Wrestling Appreciation: Rob Van Dam vs. Bam Bam Bigelow, April 4th, 1998

27 Aug

I’m sad today.

Anyone who has ever suffered from depression knows how hard that is to say. Even if it’s just occasional bouts of low self-esteem or a sudden and inexplicable loss of confidence, it’s a hard thing to admit. More often than not it’s hard to admit to yourself. For most of us we just tough it out and go it alone, because it can go as quickly as it came. There’s no need to bother anyone else with it. No one needs or likes a pity party. There are people who are worse off, and the last thing you want to hear is a laundry list of all the reasons you have to be happy. That kind of admission is also hard for people to hear. As much as they want to cheer you and make that sadness go away, there also comes a sense of helplessness and fear – of saying the wrong thing, of not being able to make it go away at all.

If you’re here and reading this, it can be assumed that you have at least a passing interest in wrestling. This is, after all, a site entirely dedicated to it. As much as we wrestling fans gripe and argue and get invested in our particular interests within the fandom as a whole, the one thing we can all agree on is that at the end of the day, we love wrestling, and, hopefully, it’s a thing that makes us happy. It’s very easy to get caught up in the negativity of it all, be it those arguments we get into, or on a larger scale the negative things that exist within the industry itself. The racism, sexism, blatant homophobia…sometimes it becomes overwhelming. For every great thing you see, you can point to something at the other end of the spectrum. Two wrestlers can tear down the house, but it can be preceded by a racial slur that can taint the entire experience. Two women can battle ‘til they’re broken, and there’s still the one jerk who feels the need to ask, not so politely, to see their tits. At times it’s inescapable, overbearing, and it is most definitely exhausting.

When either of these things happen, be it an uncomfortable and upsetting experience, or the general malaise that can creep up on you out of nowhere, it’s important to have the things that remind you why you love wrestling in the first place. The little things that make you happy. In the past few weeks I’ve had more than one conversation wherein someone was brave enough to admit that they were at a low point, and something about what makes them a fan helped pull them out of it. They needed it. Today, I need that.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from writing the Best and Worst of Impact each week, it’s that it is much easier to criticize and explain why something just doesn’t work or isn’t good than it is to explain why you enjoyed something. We all love different things, and that’s what makes interactions interesting and worthwhile arguments compelling, but “I like this” never really seems to be good enough. Recently, Brandon Stroud (as Jakob Hammermeier would say, mein BFF) started his attempt at combating negativity by posting one thing he loves about wrestling a day. He’s since stopped, as it seems people don’t much care for a simple expression of appreciation, and I have to admit, I miss it. But I think it’s important to have those reminders. Little things that help prop us up when everything else just brings us down.

With all of that in mind, I want to share those little things that make me happy. It might not be an everyday contribution, as life has a tendency to get in the way, but I think there’s merit in generating positive conversations about wrestling, and celebrating the very best things about it. Whether it’s Koko B. Ware’s complete ineffectiveness against Andre the Giant in a Royal Rumble, the stars on Big john Studd’s boots, or the way the Estonian Thunderfrog throws back his shoulders when he comes through the curtains, there are little touchstones I’ve come to rely on. Again, it’s the little things. Things that are so simple but never fail to make me feel that familiar pull in my heart, and put a smile on my face.

My favourite match seems to be as good a place as any to start. Sure, there are better matches out there, but I always come back to this one. It’s my happy place, as it were. When I’m sick or sad or tired (or all three), it’s the match that is somehow the most comforting. I get completely caught up in it. I love when Bam Bam tries to put RVD through the table and it doesn’t break, so he casually walks along the apron until he’s above RVD, then every so casually elbow drops 390 pounds onto him and they both go crashing to the floor. I watch it and remember how I felt the first time I saw RVD leap into the crowd onto Bam Bam, and then, incredulously, watched him do it a second time because how the f*ck do you even do that. I love when Sabu shows up because friendship-based wrestling is the best wrestling. I love the Van Daminator into the pin. RVD still pulled out five star’s worth of frog splashes, and Bam Bam could still surprise you by moving in a way that no one of his particular size and shape should. This match encapsulates most of what made me loves wrestling in the first place: flippy stuff and smashy stuff and power bombs and friendship and fat dude rassles.

