It’s time to announce a new series on Wrestling Recaps, “Timeline Through The Fans Eyes.” The idea of the series is to relive professional wrestling similar to how Kayfabe Commentaries would do with a single talent to discuss the major happenings of an entire year. In this case, I’ve contacted various wrestling fans that have unique opinions on varying topics, which should spark conversation. This will be a lengthy project and if you’re interested in partaking in the series, just send an e-mail and you’ll be added!
We’ll be covering a year on a month by month basis just so that the posts aren’t too loaded and overwhelming. There’s likely going to be many opinions and different takes. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments during this series, as well!
This post will feature background information for the people involved thus far, including myself. It will be fun to see how everyone became a fan and how their fandom evolved through the years. We will likely be starting in 1987 and focus on both WCW/NWA and the WWF. Down the road, we will revert back to the early 80s to round it out. When we get into other companies existing, they will be added to the series, too.
Wrestling Recaps has been going strong for over ten years now. I’ve been a fan of professional wrestling ever since I got my hands on a WWF magazine that saw Yokozuna destroy Jim Duggan. I was hooked and terrified of Yokozuna for a little while after that. I didn’t even start to watch WWF RAW until 1998 as I would only watch WWF Livewire and kept up with the happenings through magazines.
I got into WCW after I stumbled upon a syndication show where Dustin Rhodes was getting demolished by Bunkhouse Buck and I recall there being blood involved. I feel that’s a completely random angle to get hooked on, but that’s how it happened for me. Oddly, I would often watch WCW Nitro before I even tried to figure out where RAW was on in 1995 and 1996. If I was a little older than seven years old, I would have been flipping back and forth no doubt about it.
As for ECW, which won’t be discussed for a little while, I stumbled upon a promo by a man with a towel over his head and aggressively talking about a match for a title. Any guesses on who that was? Well, if you guessed Taz then you’d be correct. I didn’t see any wrestling on the show, but I knew I wanted to see more of Taz. I caught very little of ECW in the early mornings, but I was a fan of Taz and New Jack. I was maybe nine years old at this time doing New Jack’s arm taunts. I didn’t religiously watch ECW when they went to TNN, but I kept tabs on it the best I could. I’ll be curious to see people’s reaction to what happened in ECW during that era.
The remainder of this entry will be profiles of people who agreed to take part in this series. Who are you more similar to in terms of fandom? I’m looking forward to discussions that can come out of this.
My earliest memory wasn’t a Christmas morning, or a Birthday party, or even going to Disney. No, my earliest memory was when I was 4, I got in trouble for taping over my VHS copy of Donald Duck’s 50th Birthday Celebration with Crockett Promotions show WCW. When I have rewatched this VHS, I have started to record in the middle of a Lex Luger vs Lazertron match. And so began my fandom. I used to love Saturday mornings when I was a kid, because I would be bombarded with WCW, WWF, USWA, WCCW, and ICW for the whole day. I have gone to shows as a fan and as part of the crew. In my late 20’s – early 30’s I have been lucky enough to film and share locker rooms with a wide array of stars. Steve Corino, New Jack, Demolition, Jay Lethal, 2 Cold Scorpio, Jillian Hall, Leva Bates, Lince Dorado, Kalisto, and Bill Alfonso to name a few.
My wrestling fandom literally dates back to my birth. I was born on a cold winter morning in December of 1982. The day before, my parents were watching wrestling with my grandfather and aunt when my mother went into labor. I was a child of the 80’s and grew up in Upstate New York, so I was naturally a big WWF fan. Later on, I would also be able to watch AWA and World Class wrestling on ESPN. In 1989, at the age of six, I first started watching NWA/WCW. That was what first led to me being able to appreciate good wrestlers. The WWF always seemed so black and white. This guy is a good guy, and this guy is a bad guy. But, then I’d see wrestlers like The Great Muta, The Midnight Express, and Arn Anderson. They were bad guys, but I could recognize the fact that they were good wrestlers. Thirty years later, my mindset isn’t all that different. My family and friends were also into wrestling, but I jumped in with both feet. My friends and classmates used to tell me that I was obsessed. Truth be told, they weren’t wrong. Watching it on TV wasn’t enough.
I wanted to read all the magazines, rent all the videos, and learn as much as I possibly could. Unfortunately, technology wasn’t quite with me at that point. It would be close to ten years before I’d get online and discover things like message boards and websites dedicated to wrestling history. However, wrestling’s popularity declining led to be being able to build up a decent sized collection of wrestling tapes. People weren’t exactly lining up to rent them anymore, so several mom and pop type video stores were more than willing to sell them for ten bucks or so. Fast forward to now. I’m thirty-seven years old. I have a wife and two daughters. I still love wrestling (despite what some people who disagree with my writing may tell you). I don’t watch it as much as I used to, due to other things having to take priority. But, I read about it and write about it. I’ve had my own website since 2005, and I contribute to my friend Bob’s blog. I’m part of several facebook groups dedicated to wrestling. I’m still more drawn to those who I feel are the best actual wrestlers. If I had the choice between Kenny Omega and Timothy Thatcher, I’d go Thatch-As-Thatch-Can every day of the week and five times on Sunday!
