Half-Nelson, Full-Nelson, Willie-Nelson

Part 4 in A Brief History of My Sporting Failures

Will I ever successfully defend the WWE Heavyweight Title at Croke Park?

I don’t know.

I might.

I’ve a lot on at the moment.

Like, the missus has to be dropped in to work and collected later on. The bins need to be put out. The bloody cobwebs in the utility room need doing again.

I’m just so busy right now that a title defence is the last thing on my mind…

I’ve previously spoken about embarrassing moments on the Gaelic football field and the soccer field, mainly involving my stupid big head. This chapter is going to deal with a sporting pursuit (hobby?) of mine that the majority of the civilised world finds embarrassing – pro wrestling. It won’t necessarily deal with personal public humiliation. I know that’s what people want, thankfully I’ve never done this publicly! However, when you look at the overall content it probably will satisfy your urge for schadenfreude.

IT’S FAKE!”, you scream.

“I FUCKING KNOW IT’S FAKE!”, I scream back, followed by a perfectly executed figure four leg-lock. WOOOOOOOO!!!

My love for wrestling started at a young age. It was handed down to me by an older townie cousin who had cable television.

I remember seeing Hulk Hogan for the first time and thinking, “Who the fuck is this guy? He’s got a moustache and receding hairline like Dad, but he’s fucking huge!” His energetic gibberish was hypnotizing my seven-year-old mind. He was flexing his huge muscles and screaming at the camera to some ‘oul boy called Mean Gene about prayers and vitamins and training and other nonsense. I couldn’t follow it, but I liked all those things. I mean I was an altar boy, I loved those tangy orange vitamins and football training on Saturday mornings. It felt like this Hogan lad was speaking directly to me!

Of course, as I got older and began to understand more about wrestling, I realised that this was a promo. He was talking to the audience, not me personally.

My Dad hated wrestling. Despised it. Knew it was a fake construct designed purely to take your money, and reminded me and my brother of the fact constantly. However, he made us go to mass every Sunday and gave the church a portion of his wages every month. The cheek. The irony. He was a monster heel – The Irony Sheikh.

Jesus, that was a terrible pun. I apologise profusely.

Most of my early consumption of wrestling was either in my cousin’s house or on VHS. It wasn’t until 2001 when we got satellite TV at home that we were able to watch Raw and Smackdown regularly. The sports package was initially added as a means to watch the British & Irish Lions tour in Australia that year. Wrestling was just an added bonus.

I was sixteen in 2001. My brother was fourteen. Nu-metal, Jackass and skateboard fashion were really popular in 2001 for some reason. Pro-wrestling also seemed to embrace this at the time. Entrance music had a nu-metal flavour. Some wrestlers wore baggy jeans. The matches sometimes had a stunt-like feel to them. There were lot of bandanas and motorbikes knocking about too.

I liked nu-metal music and the ‘ol baggy jeans and skate shoes. Could I skate though? Could I fuck! I had a skate-board for a bit, but we didn’t really have the smooth tarmac required to master the skills required. Gravel paths just didn’t allow you to gain enough velocity to perfect your balance on a board. I mostly just stood on it in the kitchen, holding the back of a kitchen chair and moving left to right. Tony fucking Hawk.

Wrestling had become ultra-violent. Blood, weapons, heavy metal etc. and I loved it. Although, being a source of ‘entertainment’ from America, they were constantly warning you to not try anything you watched at home. What a pointless warning! That was the best part, practicing moves on each other.

After a couple of years with satellite TV and access to wrestling around the clock my parents made a terrible error.

They bought my youngest sister a trampoline.

They may as well have enrolled us in wrestling school.

Adding fuel to this, WWE had just screened two seasons of the show Tough Enough where they put prospects through a gruelling training regime to become the next big WWE superstar. They showed you how to do the moves, then warned you not to do them. Bit of a contradiction there lads!

Our back garden was now Madison Square Garden.

Dreams were realised on that trampoline. Hearts were broken on that trampoline. Every move you can think of was executed on that trampoline. Power bombs, spine busters, moon-saults, back body drops, DDT’s, and if someone didn’t have the manners to call a move before performing it – there was always room for a good old-fashioned puck on the jaw.

