That may be one of the most original, iconic and classic catchphrases anyone remembers back in the 1990’s. Sure boxing’s Ali had his line, “Float like a butterfly, Sting like a bee“ and basketball’s Jordan had his slogan, “Be like Mike,“ but nothing really stuck to me as much as these two words. Little did I know that those words would lead me to how I found my own personality when I was a teenager.
In my high school years (circa 1998- 2002), I was your typical teen who seemed to have no identity whatsoever besides being a student and a football player. I lacked certain traits that defined me as my own person. All I had that time was school, varsity practice and tons of anxiety. For lack of a better term, I was boring.
Then one day, I started tuning in to this show on tv. It was the World Wrestling Federation. And it changed me forever.
The Attitude era was the time where the likes of Hulk Hogan, Macho Man and Ultimate Warrior were getting old and already gone from the scene. The show at this time presented a different format; pushing the envelope wherein characters were presented as the radicals of its generation.
Some of the stars of this era were The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Mick Foley and many others. But if I were to have had one true favorite, it would be the ensemble of Degeneration X.
The core group was comprised of Shawn “The Heartbreak Kid” Michaels who was one half of the tag team “The Rockers” back in the early nineties. The other co-leader of the group was Triple H, also known as The Game. The muscle and bodyguard of DX was a woman named Chyna. Later on, it became a family when The New Age Outlaws (Road Dogg Jesse James and Mr. Ass Billy Gunn) and X-Pac were added. Imagine these six individuals coming together to make trouble, create anarchy but at the same time win all the belts in the WWF, it was just great.
They were a group of guys who wanted to “stick it to the man,” not conforming to the norms that people were used to in wrestling.
Deviant and rebellious, they would go on playing pranks on the boss, Vince McMahon, messing with the rest of the wrestling roster and creating so much noise that they even had the audacity to pull up on another wrestling show inside a military tank. They were insane. And yes, they crotch chopped everyone and made saying “suck it“ famous.
I simply love DX.
It would be an understatement to say, but it was a great time to be a wrestling fan during those days. Lead by DX, their era brought forth most of the iconic and revered wrestling personalities in the WWF. Imagine these guys mouthing off, giving great microphone work on camera and following it up with the most electrifying matches on television. It was so much fun. I really enjoyed watching, much so that it became somewhat a religion for me to know everything about the WWF.
Now these group of guys, like any other person on the planet, matured. Triple H is now COO of the company and married to the owner’s daughter. Shawn Michaels is retired and a born again Christian. Road Dogg and Mr. Ass are trainers in the company’s developmental program. And X-pac… well, he had a sex tape. Point is they all grew up, but somehow, I also grew up with them. I graduated, got a job and got married. Funny how I associate part of my life with them, like I was part of that era as well.
Watching them made a big impact on me. It was so big that I started to think that I can be my own person, that I can be who I wanted to be. I started to be more sociable, especially with my classmates. We would converse about the latest episodes of the WWF, do the DX finishing moves on each other and crank out their theme song on our CD players over and over again. Little by little I was beginning to realize I can break out of my shell and be who I wanted to be.
To this day I am a wrestling fanatic. I’d probably be the best person to ask about the latest feuds, rumored storylines that will come up on tv or even other promotions that the common fan would not know. Seems a bit dorky, but other people have the NBA or their comics so I think it’s alright. It makes me my own person I guess, having authority in discussing a subject alien to other people.
So what’s the point of all this hurrah about wrestling? Did it save me from being subjected to failed relationships in the past? Did it make me have a better job when I got older? Did it even bring me wealth and fortune ? The answer is no. But what I can say is that I am thankful I got to watch the WWF. It was a venue for me to discover how I could be my own person. It made me realize that developing your own personality makes people realize you are relevant. Sure, my heroes are made up wrestling characters on television built to entertain. But the underlying impression for me was they were not holding back. Life does give me wrestling heels to combat everyday but I get back hard and just remember a couple of crazy guys back in the day. If you’re not down with that, I’ve got two words for you…