On a hot July evening, I race upstairs and call to my stepson, “Lawrence, WWE’s RAW breaks TV and social media records. Look!” I show him my laptop computer screen, the evidence clearly there on http://www.newsday.com. “Do you remember watching it on Tuesday night?” “It was the 1000 episode!” My cool collected and confident ten-year-old stepson turns around and corrects me, “Well it was actually Monday night and yes I did know it was the 1000 episode.”
Lawrence is right, we did watch it on Monday, but as you get older, I explained to him, the days kind of melt together. My memory isn’t quite as sharp as his, but I do remember watching Dude Love, aka Mick Foley, wearing his trademark multicolored tie dye shirt as he stepped on stage from ringside and presented Mr. Socko. For those who are not familiar with Mr. Socko, he is basically an athletic sock with a sharpie marker face but with so much personality that he has become one of Mick Foley’s larger than life creations.
During the 1000 episode, AJ and Daniel Bryan are about to get married when Vince McMann (Creator of RAW and an East Carolina University alumni) walks out on the stage and announces that he is offering AJ the general manager position of WWE which she enthusiastically say YES to. Daniel Bryan is heartbroken that AJ has chosen to be general manager over becoming his bride. He angrily demolishes the wedding alter as well as the stage. AJ dances around and taunts him in her lace wedding dress and steps off the stage reveling her Chuck Taylor tennis shoes. The crowd is out of control. It is the largest sold out audience in WWE history. I could go on…. The ROCK makes an appearance …. More wrestling…. You get the picture.
It was a very big night for wrestling fans across the nation, maybe the world as my husband, Chris informed me that even Bedouin tribes in the Middle East watched RAW Smack Down on Monday night. He heard this on NPR.
For anyone who knows me, watching RAW is completely the antithesis of who I am. I am a peaceful artsy kind of woman. My initiation into the wrestling world occurred while I was in fifth grade and my friend Beth was crazy about Randy Macho Man Savage. A lot of people in my hometown, Hazard, like wrestling, which probably isn’t too shocking, but while I lived in Durham, in the 1990’s, my housemate Bill and his young son, Will, were avid viewers. In those days, WWE was called the WWF until the World Wildlife Federation threatened to sue because they believed they had rights over the acronym. Bill isn’t the type of person I would have ever imaged would have been drawn to wrestling. He is a Dead Head and a mellow type of guy, but both he and Will were captivated by wrestling and although there were times I would stare in wonder at why they were so immersed in this violent obsession, it wasn’t long before I was engrossed in RAW as well.
I admit, my attitude about wrestling was very high and mighty but once I moved beyond my preconceived notions, what I discovered was storytelling through human struggle. I love the fighting and drama as well as the crazy costumes. Wrestling is theater for the people and it draws on classic themes of good and evil.
During the time I lived in Bill’s house, I also observed that he and Will shared a special father and son bond as they watched The Rock and Stone Cold Steve slam each other in the wrestling ring. Funny, years later, I am a stepmother to a boy who loves wrestling as well. The act of bonding is a life long commitment, and I have only been a mother for a couple of years. So during the stolen moments on a Monday night, between folding laundry and assisting with homework, it feels good to occasionally watch an episode of RAW SmackDown with Lawrence and know we are sharing something his father and sister have absolutely no interest in watching, something that is just between the two of us.