People are often confused when I tell them I am a complete fan of professional wrestling. I follow story lines. I read editorial columns, news articles and pick up the occasional magazine. I get excited when certain entrance themes play. I own a couple of t-shirts. I know it is scripted. I know there are rules, and just like any other sport, I know there are consequences. I have my favorite Faces (“good guys”), Heels (“bad guys”), and gimmicks I still get excited about. I get mad when commentators discuss everything but the match and depending on who is speaking on the mic, I may chant obscenities with the crowd as a sip my beer, whip up dinner, wash my dishes or fold my laundry. I am more a fan of professional wrestling than of baseball and basketball combined. While I need to watch those games live or I am bored to tears, I can enjoy wrestling live or in the comfort of my own home. Today’s Friday Five merely taps the bottom rope, and this girl is a high flyer.
Q1: When did you truly start watching Professional Wrestling?
A: As a kid, my cousin would watch WWF with his buddies, and I would catch glimpses of it from time to time. It wasn’t until my senior year of undergrad that I religiously watched WWF’s Monday Night RAW & WCW’s Monday Nitro weekly with the two channels programmed on the recall button on the remote. I was a resident assistant at the time, so when I wasn’t studying or working part-time (yes, I had two jobs), I would continuously flip back and forth during the famed Monday Night Wars. Then I graduated and left Gainesville, so it wasn’t until about 2009 (when I returned from Japan) that I started watching again. When I started flying, I would regularly have Monday nights off, so RAW quickly became part of my day off routine. It then snowballed from there and now I watch wrestling three nights a week as part of my relaxation time.
I love Luchas. I love Lunches. I love sandwiches. (shirt: Deli Fresh Threads)
Q2: Have you ever been to any live shows?
A: My first live show was a house show in Starke, Florida (just east of Gainesville, FL), and the only televised live program was Survivor Series (2000) in Tampa, FL. I have since attended two NXT shows here in Orlando, and I can’t wait to go to the next one. I had a chance to buy tickets for the Royal Rumble back in January, but I decided to buy my house instead. I’ve already got my calendar marked for the next Orlando on sale dates, but part of me is itching to go on a day trip to an NXT show out of town. I would love to see a RAW or SmackDown! taping, but I would prefer to go with some friends. I entered for a chance to go to WrestleMania 32 in Dallas, TX, but that would be quite the Hail Mary Longest-of-Long Shots.
Update: Better yet! WrestleMania 33 is coming to Orlando next April!
When I can fit it into the budget, I love going to the NXT Live shows here in Orlando. I am willing to battle rush hour traffic to ensure that I am there early enough to snag a ticket for the pre-show meet and greets. Every NXT superstar I’ve met has been nothing but kind and humble (regardless if they are a face/heel on TV). As a local fan, I feel invested in their careers, so I take genuine interest in their matches and other ventures, too.
Q3: What is your favorite match?
A: There are so many, but the one that sealed my love for professional wrestling as a young lady was the No Mercy (1999) Pay-Per-View ladder match between The Hardy Boyz (pictured below with Lita) and Edge/Christian. It was all daredevil movies, men with wild hair, and ladders galore! I was absolutely riveted by the highflying and ambitious style of all four competitors. This match was the foothold that launched them out of the depths of the roster and elevated them to Superstar Status. There have been many ladder matches since (and even a few before), but none of them ever gave me the same rush than the Terri Runnels Invitational Ladder Match.
Later, when Hall of Famer, Lita joined the Hardyz there was a great set of intergender and mixed tag matches. Part of one of my class projects was on women in wrestling, and of course, my favorite Lucha Lady was at the top of the list! She is also a vegan and has a killer smoothie recipe!
Q4: Have you ever tried out any wrestling moves?
A: Not by my own choosing! At the first WrestleMania party I attended during college, I was dressed up as Jeff Hardy (last minute invite) and the host was Chris Jericho (complete with sparkly shirt). I made the mistake of going to hug the host during this blessed and costumed occasion. Before I knew it, the hug became a leg sweep and while I was trying to catch my breath, he was back up and locking me into the Walls of Jericho. All I wanted was beer and some pizza, but left wanting a chiropractor. It was fun, but the next few days, my lower back killed! Mercifully, this was back when film cameras were all the rage and social media didn’t exist. I do wish I could find a photo of it.
Q5: Isn’t wrestling a little misogynistic for a feminist to watch?
A: During the late 1990s (“The Attitude Era”), I had a difficult time with it, especially as I was concentrating part of my degree in Women’s Studies and Gender Theory. Thankfully, the WWE has graduated from the bras and panties matches and skimpy bikini swimsuit shoots, focusing their efforts on athleticism and showcasing their Divas in magazines like Muscle & Fitness Hers instead of Playboy. Personally, I love that the NXT Women’s Title employs the word “WOMEN” instead of the main roster “DIVAS” designation. If the women in the WWE and other companies want to be taken seriously, they need to focus on the empowerment of women and high maintenance spoiled princess imagery diva tends to emanate. Just over a year ago, there was a 30-second Divas match which sparked a fan-based push to equal consideration and TV time for the women’s roster. The power of social media was the catalyst for the Divas Revolution storyline, but there is still much progress to be made for equality.
In WWE’s Top 25 Matches of the 2015, there were four ranked women’s matches, of which three were among the NXT Women. I watched the dissolution of Team BAE as Sasha and Becky destroyed each other (#15/25). I bit my nails through Sasha and Bayley’s 30 minute Iron Woman match as they became the first women to do such a match as well as main event a Pay-Per-View event (#10/25). I cried in the poetic beauty of Bayley and Sasha ripping off the roof at NXT Brooklyn for the NXT Women’s Championship (#2/25) in which the title changed hands, from Sasha to Bayley.
Wooooo! Huggable. Legit Boss. Lass Kicker. (NXT Brooklyn)
This also brought forth the graduation of three of the Four Horsewomen: Charlotte (not pictured), Sasha and Becky from NXT and their elevation to the main roster. Although Bayley stayed behind, she is leading the locker room at NXT as champion and is helping sculpt the future of NXT. Other fab ladies like Alexa Bliss, Carmella, Asuka, Emma, Dana Brooke, Peyton Royce, Nia Jax, and Billie Kay are are hungry and looking to make their name as the next NXT Women’s Champion! What I love is the solidarity and sisterhood put forth by many of the Women in NXT because they define what “women’s wrestling” should entail.
I love me some BayMella! They’re Fabulously Huggable!
I’ll admit it… I largely have the WWE Network, so I can watch NXT because the women’s wrestling is stellar!
Answer Me, These Questions Three:
- Have you watched any professional wrestling programming?
- Do you have a favorite professional wrestler?
- What questions do you have about professional wrestling?
I got plenty of heat from Paul Heyman in the best way possible!