by Jamie Whitehead
“It’s still real to me, dammit” were the words adorned upon a horribly put together abomination of luminous orange cardboard and black marker pen on the front row of WWE’s Wrestlemania 26. Professional Wrestling had long since departed from it’s self imposed bubble of it being ‘real’ and the worn-thin conceit that the two men (usually) in front of you generally did hate one another and waited until pre-arranged times, often at arenas in front of a large audience and television cameras, before attempting to settle their differences.
In my younger days, I was begrudgingly sent to the Cub Scouts by my parents. It was one of these Wednesday evenings I heard two of my fellow ‘enthusiasts’ enter into a debate about which was better, football or wrestling?
In the ‘Pro’ Wrestling corner (geddit?) lay the argument that you saw more than one match and… Well I forgot what else he said, it was twenty years ago. Football was represented with ‘You don’t know what’s going to happen’ an argument backed up by one of the group’s leaders before we continued with our duties. After all, there were knots to be tied and time was slipping away somewhat rapidly.
Over the inter-lapping twenty years, the face of football has changed somewhat dramatically in this country. Thanks to those loveable rogues at Sky Sports, the Premier League has gone from being essentially a re-branded Division One (The first season included Oldham Athletic and Norwich City finished third, earning themselves a UEFA Cup spot and setting them on the road to being the only British side to win an away win at Bayern Munich, a record which still stands to this day) to the all consuming monster it is today. Ironically, the FA were adamant at the time of the league’s formation that the ‘FA Carling Premiership’ (as it was then known) would be a great benefit to the national team, and by the time of the new millennium, England would once again be at the top of the world. Riiiiigggghhhhhttttt…..
Somewhere, in the deepest, darkest corners of the Premier League HQ, sits a team of writers.
Wrestling enjoyed a second ‘boom period’ in the mid to late 90’s with the now legendary ‘Monday Night Wars’ dominating television schedules in the United States as one company swallowed and destroyed all of it’s competitors. Sound familiar?
As wrestling (somehow) managed to get a little more believable, the changes in the Premier League over the last few years especially could be described as anything but. Whoever would have thought as Alan Shearer and Tim Sherwood held aloft the Premier League trophy in front of Liverpool’s Anfield Road End that the following fifteen years would bring us; Russian Oligarchs, Wigan in the top flight, Bolton Wanderers vs Bayern Munich, an owner called Randy, Manchester United in more debt than most of the third world, £55,000 a week being described as an ‘insulting’ salary, Liverpool’s 2005 European Cup win, Sheikh Mansour, Massimo Taibi, Game 39, Sven, Wags and the Players’ Player, the ever reliable John Terry before the whole cycle came full circle and Blackburn were bought by a group of fried chicken connoisseurs?
Yep, football in England, so bizarre, it had to have been made up.
Somewhere, in the deepest, darkest corners of the Premier League HQ, sits a team of writers who are slowly putting together the Soap Opera of our Lives. WWE calls these people ‘Creatives’ The Premier League probably calls them ‘Experiential Life Coaches’ or some other such nonsense.