If there is one thing I know about pro wrestling above all else, after thirty-three years of watching it and earning my stripes as a top 1% enthusiast, it is that you either get it or you don’t. It’s almost like it just chooses you somehow, and those who get it will always have a unique kinship with the other chosen ones and those who don’t get it will never understand its appeal. The only thing I’ve written and talked more about than health in my lifetime is pro wrestling, but though I’ve convinced thousands why they should take their health more seriously, I’ve never convinced anyone who didn’t get wrestling why they should appreciate it.
Such is why it genuinely lit up my world when my daughter took a big interest in wrestling this summer. She is now eight years old; there have been fleeting but substantial moments of intrigue from her previously, such as asking on two separate occasions to go to wrestling shows in person (I, of course, happily obliged both requests). Last November on the way back from AEW, she told me that she likes wrestling because I like it and it gives her a chance to hang out with me. I told her how much I loved that and her, but also made clear that wrestling was my thing and didn’t need to be her thing for us to hang out; I would happily take interest in stuff she likes. So, wrestling didn’t come up much after that.
Then, back in June, she asked to watch wrestling. So, we did. And then she asked me to leave her sticky notes with match suggestions for when she woke up each morning. I can pick out wrestling matches from the past 35 years like I can movies, so not only did I oblige her request, but I did it with gusto. I had to pick matches that were no longer than 15-minutes in length and generally fast-paced because of her attention span and current fan preferences; like limiting choices for a budding movie buff to the action and comedy genres. I gave her a wide-range, from the Blindfold Match between Jake “The Snake” and Rick Martel to Mysterio-Guerrero in WCW to Angle vs. Edge Hair vs. Hair to modern classic tag matches.
When she ended that routine after about a month – and what a glorious month for the father of a budding wrestling enthusiast! – I thought that perhaps she was done for a bit. However, her next request was of the sort that builds fans for life: she asked to stay up and watch Summerslam, the second (or third) biggest WWE event of the year. A movie fan can become a lifer by watching old movies; I can attest to that. The lifeblood of wrestling fandom, like sports fandom, is watching the biggest events as they happen – LIVE. There’s just something about making memories at the same time that everyone else around the world is making the same memories simultaneously. I had let her stay up to watch maybe the first hour of a WWE pay-per-view before, but never the entire show. Having always wanted my kids to “get” wrestling, I pounced on the opportunity to stoke the flames of her sports entertainment enthusiasm by allowing her to watch Summerslam 2020 in its entirety LIVE.
She was so much fun to watch Summerslam with too. I’m like an encyclopedia about my passions and welcomed the opportunity to offer insight like I did for so many years on my podcast, The Doc Says. She got really into it like never before. We had a great time! I was especially fond of her seeming to strike a balance between enjoying the childhood fascination with the “this is real to me” part of the experience and the awareness that some matches are just more engaging than others, as evidenced by her use of the phrase “that was a good match” on several occasions that I, author of the book that defined greatness across WWE lore, hope forms the foundation of deeper conversations about sports entertainment in the future.
Time will tell if summer 2020 was just a phase she went through or if it will preview an activity we spend years enjoying together. Either way, for both her and I, it was something we needed during a tumultuous time in modern history.