Fireworks start off Monday evening’s World Wrestling Federation event “Raw is War” with a rowdy crowd cheering and chanting in Fort Worth, Texas. Above his theme music, wrestling superstar The Rock challenges Stone Cold Steve Austin for a rematch from Sunday night’s Wrestlemania X-Seven, the proclaimed Super Bowl of the WWF.
The commentator screams into the microphone that Stone Cold sold his soul to the devil himself – Vince McMahon – by collaborating with him to win Sunday night’s championship title as the crowd roars. The Rock is granted his rematch after ramming into McMahon several times. The rematch is in a steel cage.
That is a typical story line from the WWF, one of two main companies that stage televised wrestling events complete with mini-dramas and skits around the country. And with the WWF’s recent mergers with other wrestling organizations, fans are finding it even harder to leave their seats.
Seniors Marissa Miller and Heather Sheydwasser consider themselves huge fans of the WWF. They even flew to Houston and spent almost $1,000 to attend championship matches at Wrestlemania X-Seven last week. On their way back, Miller and Sheydwasser met wrestler Eddie Guerrero and took pictures with him.
Miller’s infatuation with wrestling began when she was eight years old. She does not know what made her start watching the WWF – her family did not like it – but she said she remembers sneaking downstairs after her bedtime to catch some of the late-night matches on TV. Miller said she stopped watching the shows for a while but started to get back into it again with her roommate Sheydwasser.
“I watch it for entertainment.” Miller said. “It is a cathartic experience, you can release all your emotions screaming at that TV.”
For college students the WWF is a great way to relieve stress and forget about all the things going on, Miller said. It is exciting, addicting and never boring.
Miller said the WWF entertains her because the story lines are fun and the wrestlers have interesting personalities. Miller and Sheydwasser also admit that they watch WWF because a lot of the wrestlers are good looking.
The students said they watch the WWF on TV regularly and try to attend as many events as they can. They have some wrestling memorabilia, but do not go overboard with the decorating.
“I have some T-shirts for nostalgia, a calendar and a few posters that are sitting in my closet,” Miller said.
The stereotypes of WWF fans sometimes ring true the women said, but they do not apply to everyone.
Miller said people roll their eyes at her when she mentions that she is a WWF fan, and she becomes offended when people look down on her for watching wrestling. She said she feels the need to defend WWF and her interest in it.
“If you don’t want to watch it, change the channel,” she said.
Freshmen Henry Jinich said he does not watch WWF because the wrestling in uninteresting and fake. He said it should not be considered a real sport because everything is staged.
“The wrestlers take drugs and steroids, it’s not an athletic sport,” he said.
Jinich said other people might watch it because they find it interesting or entertaining. The drama and story lines are all part of an attempt to get more people to watch the matches.
“It’s a form of entertainment, like if you go to Broadway or Las Vegas to watch a show,” he said.
Jinich said he thinks no particular sex watches WWF more than the other, but in his opinion women do not admit tuning in as much as men do.
Sophomores Jonathan Bartholamul and Ryan Moss said they occasionally watch the WWF and both men have attended WWF events when they were tapped in town.
Bartholamul attended WWF’s “Raw is War” when it came to D.C. last month and said he only agreed to go because he received front-row tickets. He said he was surprised that he enjoyed being there and really got into the atmosphere at the matches.
If he is flipping through TV channels and happens to come across a match, Bartholamul said he would watch for about 10 minutes and then go back to flipping through the channels.
“There are better things on TV,” he said. “(WWF) is good for a laugh sometimes but I’m not that interested in it.”
When Bartholamul was younger, he said he regularly watched the WWF. He remembered when he would watch matches between Hulk Hogan and Iron Sheik. Bartholamul and Moss both said they feel the WWF was more wrestling and less drama in the past compared to wrestling now.
“Now it’s like the soap opera for men,” Moss said.
Both men said the WWF is only entertainment and does not qualify as a professional sport. They said the WWF is a variation between sports and entertainment.
As for female wrestlers, Bartholamul said they belong in the ring, especially for entertainment. Moss said he agrees.
“There’s something to be said about two women rolling around wrestling,” Moss said.