BILLY VAN GORDEN
I was a fan of pro wrestling during the Attitude Era, but I fell out of it probably because of age and my childhood favorites leaving the company. But I still have vivid memories of some memorable things I’ve witnessed. For example, Mankind being tossed off a 20ft cage onto concrete with only a cheap table to break his fall. My dad used to order wrestling pay per views and I bonded with him in watching them. I wanted to be like my dad and that’s why I’m also a Dallas Cowboys fan.
The Attitude Era was my favorite with DX because it gave me empowerment to just say screw the world and I’m always going to do me. The Rock is where I’ve gotten my entertainment skills as he was always great at promos and talking shit. I fell out of enjoying wrestling because of the storylines being too childish and the lack of entertainment. These days, everyone wrestles the same and they feel like robots. Though, I do find myself watching AEW sometimes.
BRANDON “SPEC” LYLES
Favorite Era – NWA/WCW 1985 – 1994…. with WCW 1991 being my favorite year.
Favorite Wrestler – Ric Flair
Favorite Tag Team – The Midnight Express…. Bobby & Stan
Interesting Fact About Me – I am a longtime collector of Pro Wrestling PPV VHS Cassettes, Beta Cassettes and Laserdiscs.
My wrestling fandom started with my dad as it does with a lot of guys. My dad has been a wrestling fan dating back to the 1970s as he would go to the Greensboro Coliseum fairly regular back in those days to see guys like Johnny Weaver, Rip Hawk, Swede Hanson, Johnny Valentine, Wahoo McDaniel, Ric Flair, Gene and Ole Anderson, and later on guys like Paul Jones and Ricky Steamboat (who was his absolute favorite of all-time). Although he tells me he thinks wrestling has gotten dumber and dumber over the years (he’s been saying this since the Monday Night Wars era), he’s still a weekly watcher and as long as he can watch it on TV, there’s really no promotion he won’t watch to this day.
Maybe his unwavering love for wrestling has yet to die because he doesn’t really search it out on the internet. He doesn’t seek out the dirtsheets. He doesn’t read reviews. He doesn’t rate matches. He certainly doesn’t write about it. And yet with all the changes in wrestling over the past five decades of his fandom, he’s still into everything he can watch. He just enjoys watching the shows. Perhaps my dad should be writing about being a fan and not me.
My interests have always steered towards sports. I love sports. I grew up in the south in the 1990s and the Atlanta Braves were everything to me. While sports are never the same as when you are a young kid, I still love the Atlanta Braves. And of course, you can’t think of the Atlanta Braves in the 1990s without thinking of TBS, and you can’t think of TBS in the 1990s without also thinking of wrestling. World Championship Wrestling to me as a kid was equal to my love of the Atlanta Braves. I couldn’t get enough. You couldn’t tear me away from a Braves game or WCW TV. I was totally obsessed. I did fantasy match making before I knew what “booking” was. I pretended I was on the Braves and created game scenarios in my head where I always made the game winning home run out in my front yard hitting the ball around. I collected all the WCW figures that my mom would let me get. I had baseball cards all over my room. As a kid, baseball and WCW were just my favorite two things in the world.
I had never paid much attention to the WWF as a child, so all of my recaps from anything WWF up until the year 2000 I’m pretty much seeing for the first time. Part of the reason was my dad always felt the WWF was “more phony than WCW” back then. I mean, we would go through short phases where my dad and I would watch the WWF, but it never stuck like WCW Saturday Night or WCW Power Hour. Of course when Monday Nitro started, it was the best thing ever for a kid like me – another WCW show to watch WITH BIG NAME MATCHES. I was the biggest WCW fan all the way up until Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko, Perry Saturn, and Eddie Guerrero showed up on RAW in January 2000. I continued watching RAW and never looked back to WCW until the last show in March 2001. That’s the absolute truth.
While my love for baseball had started to wean off in the early 2000s as I became a teenager (most of my friends were wrestling fans, not so much baseball fans), my wrestling obsession continued onward. I collected VHS tapes and DVDs like you wouldn’t believe. I started going to live events. I would travel hundreds of miles to see shows – just because now I could. I would read everything I could find on the internet, and quickly became the biggest nerd who thought he knew everything about everything wrestling in my circle of friends. My other friends who weren’t quite as obsessive as me would laugh as they would ask me some obscure WCW question and I would correctly answer in a blink of an eye like we were discussing something common knowledge like the sky is blue, grass is green, and water is wet. I became that guy. I’m sure if you’re reading this, you can probably relate.
