The pyrotechnics would go off, the music would blast, and we'd all have fun, forget about life and act really stupid for a few hours.
We thought what was going on was innocent, mindless entertainment. Sure, it was scripted, very fake, and you didn't find the results of a match in the newspaper; alas, it was fun.
Sadly, those days ended for me almost a decade ago.
I used to watch wrestling casually, but now it's a serious joke; however, this time the joke is not on the audience, it's on the sport itself.
Now, pro wrestling has been caught into the tentacles of steroids and it does not look very good at all.
In fact, it's downright awful.
With the sensational Chris Benoit murder case, as well as death recently of Brian "Crush" Adams, wrestling is now on the national lexicon, and not for anything good.
Now the wrestling industry is under the microscope of Congress and the media, much like baseball was, but this time, the curtain has been lifted off the sports-entertainment, quasi-sport industry.
This week, the WWE went ahead and suspended 10 wrestlers that violated their "wellness" policy, mainly thanks to the pressure applied to them from Congress. The suspensions came in part of positive testing, as well as an investigation by CNN.
According to Shawn Assael of ESPN.com:
"The move comes as investigators from the Albany, N.Y., district attorney's office have been gathering information about steroid use by WWE wrestlers as part of a wide ranging investigation into online pharmacies and the doctors who write prescriptions for them.
WWE did not release the names of those suspended. A source close to the investigation said that WWE was told that the following wrestlers were among the clients of one of the pharmacies under investigation, Signature of Orlando: Shoichi Funaki, Dave Bautista, Adam "Edge" Copeland, Chris "Masters" Mordetsky, John "Johnny Nitro" Hennigan, and Shane Helms. Chris Benoit, the wrestler who killed his wife and son before hanging himself in June, was also a Signature client, as were two other wrestlers who recently died, Eddie Guerrero and Brian "Crush" Adams."
As we all know, there have been a littany of wrestlers who succumbed to early deaths in past decade, and with things as they are, it's time to end the lies and hiding.
The smoke has lifted and what's been exposed is not good.
Basically, most wrestling fans are not stupid -- they know their heroes are using drugs.
Wrestlers travel 200 plus days a year, travel cross country and around the world in rental cars or jets, thus how does one expect to keep up their muscle bound physiques?
Add to that the specter of recreational drugs and addictions, is it little wonder why wrestlers are dying off far sooner than the general population?
As you know, I am huge baseball fan. I often ask do people care if their heroes use drugs?
In sports, maybe not; however, in wrestling it's much different. Unlike baseball, a lot of wrestling fans grow attached emotionally to their favorite athlete/wrestler and maintain intense loyalty to them.
That's why it is so shocking when wrestlers who are built larger than life die so early. It seems for every Hulk Hogan, who has been able to parlay his wrestling career into other profitable ventures, there seems to be countless others who seem to go into an abyss.
If you add the performance enhancing and recreational drug use, plus the visualization of women, sex, cartoonish violence, the language used in their production, you have got to wonder the role of wrestling in the world of entertainment, and one that relies on a huge youth audience to remain profitable.
Yes, the WWE cannot be held responsible for what grown people put into their bodies; however, they have an obligation to make sure their employees are healthy.
If anyone cares about wrestling within the WWE and other organizations, let it return to what it once was -- fun, and just silly, mindless entertainment.
Maybe it is not a good idea to push the envelope in terms of entertainment and more importantly, the physique aspect.