July 2, 2007
by Rishabh Kaul
‘Matches 145, clash!’
‘Oh shit! I can’t believe your Undertaker beat me!’
The melee of card clutching youngsters could be seen everywhere. School buses, corners of class rooms (when the teacher wasn’t looking obviously), canteens and homes. WWE (then WWF) was truly a sensation. In an era when Playstations hadn’t quite become available (leave alone affordable, wait a second, are they affordable yet?) to the Indian market and computer games hadn’t graduated above those that required a RAM of greater than 16 MB (ah, sweet reminiscence), WWE ruled. It was a plague, every kid would clutch on to it as though it were his life savings, religiously following the sport on TV. Cheering the face, cussing the heel and becoming a theist whenever a bra and panty match would take place, WWE had taken over.
The story line would be discussed over the lunch break with enthusiasm far exceeding that of when some folks sit down and chat about which soap had the maximum number of divorces. A difference of opinion would invoke fights of the highest order and would sometimes create havoc and even destroy friendships (and forge new bonds).
I would buy thermocol once every fortnight and would make a virtual table out of it. Then we’d have the greatest of all matches- TLC. The sheer joy of lifting my 12 year old langotiya yaar and pushing him through the chasms of hell and breaking the pseudo table (and hence winning the game according to the self imposed rules) would easily overshadow another moment. Glory indeed!
We would also partially heed their advice, the famous ads where the gods would themselves ask us to “not try this at home!” No kicking, no punching at the “shame shame”. We’d share their joy, their grief during the darkest hour and cheer them, these neo-gladiators with bodies of steel.
Post 2004, I gave up on wrestling. The unbelievable solace that WWF provided couldn’t be matched by the unbelievably juvenile plots of WWE. I didn’t see myself cheering these new stars for they didn’t have the same zeal, nor did they seem loyal to the game. And the old ones didn’t seem the same as before. They seemed to have evolved into something more commercial, someone the fans couldn’t associate with.
Or maybe I grew up.