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The Wright Opinion - Some RAW memories
Seth Wright.jpg

It’s been a while since I’ve watched professional wrestling but the special 30th anniversary of WWE RAW Monday night, featuring Hulk Hogan and other old-timers, lured me back in. 

As a child of the ‘80s, I was definitely a little Hulkamaniac. Since I first saw him portray Thunderlips in 1982's Rocky III, Hulk Hogan drew me in and prompted me to explore the world of professional wrestling. That was the gateway that introduced me to Junkyard Dog, Andre the Giant, "Macho Man" Randy Savage, Hillbilly Jim, "Rowdy" Roddy Piper and so many other (literally) big figures of my childhood.

As I aged, wrestling drifted to the back of my mind. Oddly enough, it was starting work at the Southern Standard that brought me back into the world that could be described as a male soap opera. Duane Sherrill, who worked here when I started, was a huge wrestling fan and I started dipping my toe back into pro wrestling to have something to talk to him about. As I began to watch again, I was intrigued to learn my childhood hero, Hulk Hogan, was still going strong but now as a bad guy - Hollywood Hogan. Once again Hogan brought me into wrestling. This led, most importantly, to friendships I will never forget. As Duane and I bonded more over wrestling, we fell into a habit of going to J’s Restaurant at the mall for lunch every day. Our lunchtime conversations frequently revolved around wrestling and we learned that Jean-Claude Petit, Sr., owner of J’s, was a really big wrestling fan as well.

Whenever Jean Claude saw us come in, he would invariably come sit at the table with us to talk about wrestling. He also liked to turn it up a notch. One of his favorite things was to sneak up behind Duane or me and give us a fake wrestling punch to the back of the head. We, of course, would “sell” the move and flop across the table and Jean-Claude would be left to explain to his bewildered customers that we were friends and just playing wrestling. We became wrestling buddies to the extent that anytime the WWE came around, Duane, Jean-Claude and the rest of our group of wrestling-fan friends and I would go together, even going as far as Atlanta for Wrestlemania 27. My wrestling fandom became more about the friendships found in wrestling than the wrestling itself. For years, Ashley and I hosted pay-per-view parties at my house that Duane, Jean-Claude and a whole host of others would attend each month. 

Sadly, Jean-Claude lost his match with cancer in 2015 and watching wrestling  has never been quite as fun without him to talk about it with. So, Monday night, as the promise of an appearance by Hulk Hogan once more drew me back to wrestling, my memories of the days talking about Hogan, Goldberg, Cena and Sting with my friends, and particularly Jean-Claude, were rekindled. Say what you will about wrestling but those friendships will always make me smile. As Jean-Claude often said in his strong French accent, if it was all fair and square, ‘ulk ‘ogan would beat them all.

Standard managing editor Seth Wright can be reached at (931) 473-2191