Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Laying the Smackdown

Were you one of those who stayed up till 10:30pm (while hiding from your disapproving parents) to watch pro wrestling on IBC-13? Were you one of those who borrowed tapes of Wrestlemania, the Royal Rumble, and the Survivor Series and who would watch it till the tape was eaten up by your VCR? Were you one to scrounge the PDPI magazine stalls (before the advent of Book Sale) for Pro Wrestling Illustrated just for any morsel of info about your fave wrestlers?

I was one and to this day, it is an eternal happy thought of the rite of adolescence as much as sports and girls were. Only now I’m an adult and still enjoy it as much as my kids.

Pro wrestlers were my comic book heroes made flesh and blood. They were larger than life, lived large like rock stars, and had all the babes. Not bad for someone in tights and spandex. I loved the Hart Foundation and practiced the sharpshooter on my brother (yeah, I know you’re not supposed to try this at home but still...). I stomped around the house like the Bushwhackers. I grappled the clothesline like the Ultimate Warrior, and posed like the immortal Hulk Hogan. Yep, they sure were fun days (although my parents did wonder if I was a little strange and was the result of my overactive imagination).

My dad... taught me sports but decried my love for pro wrestling. Too fake. Too overly dramatic. Too much acting he said. At least they’re better actors than those who appeared in adult films, I replied in defense. No doubt my rebuttal raised his eyebrow that nearly reached his hairline (in a harbinger of the Rock’s People’s Eyebrow that was to come more than a decade later).

What makes pro wrestling interesting and fun to watch isn’t just the ring skills but the storylines that went along with them. Were you one of those who couldn’t wait for the impending implosion of the volatile tag team of Randy “the Macho Man” Savage and Hulk Hogan? Who was (that Victoria Principal look-alike) Ms. Elizabeth going to side with? Like wow. It was just as compelling as the next Tanduay-Ginebra skirmish.

The first ever pro wrestling match that I watched live was Wrestlemania XX at Madison Square Garden. Yup. It cost me as much as that pricey ticket to the Curiosa Tour at Randall’s Island but it was well worth it. In the days preceding Wrestlemania, the Nature Boy Rick Flair, the Undertaker, and Kane made an appearance at Toy’s R Us in Times Square and the line just snaked all the way towards 49th Street. Staring at the Undertaker seemed to be alright as he was almost as tall of those buildings and the neon signs of Broadway. One time I worked half day just to get the autographs and my pix taken with Torrie Wilson and Sable who were on the cover of a premiere men’s magazine (I was with a Latino friend of mine who does adult movies hahaha) only to find my boss in line as well. In fact, when they’d put those World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) DVDs on sale at the Hudson Mall in Jersey City (10 bucks a pop and that is mondo cheap), I had to contend with those oafs who pushed their way towards the Sale rack as if DVDs were going out of style that I nearly gave one of them a suplex off the cash register (Well, I thought about it ala Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes fame).

Professional wrestling’s popularity has boomed through the stratosphere and has left no one unturned. The catch phrases of DX, the Rock, and Stone Cold Steve Austin have become a part of the lingo of a new generation. I’d repeat some of them here except that this is... ahem, a business newspaper’s sports section not some frat house party. Long after Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant (ever see the Prince’s Bride?) seemed to have a monopoly on Hollywood, Kevin Nash (the Punisher), the Rock (countless movies now), Bill Goldberg (Universal Soldier), Triple H (Blade Trinity), and now John Cena (the upcoming movie titled the Marine) have invaded the big screen.

After last Saturday’s Smackdown at the Araneta Coliseum (the crowd during the Raw Tour was infinitely better), I was buying food for my kids at KFC in Shopwise when I inadvertently read the text of the lady in front of me --- Panalo si Batista. DQ kasi pumasok si Finlay at (William) Regal. Wow. Last time I checked, people texted the final scores of games; box scores even. Hey, it’s San Beda vs. UE for the National Championship, you know?

The merchandise and tickets I purchased from that night set me back several thousand quid, but to see my kids enjoy themselves for a couple of hours was worth it. The night before there were trucks and trucks of soldiers in full battle gear along EDSA and near the road leading down to Monte Vista where I live had a checkpoint (during the RAW Tour last time around, the metropolis was on coup alert). Whether this had any connection with the political stand-off in Makati I have no idea but the fact that the Smackdown Tour got my mind off the never-ending political foibles of this country was also worth it.

On our way to the car, we came across a man with s un-burned face who looked well into his forties and was noisily talking on his mobile phone:
Man: Uuwi ako ng Bacolod sa Monday. (pause) Sayang nga. Wala si Rey Mysterio. At panalo si Batista.

He must have been one of those who stayed up late at night to watch wrestling on IBC-13 while hiding from his parents.

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