TLDR: Seven months ago, I was just a young gal with a dream: to understand what the fuck half of the people I spent any measure of time with were talking about, ever. Now I am going to sleep in a bathtub.
UNNECESSARY EXTRAPOLATION: Did you know that Wrestlemania 32 is this Sunday in Arlington, Texas? I do, because I’ve been having intermittent panic attacks about it for the past month. In case you’re late to the party, I’ve been frantically learning the ins and outs of professional wrestling on a biweekly basis. It’s a full-time job, homies—not only is there the current roster to keep up with, there’s upwards of a hundred years of backstory to stay sharp on in order to understand something as simple as a singular Flair tear. There’s history in those tears, people. Confusing-ass history.
So I’m going to freak out now, on the plane, and in the bathtub of the airbnb I’m sleeping in this weekend in a house full of strangers from Kentucky, which I’ll get to later. It’s been a weird trip, and although I still need to pipe up every few minutes to clarify what match in 1996 someone is referencing like it’s a goddamn Phish show, I can keep up for the most part. (But don’t go internationally, I’ll lose my shit.)
There’s going to be an exhaustive piece on the event that has woken me up in a cold, slightly aroused sweat for the past several weeks come Monday, but in the meantime, here are a few of the (embarrassingly earnest) things I’ve taken away from getting into wrestling for the past half year and change.
I found the love of my life. WEEEEEEEEEELL, I don’t even know if I’m joking anymore. I’ve gone on the record as being truly and madly in love with Paul Wight, and would mount him with hiking gear to get the job done. I would use him like a slip n’ slide. I would do weird things with my legs. I would do everything that I, a small cabaret performance at best, could do to keep up with The Big Show.
I’m going to make out with him on Sunday or I’m renouncing my communion.
I got closer to my boss. Turns out that most people in your life who are a little quiet and never around on Tuesday nights are probably just as interested in greased-up slams and jams as you are. My day job isn’t necessarily a magnet for WWE fans the way past places I’ve worked, like an illegal pizza place or Target, would be, but that’s the beauty of entertainment sports—its fans are lurking in every corner of the world. A white-hot hatred of Roman Reigns took what was going to be a work event riddled with social anxiety into sweating through a cardigan explaining my “Reigns is the Jeb Bush of his family” theory, which is absolutely correct.
Everything is a lie, sort of. Far be it for me to say that the concept of kayfabe changed my life, but let’s go ahead and say that it absolutely did. It’s like finding out an indescribable feeling you’ve had for a long time actually has a German word that hits you in the heart. The fake writing combined with real consequences and an unreasonable amount of commitment to never breaking character are two things that I value above all else in writing, comedy and decades-long bits that allow me to be emotionally distant from my parents.
What is the sporting or entertainment equivalent of El Santo refusing to remove his luchador mask for forty years? It doesn’t exist anywhere else, unless you count Andy Kaufman, who most will know was very into wrestling.
Women have it hard everywhere, but especially when your job is to wear underwear and still be taken seriously. As someone coming into the WWE fold just as the now-iconic Bayley vs. Sasha Banks match lit up the internet as one of the more triumphant women’s matches in the organization’s history (I just rewatched and yes, it’s true), there’s progress going on. Granted, until models being positioned as athletes a la Eva Marie filter out of the system entirely there’s still a mountain of issues to scale, but the Sasha vs. Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte match says it all to me—three talented female wrestlers who made their way through the organization on talent and perform on par and often above male Superstars are now the faces of the division. Sure, Sasha and Charlotte had some family advantages on their side, but hey, who hasn’t in the WWE? Look no further than former Minnesota Viking Roman Reigns for evidence of that.
Also, while I can’t vouch for Total Divas on E! as a beacon of progressive woman-focused programming, it’s really good and I will never not watch it. That and Swerved because baby, no one’s too good for the bloops.
I am over my resentment of brass instruments. Thank you, Xavier Woods and The New Day. As someone who was dumped by a brass player at age 16 for “needing more time to practice instruments in the brass family,” this is truly a breakthrough in my life.
No fucking marks. Incredible how a sentence that meant absolutely nothing a year ago can now fill you with a blazing rage reserved for my mother’s brunch friends and Trump supporters.
Wrestling can fill virtually any void in your life. As far as life-consuming habits go, wrestling is an especially interesting one—unlike other hobbies like comedy (guilty) or making intricate whisper videos (aspirationally guilty), there’s not really a way to turn your passion for slams ‘n’ jams into a viable lifestyle with discernable cash flow a reality. Sure, the WWE nNetwork eases the need to be glued to the screen six nights a week, but most diehard fans can be found inside on a Wednesday for NXT and, a little more grudgingly, parked in front of RAW on Monday. There are thousands of podcasts, fan sites and message boards teeming with theories, predictions and occasional old-fashioned misogyny. It’s not a yoga class that starts and ends inside of an hour. For the true blues, it’s a way of life that can consume relationships, long days at work and long nights you could be doing anything else. So why do it?
Even with its occasional, hamfisted political edge, professional wrestling is escapism at its finest, and it’s where the fans go to obsess over something that isn’t themselves. Without waxing poetic (jk I’ve been doing that for months), I started in on wrestling right after moving across the country from everyone I know hot off a banger of a breakup, and sticking yourself in a cage with Undertaker for an evening can be less overwhelming than, for instance, figuring out how you’re going to make rent. It’s a magical thing that has many fucked up cactus spikes attached, but it’s got heart and I think I might be stuck with it for life.
Okay, gang, it’s the home stretch. I’m going to Mania this Sunday, and I’m going to stalk the Big Show, and I’m going to talk to as many wrestling fans from as many walks of life as I possibly can, and I’m going to black out and hopefully still make my flight Monday morning. (If you’re reading this and want to chat on Sunday, please tweet at me and I’d love to meet ya.)
I just thought about going to Mania and not getting to make out with the Big Show and got sick all over my desk. Anyways, here’s a picture of the Big Show and everyone he’s been married to.
Anyways, I’m going to make out with him. Even if it ruins his life, and especially if it ruins mine. He’s into blondes? We’ll see about that. See you Sunday, babe.
DAYS UNTIL WRESTLEMANIA: Two days. Holy shit. Okay.
State of Union: I, yeah, well, you know, let’s see how this goes.