Knowing that I loved to write, and felt I could write like the people I loved to read (like CRZ, Scott Keith, and JD Dunn), I decided to give it a shot and start writing my own PPV recaps. I started writing about wrestling in 2004, created PDRwrestling to archive my recaps in 2007, and I’m still doing it (although not as frequently) whenever I have the chance to break away from being a married adult man. As a HUGE fan of weekly wrestling, I pretty much checked out by 2006, and I’m certain the internet played a part in destroying my naïve fandom, but my obsession for watching stuff I had never seen and only read about never wavered and probably will, which is why I’m still writing.
With a devoted interest in Puroresu and a soft spot for all World Calls, I tend to bring my unique love of logical and professional wrestling to the table. From Bruiser Bordy raising hell as a legit badass in Dallas during the late seventies and early eighties to the jaw dropping offense of Hayabusa lighting up Japan’s independent scene, I tend to enjoy everything else in between! These days, I’ve shied quite far from the current American product, but continue to be romanced by years passed.
Chad Walters – Shantal
My name is Chad Walters-Shantal, I am 37 years old living in North Syracuse NY. I have been watching wrestling since before I can remember. No seriously I found interest in it apparently as a baby sitting on my great-grandfather’s lap and have never not watched. I mostly watched NWA’s Mid Atlantic and Georgia Championship wrestling until they became the same show. That was due to us having basic cable and TBS having multiple wrestling shows on. I was into WWF but not nearly as much as WCW/NWA until around 1994. This was mainly due to TBS having like I said a lot more wrestling than our local channels. I might see WWF once or twice a week with WWF Superstars or Wrestling Challenge then the occasional Saturday Night’s Main Event. WCW had for a while a Friday night show, a Saturday morning show, a Saturday Night Show, Sunday Morning Show and Sunday Evening Show, then the occasional Clash of the Champions. I learned how to read the TV Guide around the age of 6 so that I could find whatever wrestling may be on.
I discovered Wrestling magazines when I was around 7. I particularly liked the Apter mags. I could find out about guys that were no longer in WCW or WWF, I found out that Mid South, AWA and WCCW went out of business all of which made a blip on my radar when everyone was trying to get tv time in “Vince’s” territory. Then I got to hear about guys that were huge stars in their own rights outside of the big two like Jerry Lawler and others. I became a hardcore WWF fan when WCW brought in Hogan, I no longer had basic cable, in fact we only had 3 local channels for quite a while so I could only see a weekly WWF show unless I went to a grandparent’s house and could watch there. In 96 we got satellite and then it was on. I watched WWF, ECW, WCW, AAA, CMLL and whatever else I could find. My favorite years in wrestling are 1989 NWA, 1991 WCW/WWF, 1992 WCW/WWF, 1997 WWF/ECW, 1998 WCW, 2001 WWE, 2005-2007 TNA.
My name’s James Fabiano, I am 43 from New Jersey, and I’m pushing 35 years of being a wrestling fan. I started watching wrestling in 1986, during the buildup to WrestleMania 2. It began when I heard kids in my third grade class talk about “Hulk Hulgan.” One kid wrote a report about getting to see the Nassau Coliseum arm of the Mania 2 show. Like most boys my age, I was heavy into Saturday morning cartoons, and syndicated ones like Transformers, G.I. Joe, and He-Man, and there, I started seeing commercials for the LJN WWF Wrestling Superstars figures. So I got a rudimentary introduction to the likes of Hogan, Roddy Piper, Jimmy Snuka, and Iron Sheik. I forget how, but I finally came across the actual WWF weekly shows on WOR-TV (Channel 9 in New York, future UPN and My Network channel). Think my first show contained the Haiti Kid head shaving Piper’s Pit. Whatever the case, I didn’t look back since.
By that summer, having had cable for just a couple of years, one Saturday I channel surfed over to TBS, and lo and behold, more wrestling. Only there was a new group of characters, different from WWF’s roster. Ric Flair, Dusty Rhodes, the Rock ‘n Roll Express….yes, this was Jim Crockett Promotions, synonymous with the NWA and the future WCW. They were also on a local Jersey cable network, CTN.
The Madison Square Garden Network kept me up to date on WWF shows coming from the Garden itself, and there I also picked up another wrestling company: World Class Championship Wrestling. Over on ESPN and WPIX (another New York channel, later to become a WB and now CW affiliate) was the AWA, my clearest first memory of which was seeing Jimmy Snuka and realizing, “Oh, that’s where Snuka went”. Remember I knew of him from the LJN ads, and the Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘n’ Wrestling cartoon, which I also watched religiously. But by the time I started watching actual WWF shows, he had been long gone from the company. AWA was also where I saw that Sgt Slaughter from G.I. Joe was actually a real person, and a wrestler to boot!
