Interview with WWE star Bobby Lashley

By Nidia Trejo, 17, Downtown Magnets HS
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Nidia says her dream match is to see Jeff Hardy go against Rey Mysterio—high flyer vs. high flyer!

There are 10 minutes before WWE’s Raw comes on. I turn on my TV and get more and more anxious as the commercials end and the credits to Law & Order: SVU scroll by. The wait seems like forever, but when the W logo appears and I hear the theme music, I’m excited and relieved. A commentator opens the show by announcing the name of the city they’re in as the cameras sweep the stands, full of fans in the arena. Watching fans jumping up and down, holding up their signs, I feel their excitement.

I smile when a wrestler I like, such as the Undertaker, walks down the ramp. The lights in the arena go out as the Undertaker slowly approaches the ring with his hat tilted down. He raises his arms for the lights to come back, takes off his hat and rolls his eyes up so only the whites of his eyes show! I roll my eyes when a wrestler I can’t stand, like former WWE wrestler King Booker, comes out. As the self-proclaimed “King of the World,” King Booker entered the arena wearing a red cape and crown on his head with his wife, Queen Sharmell, who graciously bowed to him. Even though there are wrestlers that I like more than others, I still enjoy every moment because they make the storylines so much more interesting.

I might have a million things to do every week, but I always set aside time to watch the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment). Every Monday and Friday night I know that it’s there. It never goes off the air and there’s never a season finale. I’ve watched it for so long, my life would feel incomplete without it.

Wrestling on TV started out as family time

My parents introduced me to wrestling when I was 6. My sister and I didn’t understand why they watched it at first, but we still joined them in front of the TV every week. The evenings were the only time we had to spend together as a family. At first I thought wrestling was the most boring show. There was too much talking and I didn’t really understand what it was. But now I think the opposite—wrestling wouldn’t be as interesting without the commentaries. I’ve grown to enjoy it more than my parents do because I love the characters and the dramatic plots. It’s not one of their favorite shows anymore. Still, they let us tell them what happens, but when we talk about it as if it’s real, they say, “It’s just a show.”

Illustration by Francisco Sandoval, 15, Nogales HS

When I began high school and started stressing out, the WWE let me escape from reality when my life was consumed by schoolwork. My junior year I took AP U.S. history and AP art history. I never had hard classes like those and wasn’t used to studying for hours, night after night. I had to learn to manage my time from when I got home at 4:30 p.m. to when I could hardly keep my eyelids open studying late at night.

When I dreamt about George Washington mounting a horse to fight the French at Fort Duquesne, I realized that I desperately needed study breaks. I’d been studying U.S. history for five hours that night. My schoolwork, which I thought I had gotten away from when I fell asleep, was invading my unconscious mind! When I woke up I knew I needed a break.

WWE is my four-hour break: two hours for Raw  on Mondays and two more hours for SmackDown on Fridays. I put everything on hold to watch wrestling. It is my only way to forget about the stress and escape into fun. Then, when the fun is over, I’m focused enough to do my work again.

In fifth grade my friends were as excited as I was about pro wrestling. We would talk about it in class and fill each other in on what we might have missed. Once sixth grade came though, it felt as if wrestling was the last thing my friends wanted to talk about. I wondered how their enthusiasm about wrestling could change in one summer. When I talked about wrestling they changed the subject or stopped listening to me altogether. They said it was because they found out wrestling was fake. They said the blood was ketchup and the tables were already broken. In the back of my mind, I always knew that the storylines weren’t true because my parents would tell me. I liked, and still like, to pretend that they’re true though. It’s so much fun questioning what happens and making up answers to why a wrestler did something. Whether the wrestlers are acting or not, they’re the same to me. Knowing that wrestling isn’t real, I don’t take it seriously when a wrestler does something mean to another wrestler.

As much as I try to defend wrestling as a sport, people never quit trying to put it down. Going to a new school at the beginning of 10th grade, I was anxious to meet new people. I started talking to the girl sitting next to me and I asked her if she liked to watch wrestling. She politely said, “No,” so I didn’t expect to keep talking about it. Unfortunately, the very loud class clown overheard. He asked, “You watch wrestling?!” and everyone looked at me. I said, “Yes,” wondering what was so wrong with that. He said wrestling was stupid, not a sport and retarded. They were some of the most offensive words I’ve ever heard about wrestling and I never expected someone to yell at me about it. But comments like those actually make me more proud about liking wrestling. People are usually surprised because they don’t expect me, a very calm and small person (I’m 5 feet 3 inches tall and 98 pounds) to like a violent sport with guys who are three times my size and stronger. I love having the world of wrestling as my escape because it’s uncommon, especially for a girl, to like it.

