WWE: When Pro Wrestling Isn’t Fake

Television can be used as a very powerful medium from time to time. It has provided us with some of the most memorable moments; from the final episode of M.A.S.H. to the dramatic Denver Broncos win in Super Bowl XXXII. These moments have touched our hearts, and they have managed to have some type of impact on how we view others, the world and ourselves in general. This fact was proven once again, in rather dramatic fashion, several years ago, and recently, on one of the most unlikely shows: WWE Monday Night RAW.

On May 23, 1999, Owen Hart, a superstar in the world of professional wrestling, was the victim of a tragic accident. Hart was performing an aerial stunt, when the cable snapped. He landed with such force that his neck was literally broken on impact, as many adults and children watched in horror. The following night, during the broadcast of the then WWF Monday Night Raw, all of the wrestlers paid tribute to their dear friend. I found this particularly moving because for the first time, we were able to see these athletes as never before. They shed their ring personalities, and they allowed themselves to be nothing more than human beings. They allowed themselves to be people in pain, and this was evident as each one fought back tears while sharing some very poignant memories of the fallen “King of Harts.”

Vince McMahon and son Shane, wrestlers Triple H and Chyna, Mick Foley, and Owen’s closest friend, Jeff Jarrett, struggled to speak. In a business where these people are paid to act and be over-the-top, their emotions were very, very real. Moreover, the recent death of the wrestling superstar known as “Latino Heat”, Eddie Guerrero, proved, yet again, that professional wrestlers are strongly linked to their fans, and that they grieve for them as they would any family member. That is truly powerful.

I have followed professional wrestling for a very long time, and I was really affected by the death of these men. I felt as though I lost members of my family. I then realized the reason I felt that way was due to the fact that I had “invited” these people into my home each week for years. I was especially fond of the Hart family, and to this day I am a huge fan of Owen Hart’s brother, Bret “The Hitman” Hart. Even now, Hart and Guerrero’s death seem like some sick and twisted nightmare to me, and I’m sure many of the fans of the WWE share my sentiment.

You can say professional wrestling is fake, without morals or tasteless. The fact is that it is easy to forget that something can go terribly wrong in that ring. One wrong move executed can result in paralysis, as in the case of the wrestler “Droz”, partial paralysis, as was the case with mega-star wrestler “Stone Cold Steve Austin”, or certain death. These people suffer broken ribs, legs, arms and necks, and it’s all done for the sake of entertainment. Owen Hart gave his life in the name of showmanship, and that is what makes his death all the more tragic. He loved his profession and his fans, and he should be remembered for that.

I just want to say one more thing, and this is for the younger readers. If you were fortunate enough to watch the landmark tributes to Hart and Guerrero, I want you to remember something. All too often, young people, especially guys, are told you have to be a man. You’re not supposed to cry or show your emotions. Well, during the tribute, some of the biggest and most powerful men in the world were reduced to tears. They had no problem showing the world their love, admiration and respect for their fallen comrades. If men in the weight category of 290 to 500 pounds can openly weep on national television, it is certainly okay for you to cry if you need to. And that’s the bottom line…because The G-man said so!

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