Does it make everything go away? No. Am I going to get sad again? Without a doubt. Everyone does. This match, even if it’s just for twenty minutes, makes me happy to my very core. It’s there when I need it, and I’m not ashamed to admit that today, I need it.

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9 Responses to “Wrestling Appreciation: Rob Van Dam vs. Bam Bam Bigelow, April 4th, 1998”

  1. Stephen August 27, 2013 at 11:30 am #

    While I find it hard to appreciate RVD, I think the “IWC” could use some positivity. :)

  2. Philip Rosenbaum August 27, 2013 at 11:35 am #

    You’re definitely not alone in these feelings or relying on your wrestling equivalent of comfort foods in fighting them off for a while. Our favorite matches/wrestlers/shows/etc can have a very Patronus-like effect for us, wrapping us up like a blanket and doing everything they can to keep out the dementors that hurt us. I know this year more than ever in the past I’ve turned to the things in wrestling that make me happy to take my mind off of any and every painful blow life has dealt me, even if it’s just for a little bit.

    Frightmare doesn’t judge me. Tim Donst told me I was the man on Twitter and nothing from the couple of days around that hurt. I thanked Jervis out of nowhere one day, and of course he was welcoming about it but wondered what he had done to receive my gratitude. When I explained that just knowing that such a wonderful, sweet gentleman existed in the world was my anchor to holding myself together at that time, he didn’t question it, he embraced it. I will forever be grateful for that, because it was one of the darkest times I can remember. Even Kobald chipped in with a dead snake in a mystery bag. There are not a lot of people on the planet who can understand why that would make me happy. But it did, because I can tell them “No, you guys, seriously, the Prince Of All Goblins sent me a bag with a bunch of random stuff in it and ONE OF THOSE THINGS WAS A DEAD SNAKE” and the sheer ridiculousness of it will make me happy all over again.

    Thanks for sharing, Danielle. It makes it so much easier to face the day even when it doesn’t feel worth it when you know that there are things in wrestling that you can approach with open arms bellowing “LET ME LOVE YOU” that will not turn their backs and run on you. Those things will let you embrace them, and may even embrace you back because the knowledge that they’re appreciated helps them, too.

  3. wwenxt August 27, 2013 at 12:12 pm #

    two things
    1. Thank u for opening urself up like this
    2. Anyone else feel ” that chikara thing we do ” falls under things that make u happy bout wrestling ? I know it does for me , showed me the Internet can be a fun place for wrestling podcasts and not just why wwe and tna stinky poo

  4. themosayat August 27, 2013 at 12:35 pm #

    then, I recommend this match that made ME happy~ when I was sad yesterday !

    search for “Katsuyori Shibata vs. Tomohiro Ishii” the climax match of G1 from NJPW.

    here’s a link for it, too :

    it WILL make you happy ! I promise :)

  5. joeyo24 August 27, 2013 at 3:39 pm #

    That was lovely, Danielle. You gotta stay positive, as some Minnesota Twins fan once sang.

  6. jpoulos August 27, 2013 at 11:16 pm #

    Y’know…you’re pretty much like treasure. Thank you for sharing that.

  7. Mike "Sleazy" Nowak August 27, 2013 at 11:36 pm #

    I wish we got to talk more about wrestling over the Wrestlemania weekend. You are ever the optimist about wrestling, and you always remind me why we live in this world full of baby oil and pseudo-grappling. I’ve said this many times before, but you are a shining light in a sea of negativity, and I always hope that the bright hue that comes off of you stays lit for many many years to come.

  8. Kevin Newburn (@KevinNewburn) August 28, 2013 at 12:03 am #

    good post, great match. thank you

  9. David September 9, 2013 at 7:41 pm #

    TMC is in my daily roundup of sites I check and every time I visit I see the article and think about finding the things that make me happy and trying to resist the sadness. Thank you for sharing the match and your thoughts about it(, life, and stuff).

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