By Graham "GSM" Matthews
It's a question I've been asked a few times before in my #AskGSM videos for YouTube, and my answer has never changed: nothing. Granted, I say that now and there could be something that happens down the line that changes my mind, but nothing I could possibly think would ever make me stop watching wrestling. It's just so ingrained in my everyday life, and not in the way that I simply tune in every Monday to watch Raw and that's it. For me, wrestling is much more than that, and therefore will never, ever be going away.
I mean, the fact I'm writing this blog right now says it all; I devote essentially all of my time to wrestling. That's not to say I don't spend time doing other stuff, but wrestling for me has become much more than just a hobby. Sure, it started out that way when I officially became a fan in April 2008, but as time passed and I got older, I found more ways to get involved with the business and my passion for the product only grew. It's funny because that tends to be the opposite with many people: they fall out of love with wrestling the older they get. Not me.
I watched every week for years, but it wasn't until I started writing for Bleacher Report in May 2010 and other blogs that I found out I could combine two things I've always loved so much: wrestling and writing. As I got older and busier, I couldn't do my fantasy wrestling promotion with my younger brother anymore, but I could write about what I was watching every week and hone my skills as a writer. It wasn't even my intention to ever make money off my writings, that just kind of came along last year and it's been a perk. With or without money for my work, I will continue to do what I do because I love it.
Now, back to the original question: what you make you stop watching wrestling? If you started watching young, chances are almost everyone you knew that watched with out are no longer fans. It's just the way it works. Yes, the product not being edgy and whatnot definitely played a part in that, but it's also something kids simply outgrow just like they would anything else they occupied their time with in elementary and middle school. It's sad but true.
I've seen this happen before my very eyes. I don't have many "wrestling" friends, but the ones I do, most of them I met as a late teenager/adult anyway. So, I didn't go through that phase where all of my friends outgrew it, but that was the case with people I talk to now. For example, two old friends of mine I recently reconnected with after six years watched way back when and we discussed at dinner all of their favorites from the mid-2000s. A lot of cool people I met in college my freshmen year, when they discovered I was a wrestling fan, they shared their memories with me of when they watched as kids.
The only person I've witnessed firsthand stop watching wrestling was my aforementioned younger brother. He's five years younger than I am, so obviously, he's going to like almost anything that I do because I was an influence to him. We'd watch Raw before school via DVR every Tuesday morning, and that continued on for about maybe a year or so. By 2010, he didn't watch at all with me, probably because he lost interest. There was never one point where he stopped watching, it was more of a gradual process. He certainly doesn't watch now (although he'll tolerate it of course) and I don't think anything will ever make him a regular fan again, but it didn't surprise me considering watching wrestling isn't the "cool" thing to do nowadays and many kids sadly fall victim to peer pressure.
There were countless times in my adolescence, specifically in my first year of being a wrestling fan, that bad grades and behavior (mostly the former) were blamed on me watching wrestling. It didn't make me violent or anything along those lines, but rather I spent too much time watching it and would blow off homework to watch it. Of course, I don't condone that and have since learned from my mistakes. Everyone in my family would tolerate me watching it with the exception of my mother who absolutely despised it and still hates wrestling to this day, even though it's been seven years and she knows how I make money off it.
My point is that although my mom blamed wrestling for all my flaws, I never stopped watching. I remember one instance where I was so upset with myself that I took down all my wrestling posters and stuffed them under my bed before going downstairs to turn on ESPN and watch a baseball game with tears in my eyes because that's what I thought my mom wanted me to do. I was no more than a half hour or so into the game before I got incredibly bored, took all my posters back out and turned on a wrestling program. I haven't turned back since.
As I've said in the past, the only time I ever even contemplated of stopping watching wrestling all together was when CM Punk left WWE in 2014. That may sound ridiuclous, but he had been my favorite for such a long time that I struggled to find reasons to keep watching in addition to the product being so boring at that time. Then I realized that essentially all that do has to do with wrestling and there was zero chance of me quitting on it.
Besides, wrestling has done so much good for me that it's virtually impossible for me to turn away at this point. In addition to meeting countless of amazing people both in reality and over the Internet, I've learned valuable life lessons, modeled myself after my wrestling heroes and even learned a few new words (thanks to Michael Cole and the rest of the commentary team for helping me expand my vocabulary). I honestly have zero clue who or where I would be in life right now if it hadn't been for wrestling.
I don't want to get into specifics about why I watch wrestling because I feel that's a whole other article in of itself, but the best way to possibly put it is this: professional wrestling is basically your favorite TV show that never ends. My favorite series growing up was Walker, Texas Ranger along with Monk and Psych. With Walker, Texas Ranger, I eventually ran out of re-runs to watch, so I fell out of it. When Monk and Psych ended, there was nothing left to watch, so I fell out of it. That's what happens with any show, and then you move on to the next one. Wrestling has always been there and has never left because it never ends. It's a story that never ends, and as a sucker for storytelling myself, that's what draws me in personally.
Last but not least, I'd like to mention that I'm actually glad I got into wrestling when I did. I know that sounds beyond bizarre considering I started watching in 2008, but I firmly believe that. My parents are the type of people that would have never, ever allowed me to watch during the Attitude Era as a toddler or even during the 2000s as a teenager because of how raunchy some of the programming was. Maybe I would have gotten into it sooner if someone in my family was previously a fan, but they weren't, so that wasn't an option.
When I started watching, the "PG Era" was just on the verge of getting underway, so my parents didn't have to worry about me being exposed to anything inappropriate. Not only that, but I've noticed how some (key word being 'some', not all) fans that have been watching way longer are more jaded toward the product. Perhaps that's more of a reflection on me as a person and it has nothing to with the longevity of being a wrestling fan, but being I never knew what it was like to grow up in that time, my expectations/standards are significantly lower than everyone and I'm entertained easier. Whether that's a good or bad thing is up for debate, but if I had the ability to travel through time and have the choice of making a younger me get into wrestling sooner, I wouldn't change a thing.
Regardless of how old you are or how long you've been watching, it doesn't matter. It's not contest as to who loves wrestling more. We all love it and at the end of the day, that's what really matters. There might come a time in your time where you wish to move on from wrestling and it's no longer for you. That's totally acceptable. For me, however, I don't ever foresee that day coming to fruition. I'll be watching till the day I die, and you can take my word for that!