Men In Tights, Brought To You By Testosterone

This week saw the passing of a man who had made a living by carrying around a mystical urn that granted powers to his friend, an undead beast with eyes so empty and soulless, you’d think they were donated by Arjun Rampal. If this makes no sense, then you’ve missed out on one of the most important aspects of childhood – watching grown men fake-fight each other for a shiny golden belt that signified the triumph of blood, sweat and steroids.

I’m talking about William Moody aka Paul Bearer, manager to The Undertaker, and one of the most iconic characters in WWE WWF history. He was a fat, chalk-faced man – imagine a Neil Nitin Gadkari – whose superpower was distracting the Undertaker’s opponents with animated shrieks, thus allowing him to kill them with his finishing move, ‘The Tombstone Piledriver’, because calling it ‘98% Chance Of Quadriplegia’ would be too boring.

When I, and guys my age, heard the news, we were immediately taken back to when we were kids who believed in undead wrestlers and magical urns, and when puberty hit, we believed in Silicone Sable as well. Several times a day. On cold, lonely nights too.

I clearly remember the first time I watched wrestling. It was 1993, and I turned on the TV to see a man in a wrestling ring, wearing what was essentially an America-coloured thong, preening in front of a three-mirror setup, and flexing biceps the size of speed-breakers. This was “The Narcissist Lex Luger”, who’d have an aneurysm if he ever tried to spell ‘Narcissist’. But that’s okay, because he only had to be good at two things: a) Working out – I’m pretty sure he had triceps on his fingers as well, and b) Bodyslamming Yokozuna (Japanese word that means ‘Ram Kapoor’)

After that, I was hooked, just like every other kid I knew. Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant, The British Bulldog, Tatanka, the Ultimate Warrior, Macho Man Randy Savage, Rowdy Roddy Piper, Typhoon, Razor Ramon, Papa Shango, Repo Man, Doink the Clown, Bart Gunn, Billy Gunn, Bam Bam Bigelow, Shawn Michaels and Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart are just a few of the names that one can use to hit the requisite word count for this column.

OK no, these were the stars we idolised and more importantly, these are the men that made me realise that having kids, especially boys, is a bad idea. Because no matter what you do, they will find the stupidest way to hurt themselves, and practise until they get it right.

Case in point: The Unofficial Unsupervised Wrestling Championships, Class V. These were held every lunch break, and featured my friends and I trying out every move we’d seen on TV, but on a concrete surface. I’m talking bodyslams, chokeslams, dropkicks, submission holds and a bastardised version of the Razor’s Edge, which is where you stand back to back with your opponent, hoist him up by the arms, slam him down neck first and hope his parents don’t find out. (DISCLAIMER: If there are any kids reading this, please do not try any of these moves ever. They will cause severe brain trauma, which makes you do daft things like become a writer.)

The appeal didn’t just lie in the fact that Bret Hart never had to do stoopid homework, or that teachers would never scold the Ultimate Warrior for not getting a haircut. No, these guys were star athletes, and watching a perfectly executed Sweet Chin Music, Stunner or Tombstone was as much fun as watching a Sachin straight drive. Probably more, because a Sachin straight drive never hurt anyone, except maybe Kambli.

(My parents did try to convince me that wrestling was fake and scripted. But you don’t say that to an eight-year-old boy. It’s like telling the Pope that the whole ‘Ctrl+R Jesus’ miracle didn’t really happen.)

The last contest that I followed keenly was the Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart Iron Man championship match at Wrestlemania XII, an epic hour long bout that Michaels won. His victory was made even more incredible by the fact that he wore crotch-hugging pants festooned with sequinned hearts, and still managed to look tough. Then again, The Hitman wore purple-pink sunglasses.

I have no clue about the WWE now, but I’m sure there are enough guys jumping about for the benefit of kids and the mentally-deficient. I’d like to keep it that way and not mess with the nostalgia in my head. Besides, there’s no way I’d be able to pull off a Razor’s Edge now. Too much body fat and common sense.

P.S. RIP, Paul Bearer.

(Note: This is my HT column dated 10th March, 2013. Cross-posted from here.)


12 responses to “Men In Tights, Brought To You By Testosterone

  1. All those childhood memories just came rushing back. I remember this one trip at Ooty where myself and my bro got this one-hour lecture from the entire family that watching WWE could completely hamper our innocent minds and the fact that no blood ever came when these ppl wrestled. That debate went on forever….
    Great piece 🙂

  2. Reblogged this on The Art of Monologuing. and commented:
    I used to love The Undertaker & was simply petrified of Paul Bearer…. 😀

  3. Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart was my fav. Sigh. WWF was awesome. Great piece… 🙂

  4. Yokozuna (Japanese word that means ‘Ram Kapoor’)

    HOW do you keep coming up with these man. Super funny column. Maybe more so cos all those memories kept flooding back. Good work 🙂

  5. Oh God! You are brilliant.
    I laughed for a full five minutes at Neil Nitin Gadkari. That was sheer brilliance. That is EXACTLY what the Paul Bearer looks like 😀
    You just made me completely relive my childhood but I am disappointed that you didn’t mention the WWF cards we used to play. The height, weight, biceps card game?
    Also I think you are very sadly mistaken if you think that having a girl child would mean that she would delicately play with a barbie doll and turn up her nose at WWF.
    I was the meanest bodyslammer and chokeslammer in my mohalla of kids (and I was just an 8 year old girl in 1994). It was a common refrain in my house that one day my parents would come back home and find me in the police station and my sister in the hospital after I had killed her while executing a Razor’s edge.
    WWF was utterly fascinating for me and I am proud to admit that I still follow it quite religiously and a part of me still believes that all those moves are real.
    Loved this post! 🙂

  6. too awesome! the memories, the childhood heroes, the games and of course not to mention Bret Hart Hitman who I adored…

  7. Just dropping by to observe one minute’s silence for the Paul Bearer – Pallbearer pun that nobody seems to have noticed.

  8. Good fun. You can always execute Razor’s Edge in your blog posts! ;-))

  9. finally a lot of involuntary guffaws! the last couple of posts were trying too hard! this was perfection! Yokozuna and Neil Nitin Gadkari! make neil nitin gadkari a member of your hall of fame ( of insults)

  10. Good piece, re-awakening childhood nostalgia. Also, judging by the number of female commentators (myself included) and as mentioned by commentator ‘R’, that even girls practiced wrestling moves, WWF had kids of both genders equally enthralled! 🙂

  11. Neil Nitin Gadkari and Japanese Ram Kapoor… Brilliant !!!!

  12. lol.. faaakin hilarious man!

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