In 1997 I watched Bret Hart take on Steve Austin with Ken Shamrock as the special referee at WrestleMania 13 and from the moment I saw that match I was absolutely hooked on pro wrestling.
Every Monday I watched WWF’s Monday Night Raw and throughout the week I tuned into Shotgun Saturday Night, Sunday Night Heat, LiveWire, and anything else they produced. At the time I was only nine years old, but I was drawn to the brewing attitude with D-Generation X, middle fingers from Stone Cold Steve Austin, the trash talking of Rocky Maivia, and the scariness of Mankind, Kane, and The Undertaker. I had never witnessed anything so cool.
Favorite Wrestler of the Attitude Era: The Roaddogg Jesse James
Favorite Tag Team of the Attitude Era: The Hardy Boyz
I spent a good portion of the 90s with my childhood friends Drew, Jacob, and Mike watching wrestling, playing with our Bone Crunching Action figures, and wrestling each other on our trampolines. As the “Attitude Era” of WWF brought in more hardcore matches, blood, and adult situations, I was introduced to Extreme Championship Wrestling.
By the time I caught wind of ECW it was early 1999 where WCW and WWF were picking off their roster left and right. I was able to collect the whole set of the ECW OSFTM toyline and every episode of ECW on TNT on VHS from someone on eBay. I became a diehard for ECW’s characters, their technical wrestling, the high flyers, and Spike Dudley getting thrown through everything.
Favorite Wrestler from ECW: Tommy Dreamer
Favorite Tag Team from ECW: The Impact Players
As a wrestling fan pre-dirtsheets, I knew something was brewing behind the scenes. Mike Awesome left for WCW, Taz left for WWF, and numerous other wrestlers were jumping ship. I never started watching WCW until this time as it was always WWF vs. WCW and WWF was just so much cooler. I will admit, I watched the worst version of WCW, but that didn’t last very long as in 2001 they were bought out by Vince McMahon and essentially shutdown, along with ECW.
Favorite Wrestler from the end of WCW: Ric Flair
Favorite Tag Team from the end of WCW: The Filthy Animals (Rey Mysterio, Billy Kidman, and Konnan)
I kept on, with the newly named, “WWE” yet again even though I felt this was the worst era in their history (at the time). We got some great feuds with Triple H, The Rock, Big Show, Steve Austin, and Chris Jericho, but my favorite time ever in WWE was when Paul Heyman ran Smackdown in 2002 and launched the careers of a the “Smackdown Six” (Chris Benoit, Edge, Eddie Guerrero, Kurt Angle, Chavo Guerrero Jr, and Rey Mysterio).
Favorite Wrestler of the Smackdown Six: Kurt Angle
Favorite Tag Team of the Smackdown Six: Los Guerreros
Around the same time as this, there was a weekly PayPerView show called “Total Nonstop Action” (TNA) that pulled me away from WWE.
This is the end of Part 1. I have so much about wrestling to talk about and share, including the time I met Chris Benoit, I trained with The Dudley Boys, and the time I got a concussion while wrestling Alonzo Alvarez.
Shoutout to Ruby Raze, the first person I ever had a full match with. I can’t believe she isn’t signed to a major. She is so talented, can build solid matches, and hits so god damn hard. One of my favorite people I met in the business, and one of my biggest supports in the hardest time of my life.