By Commissioner Mike (CM) Shannon
I was four years old when I first started watching wrestling. While I only remember bits and pieces, it’s a moment my mom remembers very clearly… I was sick, it was late, I couldn’t go to sleep, and my mom was desperate to find anything that would distract my mind, even a little. So, she flipped through the TV and settled on wrestling.
“They were big, they wore tights, and threw each other around,” my mom recalls. “They looked like superheroes!”
And they did- in a huge way! And as I watched the “Macho Man” Randy Savage and Jake “The Snake” Roberts tear the house down on what, thinking about it now, must’ve been a tape-delay replay of Saturday Night’s Main Event on either StarSports or the American Armed Forces Network, I found myself falling in love for the very first time in my life.
“I thought they were going to distract you!” my mom sighs. “I had no idea it was going to become a lifelong obsession. God, if I only knew!”
My mom tells this story a lot, because I can’t even begin to count all the times during my childhood she tried to wean me off wrestling. In fact, it took a trip to a child psychologist to convince her to let me watch wrestling for good.
Before I ever fell in love with a girl, I fell in love with wrestling.
A Mark of the 90’s!
The 90’s was such a different time to be a wrestling fan. If anything, it required a level of patience that many just don’t have in today’s world. WWF programming was available on both cable and free-TV, in varying degrees. If you were lucky enough to have cable, that meant you watched the WWF on a three week tape delay.
But, if you didn’t, you had to follow WWF programing through IBC 13, ABC 5, and then RPN 9 on Saturday nights on a two month tape delay. And if that wasn’t enough, pay-per-views were often separated into two parts and played over the course of two weekends as part of a “Saturday Night Blockbuster/Movie of the Week” programming block. So, theoretically, you could start Summer Slam one week and finish it the next, but having gone through an episode of Superstars that would have spilled the beans on the main event for you.
I was too young too care. For me, wrestling was awesome and I wanted to watch everything! And thanks to Hasbro’s now iconic line of 4-inch figures, the crazy universe of the World Wrestling Federation was now even closer to me. Every afternoon, my nephew and I would sit down on the floor, with our Hasbros to re-create some of our favorite matches and make up some new ones of our own.
Thinking about it now, my work as the Commissioner of the MWF is really an extension of a pastime I could never bring myself to outgrow.
In Living Color
Excluding the Manila Wrestling Federation and other wrestling events I had worked on, I’ve been to six wrestling shows in my life, starting with a barely remembered show at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum headlined by Jake “The Snake” Roberts.
I was too young to really remember the actual details of the show. All I can remember was being there and seeing a wrestling ring and real wrestlers in front of me for the first time in my life. It was fun, exciting, and I remember not being able to keep my eyes away from what was going on.
At the end of the show, the promoters allowed the fans to come around the ring and meet the wrestlers. And with my Hasbro Jake “The Snake” Roberts figure in hand (I had already lost the Damien figure by that point), I had a picture with the mystery man from Stone Mountain Georgia.
It’s very fitting: the first live wrestling show I ever attended included the first wrestler I ever saw on TV.
Here We Are Now
In a few short months, I will be thirty years old. In a couple years, I will have been a wrestling fan for exactly three decades. I’ve been in the business for four years, and when I think of everything, I think it’s fair to say that I’ve acclimated a treasure chest of memories. But until a couple weeks ago, I didn’t have any real recollections of my first ever wrestling show until my sister and niece unearthed an envelope of old photos.
Now, I hadn’t seen any of these pictures in about twenty-five years and as I flipped through each one, memories came rushing to back as my jaw slowly dropped at the sheer volume of talent on hand for that show… David Schultz, Kevin Sullivan, Konan, Johnny Grunge, Greg “The Hammer” Valentine, Medusa, and the Warlord (with someone who looks a hell of a lot like Paul Heyman!).
It’s hard to look at these pictures without wanting to go back in time and relive this show as a twenty-nine year old. But then again, I think of my five-year-old self. Those guys worked that show for a crowd of really impressionable kids. And when I think of myself now, I’m making wrestling shows with my friends for a new crowd of really impressionable kids.
During last year’s MWF Live, there was a little boy in the front row with his dad. He came to our show with his own Spinner Title and a head full of dreams that were on the verge of coming true. And seeing him thoroughly enjoy our first show with all of his heart, he reminded me why I decided to even get into this crazy business in the first place.
It’s not about glory, it’s not about legacy: it’s about leaving the next generation with a memory so unforgettable that one day, they inherit our business to inspire the generation that comes after.
At the end of the show, my mom approached that boy and pointed at me.
“You know, Mike was just like you at that age”, she told him.
And you know what? While I try not to take any moment away from my roster, I’ll take that. It was one of the few moments that truly made it all worth it.