In 2004; I was still at high school, and was having a really horrible time with it. I didn’t like school, and to this day I am still very much haunted by that miserable place. But for a few short months, it was slightly more bearable; and that was all thanks to WWE SmackDown!
I have always known about Professional Wrestling, but never really cared for it. The most I had watched of any WWE show had been episodes of Heat on Channel 4 back in the late90’s-early 2000’s; and a few glimpses of stuff on Sky One. But then in the summer of 2004, about a week before I went on this camp that I used to go to (which I also didn’t enjoy all that greatly); with nothing to watch on TV, I landed on an episode of WWE SmackDown on SkyOne, and just sort of, well…watched it. But it was enough of a taste, to get me interested.
I can remember the episode involved Kurt Angle, who was SmackDown General Manger at the time, going on a sacking spree, before then getting sacked by Vince McMahon, who reinstated Angle as a wrestler, as his injury appeared fake; before then getting a lift in Eddie Guerrero‘s car. The episode also featured an appearance by The Undertaker, who I had briefly heard of a few months back; but this was the first time I saw him, and his rather glorious entrance. I can still remember the chilling words he gave to JBL who was WWE Champion at the time: “You, Me, SummerSlam!”
So, as the week at camp progressed, part of me was very excited to return home, and see how all this was resolved. My sudden fondness for the world of professional wrestling began to take hold more, as I scoured the Sky One broadcast schedule in the mornings, looking for more wrestling content. Through this I discovered Afterburn (which was SmackDown’s highlights show), as well as Bottom Line (which was Raw‘s highlights show, but at the time I had no real interest for it). But of course the real highlight for my wrestling week, became Saturday mornings on Sky One, which was when SmackDown was shown. Two glorious hours of great wrestling.
When my final year of high school began, instead of getting down in the dumps with my compulsory predicament, I was excited! Why? Because no matter how bad my week was, come Saturday morning; I was plumped in the chair, watching SmackDown. Occasionally I had to record it and watch it later whilst I helped Dad do the Saturday morning shop; but come Saturday, that was SmackDown time. And then a few months later, it was both SmackDown and Bottom Line time too. Three hours of wrestling, with enough material to help me forget the problems of the week, and get excited for the next Saturday along.
Every week I got more into Professional Wrestling, and discovered more too. I knew who Eddie Guerrero, Kurt Angle, and The Undertaker were, but as the weeks went by, I was flooded by more characters and more stories. I was introduced to Booker T and John Cena as they had a Best of Five series for the United States Championship. I got my first taste of the unorthodox style of Rob Van Dam. I saw the implosion of Billy Kidman from a face to a heel. I discovered the Dudley Boyz, and other less well remembered tag teams, as well as seeing the Big Show return to SmackDown and clear the ring. Plus I discovered the joy of Teddy Long shouting Holla Holla Holla too. All that and more as time went by (including the somewhat disappointing debut of Carlito, who didn’t really live up to the same level of hype as his debut vignette‘s).
During those early days it was clear who my favourite was: The Undertaker. But for a time, the Undertaker was off screen, and so I began to become more captivated by Booker T after his face turn, when he teamed up with RVD and Rey Mysterio to take on JBL, Kenzo Suzuki, and René Duprée. But then at the last minute The Undertaker returned, and that was that!
Then in November, my Mam took me and my Brother to see SmackDown live from the Manchester Arena. It was a fantastic show! It featured a Battle Royal, a WWE Championship match between JBL and Hardcore Holly, Eddie Guerrero driving a Mini with flashing lights, and best of all; The Undertaker, with entrance lights, sound and smoke. Add to this the discovery of Wrestling video games, such as Day of Reckoning, as well as buying the WWE Anthology album (which meant I could listen to wrestling theme’s outside the shows) and way more than I can currently remember to add, and you get what was probably the best part of my High School years!
Those few months were such a magical and positive time for me, but sadly it all came to a crashing halt! So, Sky decided to move Smackdown to Sky Sports, which we didn’t have. So come January 2005, no more SmackDown on SkyOne! I did get some wrestling stuff in the WWE Experience on Sundays, which was a highlights show of both SmackDown and Raw, but it just wasn’t the same!
Eventually we did get Sky Sports and I was able to watch SmackDown on Saturday mornings again, which was nice, and an even bigger bonus – I was no longer at that dreadful high school! I continued to watch wrestling for many years after that. I saw SmackDown at the Manchester Arena once more in 2006, then saw TNA twice there as well when I switched to watching that in about 2008. I also regularly went to see the Wrestling at the Morecambe Dome too.
I don’t watch wrestling much these days, but I still carry an interest for it, as it is still rather interesting. But it could perhaps be more for those wonderful few months back in 2004, when Wrestling was pretty much my life, a wonderful time I still carry a great fondness for!