This coming Monday will see the 25th anniversary of Monday Night Raw, closely followed by the annual Royal Rumble. Both events are scheduled to have some names from the history of WWE, legends, former champions and familiar faces guaranteed to have the nostalgic juices flowing within many a WWE fan. To me, this is extra special as I really enjoy harking back to a past era, especially when it comes to my favorite TV shows. I enjoy guest stars on many TV series, cameos in movies and surprises in WWE. I like the feeling of old familiarity it gives us, awaking a long-dormant memory buried deep in the recesses of our subconscious, spilling open a wave of feelings and emotions that bring us back to the last time we saw or heard those familiar faces. It awakens old memories and we see ourselves in our younger years and remember that period of our lives with what surrounded us; our friends, family, schools. The sights, smells and sounds of years past and we will smile, pause to take a moment of reflection and think back on a part of our lives we’d thought forgotten.
I’d like to share with you one of my earliest memories of WWE (it was WWF back then, mind) in the hope that I can be slightly selfish and experience a microsecond of my childhood once more in my mind, and hopefully allow you, dear reader, to experience something similar yourself. Perhaps my memory will trigger something in you, perhaps it will be the key to a memory locked away within your mind? Whatever the outcome, here’s my nostalgic tale:
I never saw the start of Monday Night Raw as a child (I was 12 when Raw started), as my family didn’t have cable or Sky TV (satellite). We had four TV channels and a VCR. Cable had just started to take off, and some of my friends had it. I’d seen snippets of this big, colorful American wrestling show that put the old style British wrestling – that I’d seen as a young boy on Saturday afternoons – firmly in the shade. Big Daddy and Kendo Nagasaki were replaced by Hulk Hogan, The Ultimate Warrior and Sergeant Slaughter. It was incredible to see; so much color, noise and spectacle. My friends assured me that it was ‘fake’, but I didn’t care. My father told me the British stuff was rigged too, but it didn’t stop me from watching.
Then came the sticker albums, figures, posters and the magazines. Everyone it seems, was watching the WWF except for me. Then, in early 1992, my aunt and uncle, who lived two streets away, got a cable box. I saw more of it in their house, but again, only in small doses because my cousin didn’t want to see it and, well, it was my aunt and uncle’s TV, so I couldn’t watch it all the time. They invited me over one day to watch the wrestling and it was going to be a big show. It had taken place the previous day, and the newspapers had big color double-spreads with photographs of this big event at Wembley Stadium –the home of the England national football team. I avoided the spoilers and headed to my aunt and uncle’s with my mum and sister. That was the day I first saw a whole WWF event, Summerslam 1992. The main event; Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart vs The British Bulldog for the Intercontinental Title. History tells us who won, and if you’ve read Bret Hart’s book, how much more incredible that match was, considering what happened behind the scenes.
To this day, the strike of that electric guitar string at the beginning of Bret Hart’s (and even Natalya’s) music sweeps me back to sitting in my aunt’s living room on a carpeted floor. A plate of small hot-dogs nearby with an open pack of own-brand tomato sauce flavored crisps (chips in the US) on my lap. The look of the determined Hitman as he strode down the huge walkway to the ring. The noise of the crowd, the anticipation, the excitement. It hits me every time and I love it. The same rings true to this day when a blast form the past appears on TV. That’s why I’m especially looking forward to WWE’s next two offerings.
We did get Sky TV a few years after Summerslam ’92 and I pestered my parents to get the sports channels so we could watch WWE. Luckily, we were sports fans in our household, so it was almost certain I’d be watching WWE full time. I did and got to watch the tail end of the Monday Night Wars, the Attitude Era and a plethora of PPVs. See, back then, Sky didn’t make you pay for every PPV that was shown. Normally, a Backlash or Hell in a Cell was free. It was just part of the regular programming. As the years went on, they made the traditional ‘big four’ WWE PPVs available to purchase, so a few buddies and I would have Wrestlemania nights every year. It was tough staying awake until 5am, but we made it. I even managed to get to a PPV event in Birmingham, England in 1999 to watch Rebellion. Rock vs Triple H in a steel cage. The noise from the crowd when The Rock came out still gives me shivers. Bulldog was there too, but he ended up screwing up the main event and received an ass-whooping, courtesy of the Rock. I still have the program from that show.
This week, I’m hoping WWE can treat me to some old memories once more. I really hope they give us some surprises that take me back to another time in my life. I want to feel that twinge of excitement in my stomach once more. I want to try and think of the last time I heard that entrance music and what I was doing with my life back then. I want to laugh, I want to smile. Perhaps I might even sit in silence for a second or two as that memory reminds me of a sad time or someone I don’t see anymore. It’s ok if it does, it shows that we care and times change. It’s how we grow and evolve. They’re memories and we should cherish them. I hope to have some old memories evoked in the coming week, and I hope you do too, dear reader.
Enjoy your nostalgic moments, my friends. As always, thanks for reading.