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Wrestling with an Identity

It may sound funny but I'm a big soap opera fan well, actually a pro wrestling fan and my main media source to access it is television. Before I begin I'll start with my earliest ID of myself and identifying with pro wrestling. Name: ***** ****** ******* Date of birth: 11-21-74 Hour: 7:37 p.m. Sex: Male This birth: Single Mother: Christine Sanders Father: Roosevelt Sanders Hospital: Rush Presbyterian St. Luke Hospital. This is the beginning of everyone's first recognized identity. A person's birth certificate gives an identity to a person before they are able to talk.

My father was a wrestling fan when he was a teenager and I can remember him telling me about the people he liked to watch such as Buddy Rogers, Bobo Brazil, Red Bastein, etc. and how they wrestle longer matches approximately 45 minutes for the 1st match. As I was growing up I tried to play sports in grade school, but I was not that good at any of the more popular team sports (basketball, baseball, and football), because my hand-eye coordination sucked at the time. I would be embarrassed when I screwed up a play and drop the ball. That's also why I wasn't very fond of playing team sports, I enjoyed individual sports better, because if I screwed up it would be my own loss not a loss for the team.

I can remember one day when I was eight or nine years old I went with my father over to my aunt and uncle's house and my older cousins were watching television in the living room and they were shouting and cheering. I went to see what they were doing and they were watching wrestling. That was the first time that I saw what my father was talking about. The wrestler they were watching was "Nature Boy" Ric Flair and he was the NWA(National Wrestling Alliance) World Heavyweight Champion. After his match he was interviewed and I can remember his famous line at the time " to be the man you have to beat the man, and I'm the man-Whoooooo!!". My cousins shouted whoooo with him as he said it. He was a bad guy, but my cousins liked him anyway. One of my cousins commented by saying that he liked him, because he's one of the coolest white men that he has ever seen. Flair had a lot of charisma, style and wrestling skill. I enjoyed the action and was immediately hooked.

My father took me to my first live wrestling event at the Rosemont Horizon. Two memorable matches were Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat vs. Jake "The Snake" Roberts and Hulk Hogan vs. Mr. Perfect. Rick Steamboat was my favorite wrestler, because he was a good guy, a positive role model, showed class (with his character) in and out of the ring, a great technical and aerial wrestler, calm and displayed a variety of moves in the ring even martial arts moves. Hulk Hogan was one of my least favorite wrestlers because he had little to no wrestling talent, he used the same moves all the time, and he always won the match. He had a lot of charisma, but he still sucked. Before I graduated from elementary school I stopped watching wrestling after I found out that it was fake and after Ricky Steamboat retired.

I joined the wrestling team when I entered high school and it was nothing like what I saw on television. There were different holds that were used and no power slams or DDT's were allowed. I made many mistakes and usually lost a match by points. I always tried to go for the pin instead of winning on points. Even though I it wasn't like what I saw on television I enjoyed its competitive and individualistic/collective nature. What I mean by this is that we each represented our own weight class, but our win wasn't just recognized individually it also helped out the team as well. As a kid growing up I was shy and didn't know how to fight well so I used some wrestling moves that I learned from watching pro wrestling and from the wrestling team, sometimes it worked but most of the time it didn't. Being on the team helped me to work better with others as a team and to be responsible for my part of the team's goal.

Television helped draw me into the wrestling world and has influenced me by helping me become more aggressive and (somewhat) outgoing. I've returned to watching wrestling with a different perspective and for what it is, an entertainment medium were wrestlers personify mythical figures and act out model motifs that appeal to the fan's deepest, unconscious needs. As a child, my needs were to be a part of the crowd and to be noticed; but then I realized that I couldn't be noticed if I'm running with the pack. I was so interested in pro wrestling because not everyone was a fan and he fans of this type of entertainment are able to be more interactive to what is going on in the ring. As you watch a match it's like watching a live action movie or a soap opera do to the fact that the show's story lines are continuous throughout the year or until the storyline dies out. Today, in American wrestling, more emphasis is put on the storyline rather than the wrestling. I watch it now because it's a sport and movie in one hence, that is why I always call pro wrestling to other people outside of the culture my form of sports entertainment.

February 1999

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