By Doug Halberstadt
It’s Sunday (April 1), and I just finished going through my e-mail and Facebook messages from the weekend. I found one of particular interest. I’ve been invited to attend a public showing of WrestleMania XXVIII at a local establishment. This is no April Fools’ Day joke.
Starting at 5:30 p.m., they are showing live coverage of at least nine scheduled matches emanating live from Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla. The tagline for this event is “Once in a Lifetime.” I guess that means I better go.
Honesty compels me to tell you that long ago, I was a huge professional wrestling fan. This predates the WWE and WWF and the sideshow circus that the sport is today. When I first started watching the “sport,” it was called the American Wrestling Association and was broadcast locally every Sunday morning at 11 a.m. on WREX-TV. The show originated out of the Minneapolis-St.Paul area. As I grew older, I became less and less of a fan of what the sport had evolved into.
Back in my youth, the ring was set up in the middle of a television studio, and there were only about three or four rows of folding chairs on a couple of sides of the ring for the audience. It didn’t resemble anything that is shown on television nowadays. There were no fireworks, huge digital flat-screen monitors or any of those types of extras. It was much, much simpler — just the ring, a bell and some fans.
The intensity of the matches might be the only thing that remains the same. The rivalry between the good guys and the “heels” hasn’t changed that much. The fans from both yesterday and today somehow have managed to maintain the one constant theme of this unique sports entertainment product. The eternal conflict of good vs. evil is the dominant thread that is intrinsically woven throughout this fabric that has blended athleticism and showmanship.
It doesn’t really matter who the players are. The story has stayed the same and stood up to the test of time. Years ago, it was Ray “The Crippler” Stevens in a grudge match against “The Crusher”. Tonight, it’s “The Rock” vs. John Cena followed by “The Undertaker” taking on Triple H in a “Hell in a Cell” match.
The names have all changed, the audiences have upgraded from sitting ringside in folding chairs to sky-boxes in huge arenas, the television production level has sky rocketed, the salaries and ticket prices have undoubtedly outpaced inflation, and people still love to cheer for the good guys and boo the bad ones.
I’m going to go to tonight’s show. I just hope it is as much fun as those Sunday mornings were years and years ago.
Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.
From the April 4-10, 2012, issue