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One Monday Night in October ‘97 and My Love of Wrestling

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One moment in time explains it all

Allow me to now introduce myself, my name is...Marcus Benjamin. I’ll be sharing my thoughts with you twice a week here on Cageside Seats until someone tells me I can’t anymore, or the world ends, whichever comes first. Judging by the way things are going, my money is on the latter.

Anyway, Sean suggested I write something about me and wrestling. Basically, a little dissertation on why I’m a fan, how long have I been a fan, and what keeps me coming back. Simple, right?

But then I started writing, and I didn’t like a single thing I put down. Even starting the feature with a Goodfellas reference didn’t stop it from being basic, and while I may be a lot of things, basic isn’t one of them. The truth is, it’s tough to explain why I love this thing Vince McMahon wants us to call sports entertainment.

Or so I thought. Then this clip popped up in my head:

Let’s break it down (pun very much intended), shall we? My favorite version of my favorite wrestler of all time, Shawn Michaels, operating at peak performance. Then, there’s Bret Hart, another favorite of mine, walking the line between heel and face in a way only Bret could at that time.

Add the fact the the two of them were knee-deep in a feud so real, the crowd never knew what was scripted, and when they both decided to cross a line. Plus, it’s Attitude Era content, and that’s just catnip for this ‘90s kid who fell hard for wrestling way back in 1995.

What Shawn, Bret, Triple H, Chyna, and everyone else involved in that angle did was create magic. At its best, wrestling makes you question reality. I wasn’t an 11-year-old who thought these men and women were hurting each other, but I believed in the characters and understood the fight was just part of the dance they did to settle their issues.

If the wrestling is backed up by a dope story, I’m hooked. That goes for real-life personality clashes like Bret and Shawn or people like Jon Moxley and Kenny Omega doing it for the spirit of competition

Wrestling has changed over the years just like I have. Sometimes it’s complicated with intricate storytelling. Sometimes it’s disturbing. Sometimes it tries too hard to be funny, but every now and then, it actually is. But what keeps me coming back is that feeling I had watching my favorite wrestler proclaim to the world just how much of a degenerate he was. All while talking a whole lot of shit to shit to the man he hated most.

It comes back every once in a while, and when it does, what a rush.