Iíve gotten some feedback about my last blog; Attitude vs PG, where I actually defend the PG era. In it, I mentioned that I grew up on a product that was more geared towards kids. In the early 1990s, thatís what it was. Childish, silly, yet entertaining. So even though, this blog isnít a debate, Iím hoping you all enjoy. Maybe you share a similar story. Maybe you donít. This is my story of My First Memories of WrestlingÖ
It all starts with my parents. Before I was even thought of, and before they ever met each other, they were both wrestling fans. Weíre from Tennessee, and in the mid 80s the south was the hotbed of pro wrestling. My dad was a big time Jerry Lawler fan. He, like most young men of the 80s was a Ric Flair fan as well. My mom preferred the Rock Ní Roll Express, Ronnie Garvin, and the Dirty White Boy.
Now as the story goes, Smokey Mountain Wrestling was still under the NWA umbrella at the time, and like they did so often in the mid to late 1980s they were in my hometown of Knoxville, TN. Despite the fact that the WWE may make a rare appearance here once a year or so, back then we had big shows nearly every week. And at one of these shows, my dad sat where he sat each and every time wrestling was in town. On this night however, at the seat directly below him sat a young woman that caught his eye. This woman became his wife, and more importantly my mother.
Yes ladies and gentlemen, my parents MET at a wrestling event. Pretty damn cool, huh?
Fast forward to 1989 and KHill was born. A chubby baby with a mohawk (hair fell out oddly). Of course I donít remember this, as I was just a few months old, but we used to have a home video of my father holding me, watching wrestling, and my eyes are glued to the television. A wrestling fan at birth.
As I grew to a toddler, my parents didnít stop going to the events. By this point, Smokey Mountain Wrestling was itís own company, splitting from the NWA. My very first memories of pro wrestling are scarce. Iím 23 years old now, and the memories from 20 years ago are starting to fade away. But what I do remember is sitting in the balcony of the Knoxville Civic Center watching such names as Tracey Smothers, Ronnie Garvin, Ricky Morton, and Dirty White Boy.
None of them give me specific memories though. The first true memory I have is a night that Sting came in to wrestle. There was no one more important in my life at that time than Sting. I used to be terrified of getting my hair cut. I donít know, maybe it was scissors. The only way I got through it, was my mother sitting with me telling me Iím about to look like Sting. And boy I did. I had extremely blonde hair and every single time I got my hair cut just like Sting. I was a true Little Stinger.
So as you can imagine, when Sting came to town, I was excited to say the least. What I remember of that night is fuzzy, but I remember Sting was set up in the hallway doing meet & greets, selling merchandise, signing autographs, all those great things that you donít see anymore. I remember mom telling me that we were going to meet Sting. I of course had my face painted like Sting, and held my moms hand as we walked through the crowded hallways. Dad lifted me up to carry me, and over people heads in front of me, I saw my idol, my hero, my God. Sting. Decked out in all his great Sting gear. Just 100 feet from me. He even made eye contact with me. My reaction?
I suddenly flipped out. Started crying, and didnít want to look at him. I continued to cry until mom and dad gave up and we went back to our seats. To this day, I donít know why I did what I did. It even makes me mad if I think hard enough about it. I havenít gotten to meet many of my role models in life. So the one time I had the opportunity to meet one of the most influential idols, I blow it. Luckily without me knowing, my dad turned back around and managed to get a Sting T-Shirt for me. Which of course was an Adult size shirt, but I used it as a sleep shirt. I kept that shirt until my trailer burned in 2008.
Other incredibly early memories I have of wrestling are just as amusing. I remember watching a Saturday morning show. Tracey Smothers was another favorite of mine as a kid. In this match, the bad guy cheated and used an object (I know, shocking) and pinned Smothers. As the ref counted, Traceys legs tried to kickout, but he was too weak and couldnít. What makes this funny, is the fact that I was screaming at mom and the TV that Smothers kicked out. He cheated! That son of a bitch! My first curse word. I know my mother must have been proud.
As you can see, I was a Sting and Tracey Smothers fan. Two mega faces. But even before I started school, I found someone else to like. Someone else to mirror when I walked around the house, or jumping off the couch onto my grandfather (I defeated that man hundreds of times). This man was an obnoxious young punk dancing around in ridiculous attire. That man? Shawn Michaels.
