Posted by Joe Giachetti
Most of the time when I watch WWE programming, I find myself critiquing the product. Having been a fan for over 20 years, I feel pretty knowledgeable about professional wrestling, after seeing so many matches and storylines take place over that time period. There are often times when I question the decisions that WWE makes. Sometimes they push a wrestler I don’t like, and hold down one that I do. A match outcome will be the opposite of what I want to see as a fan. The championships will be on certain wrestlers that I don’t feel are the best fit at that point in time. But on days when I’m not watching WWE and I can take a step away from the product, I then realize how much I really do enjoy watching WWE. For all the little things that bother me about what they do, the WWE has done so many things over the years to bring enjoyment to all it’s fans. So I wanted to change gears a bit from a lot of the criticism or judgment that I pass on the WWE and it’s programming and share some positive views of WWE, and the man who is responsible for bringing the WWE product to where it is today, Vince McMahon.
I started watching WWE (then WWF) in 1989 as a seven year old kid. It immediately struck a chord with me at the time and I began watching WWE Superstars every Saturday religiously. Of course, I didn’t have the money at the time to order and watch pay per views such as WrestleMania, the Royal Rumble and SummerSlam. But thanks to a friend of mine who had a not so legal hookup to a cable box, I was able to watch VHS tapes of those shows, so I could follow along with the storylines on tv each week. I immediately became a member of the WWF Fan Club, and got a bunch of cool toys and souvenirs that went along with it. At that point, I was hooked. Names like Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage and the Ultimate Warrior were the main players at that point. Vince McMahon brought them to me on tv shows like WWE Superstars, Wrestling Challenge and Saturday Night’s Main Event. Not only were they on tv, but there were t-shirts and other wrestling merchandise available to buy for all of these wrestlers. My personal kryptonite was action figures. I lost track of the number of action figures I amassed a kid growing up at the time, seemingly always bugging my parents to buy me one I saw in the stores that I didn’t already have (sorry, Mom and Dad). I stayed with the WWE through the era of Hulk Hogan, into the 93-94 time period when guys like Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Diesel, and Razor Ramon started to come to the forefront. Things had changed but my interest remained the same. While I understood by this point that wrestling was pre-determined it didn’t stop me from still caring about the outcomes of matches and cheering for wrestlers that I was a fan of.
Up to this point I had attended a few local house shows that my Dad had gotten tickets for. Living in New York, I attended local shows at Nassau Coliseum and Madison Square Garden. At that time the New York market was one the WWE frequented multiple times a year. By the time I became a teenager we had hit the Attitude Era with Steve Austin, The Rock and Degeneration X. WWE was still coming to NY pretty frequently, and now I did have the money to order ppvs and most importantly, attend live events. So I went to live shows like Monday Night Raw, and they were some of the greatest experiences I’ve had. I even got to go to my first pay per view, SummerSlam 1998. Being in the crowd for these shows at that time was incredible. I had watched growing up for so long all of these wrestlers and larger than life characters that Vince helped to create and promote, and now I was able to see it in person. The topper of it all came in 2004 when I was able to attend WrestleMania XX from Madison Square Garden. Ironically on that show, Vince came out to address the live audience and thanked us for helping make WWE what it had become. The feeling from the live crowd was mutual however. The experience of being in that arena for the biggest show of the year was something that I personally never thought I’d be able to do. But thanks to Vince McMahon and the WWE, I had that opportunity and it was one of the greatest experiences of my life.
Today WWE is still going strong with names like John Cena, Randy Orton, CM Punk and Daniel Bryan at the top of the card. I don’t get to attend as many shows as I used to, but I still watch Raw every week and all the pay per views. Whether I like everything about the WWE product or not, I still respect it and continue to be a fan. Vince McMahon has made the industry a global phenomenon. WWE has been a big part of a lot of people’s lives for a long time, and I can’t quite picture what things would be like without it.
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