Stories From A Wrestling Kid: Is It Real?

Yesterday I ran across some commentary on a recent article Al Gore wrote for Rolling Stone. I just got a chance to read the article…and the analogy of wrestling to politics and things in the “real world” stuck out to me as very….Gore.

I would know, that is my last name. And yes, Al Gore and I are distantly related. His father would sometimes come to visit his family in the little neighboring town to mine. The Gore’s in that town don’t claim my family. We tend to be, well, drunks and sinners…proud family tradition! LOL! My family is from Kountze, Texas. Those other Gore’s live in a neighboring small Southeast Texas town called Silsbee, Texas. Yep, where Mark Henry is from…laugh it up, fuckers. Anyway, yeah, we’re related no matter how much they want to deny it. Hell, Gore’s have always done things considered “taboo,” I’d be surprised if I wasn’t related to Mark Henry too!

A quote from Al got me thinking about the realness of wrestling in our lives:

The first time I remember hearing the question “is it real?” was when I went as a young boy to see a traveling show put on by “professional wrestlers” one summer evening in the gym of the Forks River Elementary School in Elmwood, Tennessee.

The evidence that it was real was palpable: “They’re really hurting each other! That’s real blood! Look a’there! They can’t fake that!” On the other hand, there was clearly a script (or in today’s language, a “narrative”), with good guys to cheer and bad guys to boo.

But the most unusual and in some ways most interesting character in these dramas was the referee: Whenever the bad guy committed a gross and obvious violation of the “rules” — such as they were — like using a metal folding chair to smack the good guy in the head, the referee always seemed to be preoccupied with one of the cornermen, or looking the other way. Yet whenever the good guy — after absorbing more abuse and unfairness than any reasonable person could tolerate — committed the slightest infraction, the referee was all over him. The answer to the question “Is it real?” seemed connected to the question of whether the referee was somehow confused about his role: Was he too an entertainer?

I don’t remember their being a lot of conversation in my house about wrestling being real or fake. I started watching wrestling when I was very young, about 3. I loved Hogan, Macho Man, Jake The Snake, and Meeeeeean Gene Okerlund! (And Doink too–don’t tell anyone) I remember specifically laying on the floor of our livingroom with my Father, watching Hogan and eating frozen corn (We were weird–don’t judge us! LOL). I would run around the room, hyped up on Hulkamania…sometimes I’d jump on my Father and we’d wrestle. I don’t have a lot of good memories with him, and sometimes I’m resentful he’s part of any good memories…but they are good memories. Those memories of wrestling are real to me.

It is not in the outcome of the programming that makes wrestling real. In that, it is clearly fake like all other television programming. The realness of wrestling comes from the memories it creates. All our memories and experiences coincide and congeal throughout our lives to form us. For me, and many other wrestling fans, memories of wrestling are part of that. Those characters and those matches live through us and we carry the feelings and experience of them through our lives. In this way, wrestling is real. It’s real because we are real.

Now that I’ve gotten super philosophical on you, I’ll leave you with a funny story. I often joke that the love of wrestling in the Gore family tree is genetic. A part of me really believes this. My evidence? Get this shit…

My family has always been big fans of Houston Wrestling. My great-grandfather, D.C. Gore, was the biggest in the family. There would be a match going on. Oh no! The ref is distracted! The Heel deals a chair shot to the back of the Face! The Face is down! Pinned! 1! 2! 3! The Heel wins the match!

CRASH!

What was that crash? Oh, that was Grandpappy putting his boot through the TV set! REAL. LIFE. This man was so passionate he would destroy the television when the bad guy won! Hahaha! That shit is hilarious to me. I don’t know much about this man, but I love this story about him. I never got to meet him, and that story brings him to life.

It makes him real.

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