscure UFC Ultimate Fighter reference. Obviously UFC was my main focus, but even the competition would get me to tune in, damn you Kimbo Slice. I kept tabs on what went on in wrestling, but the product didn’t capture much of my attention during this time.
Eventually life happened and I planned a move to a different state to be with my fiancé. Two weeks before the move this thing happened; something about a pipe bomb and Colt Cabana. Again, like many of you, that legendary promo snapped me right back into wrestling. Suddenly I cared again about Monday nights. I moved away, kept up again with the backstage news, and purchased every PPV with my fiancé. I had no WWE or MMA friends now, yet wrestling was winning the battle decisively.
MMA became less interesting to me from then on. Maybe it was the lack of competition for the UFC, the rise in decisions (nearly 50%), or the eventual addition of lower weight-classes. I do know, from a fan’s perspective, since signing with Fox, UFC’s watered-down cards have lessened my interest. From what I remember before, shows today don’t feel "must-see" anymore. I am now back around those same MMA friends, yet wrestling is still winning the battle! We skip so many UFC events now, and most times I don’t feel like anything was missed.
So why is wrestling winning now? In 2013/2014 pro wrestling, overall, has been amazing. The Wyatts, Shield, Bryan, HHH/Stephanie, NXT, and yes, even Cena, have all brought their A-game. The addition of the WWE Network has been fantastic for me to watch basically anything. Finally, this site, as a commenter and contributor has been a huge reason for my re-connection. Sometimes though I do think it's kind of weird to entering my thirties and be totally into this stuff, but then I see Bray Wyatt cut a promo, and all is right in the world...the whole world.
Pro wrestling is the best.