I remember hearing that song, and dancing. No matter where I was, who I was with, or what my dad said. And boy did it drive him crazy. Not because he thought Shawn was a bad influence, but because once I started, I wouldnít stop. Even well after the song ended and the match started. Shawn Michaels was the first Ďbad guyí I truely liked. I still get chills when I hear Sexy Boy start up. I instantly get flashbacks of all those times of my childhood. And I still do the dance.
As time went on, and I got older, wrestling was changing. I was one of the young kids that wrestling was produced for in the early 1990s. I was the kid that tuned in on Saturday mornings in his super sized Sting shirt, playing with his wrestling figures (THEYíRE NOT DOLLS!!), and eating a bowl of fruity pebbels, falling in love with professional wrestling. When the acclaimed Attitude Era came to birth, I was still fairly young. Depending on when you consider the Era started, I was 7-9 years old. Still very young. But thankfully, my dad was still a fan and allowed me to watch it. Some may say thatís not a good parent, but to this day, I think about those days of sitting on the couch with dad, flipping back and forth between Raw and Nitro. It was a true bonding experience.
So I grew up, already several years into the business, just as a lot of kids my age started watching wrestling for the first time. When my parents got divorced in 1999, my wrestling fandom was in jeopardy. My dad moved out, and my mom wasnít watching anymore. I had a bedtime curfew. So it was hard to watch either raw or nitro. Luckily Dad could tape (yes TAPE) a show, but only one. Because VCRís were not DVRís. So I had to make a choice. Raw. Or Nitro. I chose Raw. Not because of Stone Cold. Not because of Mick Foley. But because of The Peopleís Champion, The Rock. I legit thought I was The Rock. At school I imitated Rockís walk. His facial expressions. The way he turned his head. The weird jerking motions he made with his arms when he went to grab his sunglasses. I mastered The Peopleís Eyebrow. I WAS The Rock.
The way I watched Raw was, Dad taped it every single week. Thank god wrestling dirt sheets and twitter wasnít around then, because I would go all day at school on Tuesday, not knowing what happened, just salivating, waiting for 3:15. And every Tuesday when the bell rang, dad was there. He handed me the tape so I could go home and watch last nights episode of Raw. Thatís dedication.
When the attitude era was fading away, and WWF became WWE, I was still just barely a teenager. I remember all my friends starting to lose interest. But I didnít. It was at this time, that I started studying the art of pro wrestling. I had no bedtime, so I was able to watch Raw LIVE! Sent my fandom into overdrive. I borrowed my great grandfathers tapes of old old old wrestling and started to find a love for the history of the business. I knew wrestling was Ďfakeí but it didnít bother me. Instead I wanted to know HOW it was done. What were the tricks? Who did it best? Thatís when I started following more and more heels. Because they were the coolest. They said the coolest thing on the mic. And usually they were the better ones in the ring.
The older I got, the less of my friends watched wrestling. Even my dad lost interest. But my interest never faded. The very first episode of Raw I missed, it was 2004 and it was only because for some reason we had a high school basketball game scheduled on a monday night, and I forgot to set up the VCR. I couldnít even focus on the game because I was so angry about missing Raw.
When a non wrestling fan says itís Ďfakeí or Ďstupidí I defend the sport with every fiber in my being. I even get bothered by someone whoís been watching wrestling for MAYBE a decade, and just discovered ROH or NOAH a year or so ago, yet claim they know so much about wrestling because they know the indy guys. Son, you donít know anything. Itís hard to say you know about the future, when you donít know the past.
Even now, as Iím 23 years old, Iím also 23 years into my obsession of professional wrestling. I believe itís why Iím so passionate about it. My love for the business is stronger today than ever. And that even shocks me. With twitter, dirt sheets, and that evil ďIWCĒ I somehow am able to sit down every Monday Night, just like Iíve done since I was a kid and watch Raw. Itís something I still look forward to all weekend long. Monday afternoon takes forever, because Iím counting down to 8:00. Itís that one chance for me to go back to all those memories I shared, and countless more. Itís more than something to watch. Itís my love. Itís bonding time with my Dad. Itís me dancing to Sexy Boy. Itís me calling myself The Most Electrifying Man in Greenback School. My passion. My life.