To call a regular office day at the Clipper’s editorial department “normal” is a slight understatement.
Take for instance, the discussion I wanted to have about writing up something that you, the reader, might enjoy in this column, rather than reading the first few paragraphs before moving on.
Discussions came up about the difference between the wrestling locals know at the high school and college ranks, and how, from a fan’s perspective, they differ from the “wrasslin’,” as one of us called it, a lot of people see on TV.
As a fan of one and former fan of the other, I’ve had the opportunity to witness first-hand the discernible difference between the two, and wanted to share that with you this week.
I want to quickly get it out of the way that, in fact, high school and college wrestling is a far more enjoyable experience than the stuff I used to watch on TV.
My reasons are aplenty, and I’ll start with my most obvious. On any given match night, that pits one school’s grapplers against another’s, you can see as many as 14 matches with 28 atheletes fighingt for about six minutes per match, not including overtimes.
Given any breaks in between, a normal fan of either high school or college wrestling can look forward to as much two hours of near non-stop action.
Second is the skill level it takes to compete at such a high level. I myself wrestled in junior high school when my family and I lived in North Carolina. As a seventh-grader just barely learning the ropes, I endlessly got what was coming to me by students who, by comparison, were much quicker and stronger than I was.
In the end, I finished my wrestling career with just two wins (one by forfeit), and never set foot on a mat again.
Now I don’t want to knock ALL the professional wrestlers seen on TV. Some of them have skilled backgrounds in wrestling, and in order to continue wrestling may have had to resort to joining one of the few professional TV circuits such as the WWE.
But sitting in as a fan to watch the differing styles of wrestling is, well, a 180-degree turn as far as the overall experience.
My one and only professional wrestling event came when the family and I lived in Salt Lake City in the mid-1980’s. As many who watched TV wrestling would know, names like Hulk Hogan, Rowdy Roddy Piper and Andre the Giant immediately come to mind.
On that day we ended up sitting the highest of nose-bleed seats inside the formerly called Salt Palace, surrounded by smokers and drinkers who were much more interested in bashing each other’s heads in than watching what was going on inside the ring.
It wasn’t until three hours later, when Hogan squared off against Ravishing Rick Rude, that the same crowd went from disorderly and inattentive to being some of the best fans in the whole place.
Perched atop my dad’s shoulders, it was easy to see, and hear, who the crowd was cheering for as Hogan pinned Rick Rude in the forever-famous “one-two-three” chant from the crowd.
We all left the Palace happy, but I’ll never forget the smell of that place from the time we got there to the time we left.
At that time, professional wrestling was still considered more of an outing than a drama-fest.
I can remember watching three hours of Monday Night Wrestling, which replaced Monday Night Football for a long time in my house, as one match after another filled the time with great matchups and great matches.
Now, it seems, that watching three hours of the same show yields maybe a handful of wrestling matches that last 10 minutes, and a lot of over-the-top chest pounding, trash-talking, “I’m gonna beat you to a pulp” type of drama that should be saved for shows like The Young and the Restless and NCIS.
So in three hours of “professional wrestling,” I get five matches that may last 10 minutes and an “I’m gonna beat you up at our match in three months that people have to pay $60 to watch” speech?
I’ll stick to being a fan of the high school and college wrestling. At least at those levels, wrestlers respect each other both on and off the mat.