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I Wish I Could Quit You: A Wrestling Fan’s Requiem by T.J. Love

Taken from a literal conversation I had the other day while watching a replay of Raw:

Friend: What’s Kane doing nowadays? He was such a bad-ass back in the day. Does he still wrestle?

Me: (cackles uncontrollably with slight tears) See for yourself…

Fast forwards to Kane segments…

Friend: …

Friend: …WHAT THE (expletive) IS THIS (expletive)?!!!

Look, guys. It’s time to face reality. WWE sucks right now. Like 2010 sucks. Like Santina winning a Wrestlemania match sucks. WWE is in a deep, dark depression right now. Like, literally, WWE can’t even. And we are expected to be that supportive friend who’s just supposed to pat them on the back and halfheartedly reassure them that everything is going to be all right, despite acknowledging that they are in a downward spiral and you are watching a car about to careen into another car. It’s hard enough to be fans and attempt to stomach this farce of a wrestling program week in and week out, running back to the welcoming arms of NXT or indie/international shows to ease the pain. But to have to try and explain to your friend who suddenly became too cool to be a wrestling fan anymore twelve years ago that the product you still watched over those twelve years has devolved into a blithering cesspool of shit is the ultimate form of torture.

How can you tell him how, in five total hours of over-bloated programming, there’s about twenty or thirty minutes of quality that makes it somehow watchable? “Then why don’t you just watch those parts?” How can you explain to him that WWE is in a down period and it will get better once Wrestlemania season rolls along? “Then why don’t you only watch it during that period of time?” How can you complain week in and week out about something, yet return to it each and every time like some abused puppy returning to its owner’s side after being kicked in the ribs with Sarah McLachlan music playing in the background?

“Why don’t you just not watch it?”

At no point have I said I would never watch WWE ever again (came close when Daniel Bryan didn’t win the Royal Rumble in 2013), but it’s getting increasingly harder to justify why I watch it, why I’m so hopelessly devoted to it, how even though I currently don’t have cable or internet, I harass my friends to let me use their laptop to catch up on each and every single monstrous minute and even though my eyes are ready to bleed, I still feel a perverse sense of satisfaction because I was able to catch up and talk smack about it with my internet buddies. And much like the dexterity it took to read that obscenely long sentence, it takes a lot to endure the insultingly pointless storylines and lackluster, rushed matches every week. But why do we still watch it? Surely there’s more to it for me than “don’t want to be left out” and the promise of a great match or The New Day cracking me the hell up? Is it tradition? Is it addiction?

I had a conversation with my friend after and tried to explain what exactly it is that keeps me coming back for more. And the single common denominator I found myself referring to was “retreat”. Like so many of us, I have embraced the fact that adulthood sucks. It’s something I obviously didn’t read the fine print on when I signed up for it and the responsibilities of adulating day in and day out necessitate some kind of break in the monotony. Alcohol is too expensive and dangerous for a daily activity. Video games become too repetitive for me at times. And punching people is illegal. So wrestling becomes my escape. Good. Bad. Ugly. It’s still fun for me to scream at the television at something I suspended my belief for. It’s still totally thrilling for me to MARK THE EFF OUT when something awesome happens. It’s still cathartic to cry when my favorites get emotional after hitting a milestone, even if it’s something simple as an amazing Ironwoman Match. All those components, far and few in-between as they may be, make it so it’s difficult to just say no, even for a week. There are sometimes where I just don’t want to subject myself to three hours of drivel just for some bright spots, and that’s when I (cheap plug) read The John Report or browse various wrestling groups, just to hear people complain or obsess or outcomes they feel should’ve happened because screw you logic.

I’ve always likened wrestling to soap operas or reality television; it’s a guilty pleasure that’s only slightly less fattening than ice cream at 4:25am or Taco Bell for breakfast. That’s how I broke it down to my friend. Sometimes you don’t want to use your brain for explaining why Kane has a Jekyll and Hyde thing going on, you just go with it. I do enough worrying and freaking out about life, sometimes I just want my intelligence insulted. It’s a buzz. It’s something I have to wipe my nose for after I’m done and cry shamefully because I did it again. Just because I don’t want to miss Brock Lesnar take someone to Suplex City, I’m willing to watch Brie Bella scream BRIE MODE and roll my eyes disdainfully as she beats Becky Lynch with the dreaded rollup of death.

At the end of the conversation, he chastised me for being weak and still watching it. All I could say was “It is what it is, bruh.”

It truly is.

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