One of the things I love about the WWE is all the different wrestlers. No wrestler is the same. I look forward to seeing the unpredictability each wrestler brings to the ring. For example, Hornswoggle, an Irish leprechaun who’s 4 feet 5 inches tall, lives under the wrestling ring and comes out usually to help his friend Finlay, but also to taunt other wrestlers.

WWE has “good” wrestlers and “bad” wrestlers. The “good” wrestlers are the ones everybody loves, similar to heroes in movies. The “bad” wrestlers would be like villains in movies. My favorite “good” wrestler is Rey Mysterio. He’s 5 feet 6 inches tall and very quick on his feet. He wears masks and blue contacts to live up to his name as being mysterious. I think of him as the innocent one who everyone picks on. He’s the underdog in most matches, so he doesn’t usually beat his taller and stronger competition, but he sure puts up a fight, kicking his opponent to weaken his legs or jumping from the air down on him. My favorite “villain” is Randy Orton, also known as “The Legend Killer.” He beats older, accomplished wrestlers and shows no respect toward what they’ve done for the industry. When he does his finishing move, the RKO—putting his arm around the head of his opponent and slamming him to the ground—the other wrestler is done. Their legends are killed and they usually don’t come back to wrestle for a while. He’s killed the Undertaker’s and Shawn Michaels’ legends, but they’ve come back. I still like him though because he doesn’t back down, no matter how much people boo him.

It’s not fun when the wrestlers get hurt

Sometimes I think I should stop watching the WWE because it’s a dangerous sport. Wrestling is violent, but I like it because of the athleticism, the amazing stunts wrestlers perform in the ring. I admire the wrestlers because injuries can happen unpredictably, like in any other sport. I can’t help feeling guilty when a wrestler gets hurt, even though it is an accident, because I feel as if I’m supporting men hurting each other. Injuries are sometimes shocking because I see wrestlers as invincible. One of the most shocking moments in wrestling was in 1999 when wrestler Owen Hart died while making his entrance, suspended on a cable about 70 feet above the ring. He was strapped into a harness and was being lowered into the ring. The cable broke, he fell and the impact killed him. My mom told us about the accident and how she’s liked wrestling less and less from that point on.

I was so used to watching wrestling on TV, it never crossed my mind that I could experience the WWE in real life. I got my chance a few years ago when WrestleMania 21, the biggest wrestling event of the year, came to the Staples Center. I was so excited, I couldn’t wait until the tickets went on sale.

Unfortunately, WrestleMania tickets were sold out, but my sister and I were able to get tickets to Raw the following night.

I walked into the Staples Center on the big night feeling so lucky to finally get the chance to be an excited fan in the crowd. I treasured those two and a half hours. I didn’t mind that there were kids behind me yelling obnoxious things to the wrestlers, the icy air conditioning, or the people in front of me who blocked my view of the ring when they stood up to cheer. My heart pounded with excitement the entire time. The flat screens around the arena replayed the matches at WrestleMania the night before over and over again, adding to the energy. I didn’t get tired of it.

I wished I could go back in time to the last 15 minutes, over and over again. I didn’t want it to end. The most memorable thing that happened that night was seeing Randy Orton being helped backstage by referees after he lost to Dave Batista, “The Animal.” Orton was headed through a left exit instead of the main entrance. He was struggling to walk and had a look of pain on his face as if still in character. He was headed my way, so my sister and I stood up to see what he’d do next. Orton looked up at us for like five seconds and stood up straighter. I froze. I couldn’t believe it. Out of the thousands of people in the arena he looked directly at us. I should’ve waved or something.

When I’m not watching wrestling I’m always thinking, “When should I start my homework? Will I be able to finish it all if I stay up late?  Should I just quit and go to sleep?” But then, I tell myself that if I can make time to watch what’s entertaining to me and what makes me happy, then I can definitely put up with doing hours of homework. I’m motivated to get back on task since I’ve already given myself time to relax with the WWE. I go back to sit under my lamp at my desk in a better mood, with a positive attitude to finish everything.