Today I hang up my childhood like the Undertaker did his boots and relish in the good ole days.
For as long as I can remember I've been watching wrestling. Although ashamed to admit it at times, I was the true definition of a fanatic. Now in my late twenties, I'm much more reserved, but still a fan. But despite my attempt to mature and refine myself, I often give into temptation and pour a big bowl of cereal for dinner while sifting through my massive WWE Home Video collection; I almost always choose a title that highlights the Attitude era. And while my list of favorite wrestlers from the nineties is to mammoth to enumerate, other than the beer drinking, ass-whopping, mud-hole-stomping Stone Cold Steve Austin -- to whom I dedicated an entire wall in my room during high school -- the Undertaker was my champion, whether he held a title or not.
The Deadman was larger than life and he captivated my already vivid imagination. When WWE would come to Philly, I would beg my father to take us. The few times we did go and sat in the nosebleed section with my head touching the ceiling of the stadium, all the wrestlers looked like ants, but not 'Taker. When the building went dark and that bell rang its first toll, your body grew goosebumps and out walked a giant.
In every WWE video game -- if I wasn't playing as my pumped up, maxed-out "create-a-superstar" -- then I was the Undertaker. Every time I broke the rules and wrestled in the cafeteria of my middle school or during gym class, I was the Undertaker. Even last year when I was teaching drums to young inner-city kids after school and we had a bit of free time leftover, the boys would want to play wrestling with me -- I would choose the Undertaker. Their young minds, barely able to comprehend the paradiddles, were anxious to learn how to roll their eyes in the back of their head like I was doing when imitating "the Phenom of the WWE."
Without question the greatest character from the genius mind of Vince McMahon, the Undertaker was as much of a part of my childhood as church. And seeing as how I no longer attend the house of the Lord, I guess it's appropriate that I fully say bye-bye to boyhood and relinquish my belief in the power of the urn. I've known for over a decade now that pro-wrestling was scripted, but still I'm emotionally invested in the characters -- similar to the way America was with Ross and Rachel. Although he wasn't undefeated, the Undertaker was always victorious at WrestleMania; at least that was the case until last Sunday, when he was pinned cleaned by WWE part-timer, Brock Lesnar.
I didn't watch the PPV; instead I was discussing politics, race and the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King live on The Dr. Vibe Show -- another sign of my aging I guess. But when the show went off the air, I searched Twitter for #TheStreak and it was there, at that exact moment, when my childhood ended. My newsfeed was flooded with tweets from grown-ass men who were declaring themselves "heartbroken," "in need of therapy" and all together "pissed the fuck off." Regardless of their way of phrasing, the majority of the male WWE fans last night on Twitter joined me in saying "bye-bye boyhood."
Other than Shawn Michaels, who has already retired, the Undertaker was the only active performer who wrestled on the first episode of Monday Night Raw. Ending the streak last night ended an era. And while I can't say I will never watch WWE again, I can say for certain I'll never view it in the same way. Today I hang up my childhood like the Undertaker did his boots and relish in the good ole days.
Thank you 'Taker for the memories; you're a class act, a legend and without question, one of the greatest WWE superstars in history. Rest in Peace, 'Taker and bye-bye boyhood.
Thanks for reading. Until next time, I'm Flood the Drummerand I'm drumming for JUSTICE!