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Sunday, October 15, 2006

My first time watching live professional 'rasslin

Yesterday was... different at work. All day Reidsville was having its annual Antique Alley Street Festival, so practically everyone employed at the station was busy doing something either live on the street or back in the studio. I figure that a lot of the other school board candidates probably took the opportunity to do some campaigning but I had to miss out 'cuz of work... but that's okay 'cuz I've never been all that comfortable with working an event like that anyway. People and their families come to something like the Street Festival to have fun and get away from the real-life stuff for a few hours: I wouldn't want to be someone who goes and confronts them with it at something like that. But, that's just me. I had a good time all the same working the Street Festival at the station.

And then came last night...

In a building around the corner and down the street from the station, the AIWF Wrestling crew were setting up the ring and everything to do a bunch of pro wrestling matchups. This was the first night that we were taping the matches for AIWF's new television show, so we had to move a lot of equipment from the station and locations from the festival into the building and get everything set up. Admission was $5 with drinks and popcorn each going for a dollar: guess who wound up being the guy running the makeshift box office? Yup, yours truly :-) Quite a few people - I'd say over a hundred easily - came to watch the pro wrestling. And I've seen it tons of times on television over the year but this was the first time I'd seen it live and up close.

How was it? Well... the people who paid to see it were definitely entertained. But for the first time I realized how much that pro wrestling really is a sport about theatrics and slick acrobatics. Gotta admit that these are a pretty colorful bunch of guys - with names like Gemini and Butch Steel and East Coast Bodily Harm - who go all-out to give the audience a good show. I was more impressed with their skill in the ring to seemingly do so many dangerous stunts without anyone really getting hurt or injured. I would never try to do something like what these guys were doing... but I have to admire the way they executed it all, even though more than a few times it was pretty obvious that they weren't even really hitting each other. And then to see a wrestler talking trash into the camera about another one during the show but later see them hanging out with each other like they were good drinking buddies...

I think I'm finally starting to understand pro wrestling's appeal, even though some of its fans will admit that it's not an "authentic" sporting event: people love to watch good guys and bad guys fight it out. Even if they're fake good guys and bad guys (but from what I saw of them before and after the show they're all a decent and fun bunch of people) it's that whole thing about being able to see the world in the basest terms of black and white and pick sides. Which is maybe why I didn't enjoy it as much as most of the people last night: because I've come to a point in my life where I can't see other people in terms of black/white but instead have realized that it's really a myriad shades of gray. I sort of regret that, because the people last night - including just about all of my co-workers - really were having a good time watching this, and it was something that I couldn't make myself appreciate on the same level.

But, it was the first time that I'd seen pro wrestling being done live, and so I'm probably always going to remember all the craziness that happened last night for as long as I live. I gotta admit: it was certainly a different way to work a Saturday night than just being in the studio and hitting "play" for Inside the Game or Home Team.