Last night I went to the wrestling, and not just any wrestling, it was the WWE Smackdown Australian Tour. You see, my older brother is a wrestling nut, so late last year when I saw the ads saying they were coming down under around the same time as his nineteenth birthday, I knew it would be a perfect present. We didn’t tell him until Saturday that we were going – a good decision as he started to cry when we told him and then spoke of nothing else (uh, I have previously mentioned he has down syndrome, right?). Mum and I didn’t want to go; we thought it would be a stadium full of drunk bogans and some steroid addicted actors pretending to punch each other, but still, we joined the entrance queue at Rod Laver in the pouring rain with the others. We had just bought mid range tickets (we’re not stupid enough to spend more than a thousand dollars on a sporting event) so we were pleasantly surprised when our seats were down on the floor, right next to the ramp the ‘superstars’ walk down to get to the ring, and quite close to the ring itself. Technically speaking, the seats around the side of the arena – like where we sat for tsweezy – had a better view of the actual action, but on the count of three at the end of a match we could jump up, literally, and run to the barrier and get to be mere centimeters away from the wrestlers (don’t think I’m some obsessive fan; I was family photo-taker and supervisor of my brother). We could be high fived, glared at, head butted or even spat on depending on which persona the wrestler walking down had to pretend to own.
The thing I love about wrestling is that it’s so choreographed. That the wrestler’s acting skills could rival that of anyone we officially recognize as an actor. That they know exactly when to jump, hit, punch, somersault, climb, ‘run away’, kick-out and finally be pinned. That they do the same routine night after night after night, and yet many
bogans fans are still under the impression it’s real. Throughout the night there was so much talk of rivalries and teams and grudges that it was often hard to forget that at the end of the day, The Big Show has an actual name. That Kane probably enjoys going home and wearing footsie pajamas while drinking chamomile tea. That Jack Swagger doesn’t go grocery shopping in his leotard. When I was in year eight, we had a visiting author come to school and he was telling us about a book he had written about the secret lives of wrestlers. In his version of events, once they get through the backstage curtain, they’re all outrageously flamboyant gay men. It made us thoroughly giggle at the time, but for all we know it’s the truth. Once they get out of sight and strip themselves of the masks and back-stories that millions of fans around the world know and love them for, they could be anyone. Someone’s dad, someone’s uncle, someone’s Godmother, someone’s best friend. We get so caught up in the theatricality of it all that we forget that they’re real people with real lives.
The whole idea of the real story behind the wrestler fascinates me because you never, ever hear it. I don’t know many of their real names, or even what they look like out of costume. On the way home we were discussing this, and I mentioned how bizarre it would be to walk into the local supermarket and see The Undertaker standing there in jeans and a t-shirt, buying dinner for his family. They have to have down-time, time out of their characters, and I’d love to be a fly on the wall just to see how they act. Of course they’d all be bifflez, travelling around with each other for most of the year has to lead to that (or mortal enemies) so they’d have dinner parties and their kids would have play dates. I’d want to gate crash a party they were all at as their actual selves. It would be legit. Thrilling stuff.
The only downside to the whole evening was the man sitting behind me. He was disgustingly rude and obnoxious, and so loud I swear the whole stadium could hear him. At one point he did apologise, blaming Tourrettes, but I wasn’t under the impression that Tourrettes sufferers couldn’t be clever and perfectly timed with their ticks (like during the diva match: “Nataylia show us your Genitallia” and to a butch looking diva: “YOU SUCK YOU SUCK…oh wait, I bet you don’t “YOU LICK YOU LICK”. I wish I was joking.) and that it caused one to be homophobic, racist, sexist and all round offensive. There were so many kids younger than me sitting nearby and at the start, the oh-so-clever chant of “YOU ARE A WANKER *clap clap clapclapclapclap* started going around the arena. The parents of these kids were shocked enough (even more so when some joined in) and then Mr. Drunk Bikie himself sat down. It’s fine to yell idiotic things when you’re at home with your tv, but when you’re in public with kids – and respectable adults – around, it’s just common courtesy to keep your mouth shut. One thing did make me laugh though, one of the wrestlers, Chavo Guerrero, is Mexican (or “Mexican”, I’m not sure) and MDB didn’t like him at all. His favourite thing to scream (other than various homophobic slurs I’m not going to write here because I found them so disgusting) was “GO BACK HOME” or “GET OUT OF OUR COUNTRY”, most likely mimicking things he has heard on tv when it’s filmed in America. He obviously missed the point of them all being American and this being Australia, and thus the insult really being irrelevant as it could apply to any of the wreslters.
It was certainly an experience, one I won’t forget in a long time at that. As far as memorable nights go, standing on a chair, taking pictures of sweaty seven-foot tall men wearing little more than undies while hearing derogatory comments screamed behind me certainly has to rank highly.
frangipani princess xoxo