Something is different about my pasta. When I was a teenager I used to go with my wife, just my teen dream at the time, to a restaurant in our hometown. I never failed to order a specific pasta dish each and every time that we would go. I loved it. It was my absolute most favorite meal that I would eat from any restaurant. We moved away in 2004. We have always made time to go back home and visit friends and family, but my pasta dish has eluded me. We are always so busy and there is just not enough time to push everything and everyone aside so I can have a foodgasm. Well guess what? This week I made it home for another visit and got to indulge in pasta heaven. Things were very different right away as we stepped inside and noticed the interior remodeling they had done. It was certainly a different atmosphere, but it was nice. We took our seats and awaited our orders. My ten-month-old waited on my lap as my drool dripped into his hair. As they sat the dish in front of me, something immediately seemed off. I didn’t recognize the food in front of me. I knew that there was pasta, chicken, peppers, onions, and tomatoes in a creamy and spicy sauce, but how it all looked together was not what I remembered. Nevertheless I dug in. It was good, but not great. It was okay, just okay. You may wonder why a wrestling column is featuring a paragraph dedicated to pasta dish. The fact is the way I felt about that pasta dish is how so many wrestling fans sometimes feel about their beloved pastime. There are times when we forget exactly what it is we used to know, and allow our memories to betray us, leading us to critique the present and not appreciate what we have in front of us.
Sometime ago Wrestleview ran a poll asking readers what they preferred between the Attitude Era and the current WWE product. The results were overwhelmingly in support AE. It’s perfectly understandable. After all, that was when we had the Monday Night Wars, the Steve Austin-Vince McMahon feud, DX, and adult-oriented storylines. There was so much going on that you felt like you could never miss an episode. I remember as a teenager flipping back and forth between Raw and Nitro to keep up with both. When Nitro went off the air in 2001, it felt kind of boring to sit and watch only one program at a time. To many fans, those were the glory days. For fans that grew up in the time, it’s hard to argue with them if that is all they have to compare it to. When those days kicked off, 1980s fans were crying bloody murder over the damage done to the business. Many fans felt like they could not longer watch.
In recent years I have found myself pulling away from the Attitude Era and enjoying today’s wrestling more and more. I feel like the roster is stronger overall and the match quality is better up and down the card. But that is just me. It is fine for people to enjoy yesteryear more than today. I just don’t like seeing so many unable to let themselves enjoy the show because they are hesitant to let go of how they think things should be and accepting them as they are. I cannot tell you how many times I meet or talk to someone who used to be a wrestling fan that says they just cannot watch it nowadays. Most of them will say things have just gotten so over the top that they just cannot take it seriously anymore. Apparently a storyline where Mark Henry’s one hundred year old girlfriend giving birth to a hand is more believable than a storyline where Henry, a giant, dominates the roster and wins the World Heavyweight Championship. Many of these fans have become like those who could not watch when the Attitude Era began. Just because we have an idea of what something should be based off a memory does not mean it always has to be that way. Imagine you move away from your neighborhood and come back. We can’t expect that everyone will stay the same and not move on with their lives just because it will be convenient for us when we come back someday.
As disappointed as I was with my pasta, I soon remembered that I used to drink a nearly a gallon of water just to get it down because the sauce was so spicy. It was even worse an hour later when I would belch and burn my esophagus all over again. Today, the chicken tastes better, the vegetables are fresher, and the sauce is gives you a kick without putting you in the hospital. I had built up this trivial dinner to something so big in my mind that I forgot what it really was. I see this happen with a lot of wrestling fans, myself included. We build up how great things were in our heads that nothing could ever match up. Yet when you go back and watch old footage, it doesn’t always stack up to what you thought it was. Some of that is getting caught up in the moment. That will often happen when watching a match live. If you go back a couple of days later, it can look considerably different. If only a few days can do that, a few years can be flat out deceiving in how they inflate what we think we saw. This happened to me just this week. When I first saw the 1998 Starrcade match between Kevin Nash and Bill Goldberg, I didn’t really care for it. Later on, a repeated viewing made me like it. Just this week I went back and watched the Starrcade DVD again and found myself not liking the match as much as I thought I had. Wrestling has most certainly changed, but life goes on.
Things have changed, but they can still be enjoyable. The roster is better and you have the occasional throwback reference to the days of old. Just think, someday there will be a generation of wrestling fans hailing the late 2000s as some of the greatest days of wrestling, longing for things to be the way they were all over again. Even though wrestling continues to change and evolve, so do its fans.