Back in the day I used to get a kick out of watching wresting on TV with my older brothers. We cheered for the good guys to come to their feet as the bad guys would somehow manage to pull a metal chair out from under the ring without the referee’s awareness. The chair was typically used to slam across the good guys back with a big foot stomp onto the canvas of the ring to heighten the effect. The wrestlers had sidekicks and funny-looking managers who always seemed to worm their way in front of the cameras for some trash talk.
A cartoon was quickly fashioned after the wrestlers, which my brothers and I watched religiously on Saturday mornings. All of our favourite muscle-heads would team up working together to thwart their dim-witted opponents. There was Macho Man Randy Savage, Hulk Hogan (of course), Hacksaw Jim Dugan, and Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura. The Body went on to become the Governor of Minnesota. Wrestling was full of violence, definitely, but it was good wholesome violence, since Hulk Hogan did remind kids to take their vitamins.
Fast forward to Motherhood. One rainy Sunday my eight year old son and I were flicking through the channels and I was excited, despite my grown-up self, to come across a wrestling program. I even recognized one of the Wrestlers from my childhood! The Undertaker. He had aged, but the dark make-up he now donned somewhat concealed that fact. Needless to say that my son was thrilled to find that I was interested in watching the program, and more so, that I was going to allow him to watch something violent on TV.
Sadly for both of us, it wasn’t long lived. Within a few minutes I realized with a sunken heart that wrestling has changed since I was his age. The language for one was enough to make me swiftly earmuff my son’s ears. Apparently the steel chairs of my day had been replaced with large ladders which wrestlers use to pummel each other mercilessly with before climbing to the top for a swan dive onto their unconscious opponents. What’s wrong with climbing as far as the top rope for a Flying Body Slam like in the good old days? This new Extreme Wrestling was quickly banned from my household. The kicker was when my son tried to maul me to death when we were play fighting a few days later.
It’s fun to share re-runs with your kids, like the Smurfs or the Muppets. But I suggest that you proceed with caution when watching anything that has been de-evolving for the last twenty years. The type of entertainment that used to be boisterous and fun has become down right brutal and violent. So I say a fond farewell to Andre the Giant, The Million Dollar Man, The Ultimate Warrior and all my other childhood friends of the wrestling ring and hello to Extreme Parental Guidance as a new pastime.