One time we recorded our own pay per view. We had a camcorder and a CD with all the wrestlers theme songs. We took turns being King and JR when not ‘performing’. We even went north to get fireworks for the entrances. It was the most fun I’ve ever had, although watching it back now can make for disturbing viewing.

Not that anything disturbing actually happened.

The ‘main-event’ between my brother and I took place late in the evening. We didn’t have a light in the back yard and our camera didn’t really adapt well to the lack of one. Visually the match looks like two shadows jumping around the place. It’s the audio that is disturbing really. My brother’s voice was still in the process of breaking and was quite high-pitched when excited, whereas I had my deep manly man’s voice that I still have today. What was actually a high-octane, edge of your seat grudge match between two battle-weary competitors, sounds awfully like a sustained sexual assault thanks to my brother’s pleads of “No!”, “Stop!”, and “Jesus, that was too hard!”.

The commentary team of my little sister and cousin didn’t really help to tell the actual story either. For some reason they were very quiet throughout the match. I assure you this was due to the quality of the performance, and we’ll leave it at that.

Every good wrestler needs a proper enemy to be successful. The Rock had Stone Cold, Hulk Hogan had André the Giant, and Chris Benoit had his mind.

My enemy was my brother. Well, we weren’t enemy enemies, we just clashed a bit – like all brothers do.

My favourite move during our adolescence was ‘The Sly Dig’. I usually administered it when he was concentrating on reading or something. It drove him mad. His signature move was a combination of Rhino’s ‘Gore’ and Kane’s ‘Chokeslam’. He usually administered it after being provoked by me.

One time he nearly killed me. Well, no, I’m exaggerating here. He ‘kayfabe’ nearly killed me. (He actually just winded me!) He was looking for something in a cupboard beside our bathroom. I was in the kitchen getting a glass of water and asked him what he was doing. He didn’t respond. I took that as disrespecting his elder and proceeded to administer ‘The Sly Dig’. I regretted it instantly.

He fucking burst me.

A point to make before explaining what went down. We both played rugby. At the time, I was lanky for my age and played in the back row. The brother wasn’t yet at his full height, but was at full strength. He played in the front row and was used to dishing out pain and suffering in close quarters. I was more into being creative and dishing out pain from a distance. The brother had a serious temper on him when crossed. A bear that did not like being baited.

Hitting him ‘The Sly Dig’ in a close quarters situation was a massive error of judgement. He spun on his heels, got in to a low crouch, grabbed me by the shoulders and engaged. There was no pause. He was ahead of his time in that respect. Pushing off from his legs he rammed me through the closed bathroom door and through the glass shower door. Thankfully the glass didn’t shatter, just came free of the runners. I think the force of what he’d done shocked him more than it had shocked me, he just pointed at me and said, ‘I’ll kill you next time’. He meant it too. He had a crazy look in his eye that told me not to mess with him again. I considered it, but of course in my heart of hearts, I knew that I’d tackle him again.

Unfortunately, this incident occurred on a Saturday. A wet Saturday. That meant Dad was in the house. And he heard the commotion. How could he not? His six foot, fifteen stone (those were the Halcyon days!) first born son had just been rammed through two doors by his Tasmanian Devil second born son.

Well the brother had disappeared, I was just catching my breath and trying to figure out a way to spin this story in my favour if he ever told anyone about it, when Dad came in to the bathroom and witnessed the destruction. Man, I don’t know what’s worse, getting your ass handed to you by your brother, or the look of absolute bewilderment and disappointment that a parent gives you when you’ve been involved in something completely idiotic.

Dad blamed wrestling of course. I blamed letting the young fella play rugby. That accusation only made things worse.

That Friday night we couldn’t watch RAW, we had to watch the Late-Late show.

The ‘oul boy could be a monster heel when he wanted to.

Reading this back, it is pretty embarrassing actually. What the fuck was I at buying a skateboard?

 

Read previous chapters in this series here:

Full Kit Chancer

Ollie & Folly in The GAA

Should I have been a contender?

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