From September 17 2017 to September 17 2005
I know your biggest secret. I know it because I am you and I spent the last twelve years trying to pretend it didn’t exist. It was easier to pretend because it didn’t hurt so much, didn’t seem so scary. I know what your brother said to you and I know how it made you feel.
I know that a year ago you started watching WWE as a way to spend time with your brother. You didn’t like it, in fact you actually hated it. You wanted to be doing anything else. You couldn’t see the point in mostly naked men beating each other up and over-acting to the point of melodrama. It was stupid. Or so you thought. I know that a few months later, Shawn Michaels started a feud with Kurt Angle and you couldn’t take your eyes off the screen. I know that Shawn’s promos and in-ring ability was captivating and I know that Kurt Angle’s villainous behaviour seemed beautifully performed and was the ideal foil to Shawn, you thought. I know that you started to see the point of wrestling, I know that it sucked you in and you started to love it in a way that you have never loved anything in your life.
Then came Wrestlemania 21. Of course, you didn’t get to watch it live. But Sean bought the DVD. I know you loved the spectacle. It was the first time you watched and cared about every person, every story being told. I know that you adored every second of it. But especially Shawn Michaels vs Kurt Angle. I know you barely took your eyes of the screen, tried not to blink even, afraid to miss even one second of that incredible match. I know you were sad when Shawn Michaels lost, he had become your favourite and you respected, worshipped, idolised, and adored him. But I also know that you didn’t think anybody could have looked more satisfied than Shawn Michaels as he walked up the ramp afterwards, he was happy despite losing because he loved being in that ring. You knew then that it was staged, matches were predetermined, but you didn’t realise until then that somebody could seem so pleased at losing something, you hated to lose, how could he be happy? So you watched that match over, and over, and over again until you had every move memorised. You knew everything about that match. You started to analyse the moves, wondering how they did it, how they didn’t hurt each other. You fell in love with the performance and the talent that went into doing what they did.
You wanted to do that. You wanted to be that.
It was crazy, right? You wanted to be a scientist, or an astronaut, or an actress, or maybe all of the above. Dad wanted you to go to university and, hell, you wanted that, too, you thought. But suddenly wrestling seemed so enticing. It was so many things that you loved in one package. It was everything you could ever want. You wanted to become Shawn Michaels as badly as you needed to breathe.
You didn’t want to keep it to yourself so the next time you sat down to watch wrestling with Sean you told him. And he laughed at you.
“Girls can’t wrestle.”
“Girls can’t be Shawn Michaels!”
“Shawn Michaels sucks.”
You weren’t sure which one of those hurt more. But your big brother was always right, wasn’t he? So you believe him. You don’t think you can do that. You’re just going to make Dad proud and go become a doctor or a scientist or something, you’ll figure it out. Besides, you love to write, you can do that, and it’ll be okay. So, by now you’ve packed up that crazy little dream into a box and stuffed it into the back of your mind where it won’t haunt you or hurt so much.
Oh, sweetheart, I know that doesn’t work. I know you think every time you watch Raw and Smackdown that you would like to do it, get in that ring and hear people scream your name. Hear crowds chant ‘this is awesome’ when you’re putting on a great show. I know it still hurts but you’re pretending it’s not there even though you stare at the HBK poster and wonder what it must be like to do what he does. I know sometimes you walk down the hallway when you’re home alone and pretend it’s the entrance ramp and the lounge room is a ring and people are cheering for you. It’s okay, nobody ever sees you do it, nobody knows. Sean forgets, too, he doesn’t know he crushed your dream.
Here’s something important for you though: nobody can crush your dreams. Your spirit is too strong. It’s one good thing about us, we don’t stay down easy. We learn how to fight back. That bullying you go through? It doesn’t stop but it does one good thing; it makes us strong, it makes us hard, it makes us a fighter.
It took a long time but I finally decided to say ‘fuck it’. Fuck everyone else’s expectations, fuck everyone who wanted to keep us down.
So, here’s the thing.
Two nights ago I sat front row at a WWE live event in Sydney. Yeah, when you’re 23 you get to sit right up ringside and watch those guys do what they do best. You get to meet some of your favourites (Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, Alex Bliss… just you wait there is so much awesome to come in WWE. Especially women’s wrestling, bra and panties matches don’t last forever, I swear!) and even better? You get to meet Kurt Angle. Remember ‘Mania 21? So does he. You get to tell him about how that match made you feel and you get to say, ‘thank you so much, because of you and Shawn Michaels, I’m starting wrestling school in a couple of months’. And he is going to smile and laugh and say ‘wow, good luck! I’m excited for you, you’re going to have the best time!’.
That’s right, darling. I am gonna make our dream come true. I am going to make sure we get there. In two weeks I am going to have my try-out for an academy and if all goes well I will begin training very soon. This is the first step in a long, hard road, but I’ll get there. I promise you, I’m taking care of that dream, I’m taking care of that passion and love we have for wrestling. That fire that was set in our heart when we watched Shawn and Kurt put on a wrestling clinic is burning hotter and brighter than ever.
I promise this to you, the little girl who dreamed too big for other people to understand, one day I will walk down that ramp at Wrestlemania and stand in that ring where Shawn Michaels stood. Our dream will come true, I’ll make sure of it.