March 4, 2013 by Ian Goldstein
By Dylan Watton
Throughout my youth I watched professional wrestling. There’s simply nothing like it—it combines athleticism and skilled coordination with entertaining, frequently ridiculous story lines and even more ridiculous characters.
I owned several action figures and relished performing any move that didn’t involve lifting my much heavier brother (sorry, I know I shouldn’t try it at home).
I loved that Stone Cold Steve Austin could get away with telling his boss, Vince McMahon, to kiss his ass; in turn, I loved that McMahon on numerous occasions would pull his pants down right in the middle of the ring and make unlucky wrestlers literally kiss his ass. I loved chair shots and flaming tables, especially when people got hit by or thrown through them.
But around 2005-6, the WWE (the only wrestling promotion I ever followed, as by the time I started watching it was the only game in town) began a precipitous decline in product. Most of the old guard wrestlers—Stone Cold, The Rock, Kurt Angle, etc.— had either retired or seen their skills/story lines go downhill. Any of the new characters they were introducing weren’t sticking with me. Combine all that with a teenager’s attention span, and I just found other stuff to watch.
Fast-forward to today, and I’m back to my roots. I started up again last summer, around the time when Monday Night Raw, the WWE’s flagship weekly show, was celebrating its unprecedented 1,000th episode. I can’t tell you what made me want to start watching again—it could have been just sheer Monday night boredom.
In any event, I was impressed with what I saw. The then-WWE champion, CM Punk, breathed new life into the company by bringing his brash brand of promos and wrestling to the main event, refreshing the the cliched, too-kid-friendly scene before it.
Slowly but surely, the rest of the roster improved their game also, from the technically brilliant Daniel Bryan (now a tag-team champion with long-time wrestler Kane) to The Shield, the best stable (group of wrestlers) WWE has produced in years. The product, so long lacking anything or anyone interesting, is once more gripping, edgy, and, most importantly, entertaining.
WrestleMania 29, the company’s marquee event being held at MetLife Stadium this year, is now just five weeks away, and it’s shaping up to be a great show. The main event will be a repeat of last year’s matchup between The Rock (who returned at January’s Royal Rumble and won the WWE Championship from Punk) and John Cena, only this time it will be the championship. Punk’s match is currently undetermined but rumor has it that he will face a returning Undertaker. Triple H, being groomed as McMahon’s real life successor, will most likely take on WWE superstar-turned-UFC-champion-turned-WWE-superstar Brock Lesnar. More matches will be added as the event draws near.
Wrestling was a part of my childhood, and now that WWE has once again put an entertaining product on television, I’m glad that I’m watching again. WrestleMania should be a blast this year.