Monday 30 January 2012

Reverting back to childhood

Do you remember what you were into when you were twelve years old? Are you still into the same things?

I've discovered plenty of new things to be enthused about in the last twenty years, but I'm still very much a fan of the things that I liked then. I still like Sherlock Holmes, I still like Doctor Who, I still like Transformers, I still like comics, and I still like wrestling.

Yes, I'm not kidding about that last one. I'm a huge wrestling fan and have been since I was twelve. I'd heard about Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior and the Legion of Doom and Jake "The Snake" Roberts, and it all seemed very exciting and over-the-top. When my parents got SKY for the first time, I became hooked very quickly.

It's particularly weird getting to do something new with regards to something that's become a big part of your life. It's a bit like when the new series of Doctor Who started in 2005. You kind of start a new relationship with it and it leads you to re-evaluate things a little.

With wrestling, the relationship changed firstly because I started finding out about what went on behind the scenes. It opened up a whole new avenue, as I got to learn that as big and over-the-top as things were on-screen, they were often as petty and sleazy behind the scenes. I was fascinated.

This ended up leading me to the point where I spent a while working as a Ring Announcer for British wrestling, and got to learn a load of the technical side about the shows and got to chat to a lot of wrestlers. It was a little like being a stage-hand for a magician.

But throughout the years, I had never seen Hulk Hogan live. I didn't see much of him as a kid - he was retiring when I first started watching, and he occasionally turned up for very short runs. For various reasons, I hated him with a passion as I began to learn more about the industry, but in recent years (and, not coincidentally, as he's become less relevant), I've begun to appreciate how well he does what he does.

So, strangely, it was the opportunity to see Hulk Hogan live that led to me going to the Impact! Wrestling show at Wembley Arena on Saturday. Even when my fellow London-based wrestling fan friends couldn't make it, and my girlfriend didn't fancy sitting through three hours of wrestling (and who can blame her?).

It was partially in acknowledgement to my twelve-year-old self. The idea that, twenty years later, the things I enjoyed then, I still enjoy now. Not everyone gets why I like it, and that's fine. There are even people that assume that I'm a bit weird because I like it. That's fine too.

Having never seen him, even on television, the twelve-year-old me would have done anything to see Hulk Hogan live. In the same way that I would have done anything to go and visit the set of Doctor Who, or wander around Baker Street.

I don't know if I enjoyed things on a much more simple level then, and if I constantly try to revisit that. I didn't like things in a complicated way. I didn't have any sense of embarrassment of being a fan of things. Maybe it was a more pure enjoyment. Maybe not.

But for one night, Hulk Hogan finished a night of entertainment by shamelessly pandering to the crowd. He ran in to save some goodies from being beaten up, but before he did so, he looked at the crowd. "What should I do?", he seemed to plead as he looked around questioningly. The crowd responded by roaring approval, so he pointed his finger at the baddies, then beat them all up. He went to celebrate with the guy he'd rescued (James Storm), and left him to bask in the adulation of the crowd. But Storm made clear that the crowd wanted to see Hogan. Hogan looked round, as if he was unsure. So we cheered more, and then he ripped off his shirt and posed for us all. For ten minutes straight. And we all loved it.

For one night, I regressed to being twelve years old. The only important thing was that Hulk Hogan beat up the baddies, then invited us all to celebrate with him.

And all was right with the world.

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