Monday Night Football gets worse every year. Despite the best intentions of the schedulers, they have developed a knack for choosing the wrong games with the wrong teams at the wrong times. Last night was no different. The Packers are halfway down the slippery slope to the ineptitude of their 1980s years while the Panthers are trying valiantly to prove everyone who picked them for the Super Bowl dead wrong. I never thought I’d say this, but thank goodness for Jimmy Snuka.
I usually watch the Monday night game at a sports-bar with a couple of friends of mine. On the large bank of TVs, the game was on the center, feature TV, while various other sports-type shows graced the surrounding, satelite screens. One of these screens is inevitably turned to wrestling. To be specific, the WWE product, Monday Night Raw.
I watched wrestling in high school, “back in the day” as it were. Today’s product is less wrestling than a mixture of bizarre soap opera and soft porn. Last night was some special event (I couldn’t tell what exactly because the volume was muted). A bunch of the old-school wrestlers, the wrestlers of my youth, were in attendance. As they panned across the assembled squared-circle greats, we picked out “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, “The Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiasi, “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes, and others. Here was Mean Gene. There was Jimmy Hart. Over in the back was Nicholai Volkoff. Who’s that guy? My friend and I, we began to craft a sort-of fantasy, where the old-schoolers would rise up out of their chairs and take over the ring. But it was just a fantasy, wasn’t it?
No! It was real! …Okay it wasn’t real but it happened. There they were, the mighty assemblage of past stars in the ring for a ceremony (I guess – again, no volume) when some scrub decides to come into the ring and start some trouble. We held our collective breaths. The scrub says his piece. Then there’s a pause. A long pause. A pause pregnant with anticipation.
Then he’s hit – first by Hacksaw, then by… somebody else, then Dusty Rhodes does his awful dance and gives him an elbow to the head. The scrub teeters, spins, stumbles, bumbles, and wheels drunkenly right into the Von Erich claw! Felled and flat on the mat from the impact of the famed claw attack, a very old, worn out Jimmy Snuka scrambles up to the top turnbuckle. He can’t, he won’t, it’ll kill him… he does! The crowd goes wild!
By crowd, I’m talking about the patrons of the sports bar. I can only assume how the patrons of the live event felt. There we were, grown men, for a few moments transported back to our youth, when these men, now old, out-of-shape, faded from prime, were monsters of the mat, when we believed the Von Erich claw might actually kill a man, when we wondered how anyone survived a top rope splash from the Superfly, when we thought the American Dream’s dance added power to his punches.
The moment passed. In the fourth quarter, Brett Favre made a game of the up-until-then one-sided contest. We returned to our drinks and to the comfortably droning commentary of Al Michaels. But that wasn’t the night. The night belonged to Snuka and the other old men of the wrestling ring who stole the show one last time.