Saturday, October 10, 2009

Wrestling nostalgia

I've been wanting write this post for a long while now.

Last week was the 10th Anniversary of WWF Smackdown. The show premeired on the old UPN network in 1999, it was a special at first then a regular series later that year. The show as a takeoff of one of The Rock's signature catchphrases, "The Rock is going to lay the SMACKDOWN!"

As a matter of fact The Rock appeared on that show last week. Often Rocky (well Dwayne Johnson who has long retired from wrestling and has eked out a career in motion pictures) would refer to Smackdown as "The Rock's show" because of it's title. There wouldn't be an anniversary show without him.

To be sure however to see him on there gives me a certain nostalgia for how good wresting was 10 years ago. There were plenty of compelling characters that I just couldn't spend a week without. That's what I remember and I miss watching Rock in the ring or even wowing the fans. Surely wrestling fans of the time wished they had the attributes of Dwayne Johnson in those days, if not the athletic talent perhaps his ability to capture the attention of the crowd.

I barely remember the rise of Johnson. At first he was wrestling as a superface Rocky Maivia. But he was caught up in the era of Austin 3:16 (Stone Cold Steve Austin) and eventually the fans were tired of the superface gimmick as Stone Cold was more of an anti-hero character and that really took off with the fans. After being off TV for a good period Rocky Maivia came back to join the Nation of Domination (they were a group of black wrestlers who sported sort of a Black nationalist gimmick). At that time he became The Rock and was thoroughly booed until not only he took over The Nation himself (Ron Simmons aka Farooq was the leader) but the remaining members eventually turned on him. For that he was briefly a face.

Then by early 1999 he became a heel when he joined Vince McMahon as part of the corporation. Oh yeah that was Vince's gimmick, he was the megalomaniac owner of the WWF and the fans hated him. McMahon was in a serious feud with Stone Cold (just so that you know this was all TV not real would you believe anyone could get away with being insubordinate without some repercussions).

Well the Rock joined Vince and his crew but the fans were starting to like The Rock. At one point Rock would sound off his favorite catch phrases and the fans would start repeating him. The Rock would keep stopping telling him that this is not sing-a-long with The Rock, but the fans kept at it and he just kept on moving. Not too long he would become the fan favorite and to many he still was even during his heel turn after he started his film career.

But his appearance on Smackdown reminded me of when wrestling was good. It didn't matter if I was watching the old WCW or ECW there were performers who were worth watching and storylines worth following. Today whether I was in school or even at home during the summers or holidays or even my extended stay at home when I graduated that I could care less about what's going on in professional wrestling. Perhaps one day it will be good once again!

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