That Christmas, I got tickets for my first live event: a WWF house show at MSG to be held the next evening, headlined by Hogan vs. Kamala. Later, I would return to the Garden and especially the Meadowlands Arena for numerous other house shows. I attended two Monday Night Raw telecasts (Atlantic City, 1997, Taker and Mankind vs. DX; the post-SummerSlam Raw at the Garden in 2002) and the fifth In Your House pay-per-view in Hershey, PA. At one of said Meadowlands shows in 1991, I was amongst the first to hear of Ric Flair’s firing from WCW before it made TV! (outside, during intermission, I heard fans threatening to kill Dusty Rhodes for this. 14-year-old me thought it was because of their in-ring rivalry, nothing behind the scenes…)
Returning to the mid-80s, from there, it was my duty to find any and all wrestling on TV. Before WWF Superstars would take the spot for years, GLOW took over American Bandstand’s job of finishing my Saturday Morning TV watching every week. And it helped continue to introduce my interest in the opposite sex…
The Carlos Colon shows could be seen on our local Spanish channel. When Crockett bought the UWF, that was seen on WPIX, as was Joe Pedicino’s Pro Wrestling This Week recap show. This show enhanced my knowledge of the territories not seen in the NYC market, which was also accomplished through my new habit of collecting wrestling magazines. I’d go to the food stores and corner stores every Tuesday awaiting the newest titles to be put out onto the racks. When I found collectible stores with back issues, I learned more about the characters and stories from the years before I started watching.
I continued along this route throughout the nineties, as more wrestling companies came and went: USWA, GWF, AWF, and this little company out of Philly, ECW. I tried to never miss a show, even in the midst of the New Generation era of the WWF and Hulkamania’s Second Childhood in WCW. Then of course came the 90s boom period: the NWO. The Attitude Era. More ECW.
To this day, I still maintain an interest in the business, though I do not religiously watch everything and usually prefer to remember the product from the years my fandom was formed. Russo Booking and the HHH Reign of Terror were the first time periods that caused me to drop out of needing to see all wrestling. Still, despite that, and despite other unsavory tales I’ve heard about the business, I can never totally leave. In some ways that’s a good thing, though, as I’ve also formed several friendships through my interest, and through conventions and indy shows, I’ve actually got to meet several legendary wrestlers and managers.
My name is Paul and I am 37 years old from the United Kingdom, I strangely became a fan of wrestling before even watching on TV, everyone in my class at school had gotten into it and the WWF sticker album (the 1990 Merlin, black covered version to be exact) and everyone in my class were doing sticker swaps, which was the cool thing to do, so I joined in and my parents bought me the album, so I actually got to know the characters before even watching it on TV. By 1991 my parents acquired Sky TV and my first ever show to watch was Summerslam 1991 when my dad recorded it for my older cousin, I was absolutely hooked and in fact really annoyed that I couldn’t keep the tape recording, but instead from then on in began watching the weekly shows, mainly All American Wrestling which was aired on Sky One of a Sunday afternoon and my first ever official PPV recording was UK at the Royal Albert Hall on the 3rd October 1991, and my first big lead up PPV hype as the 1991 Survivor Series which still to this day for me had some of the best on going lead in storylines, from Randy Savage’s quest for reinstatement, to the Piper/Flair confrontation with Vince getting whacked with a chair, Bret Hart being doused in water and shocked by Mountie, Sid getting injured and put “OUT” of the Survivor Series by the masked El Diablo, same with Jim Neidhart with the Beverly Brothers attack but two of my all time favorites being Hulk Hogan attacked on the Funeral Parlour by Flair & The Undertaker and Randy Savage and Jake Roberts infamous Cobra attack, with action as hot as this who wouldn’t become hooked? The subsequent PPV builds to the Rumble ’92, Wrestlemania 8 and Summerslam 1992 were just as stellar. I continued to be a fan through the New Generation, the Attitude Era and the earlier days of Ruthless Aggression and as though as I got older the interest dropped off I will always be a life long fan. Ill always find myself watching old shows over and over on The Network, because you just cant beat the buzz that the nostalgia is able to bring you.
If you’d like to take part in this series, feel free to send an e-mail!
Thanks for reading and I look forward to the conversations!
31-year old currently living in Syracuse, New York. Longtime fan of the New York Mets, Chicago Bulls and Minnesota Vikings. Avid fan of professional wrestling and write reviews/articles on the product. Usually focusing on the old school wrestling.