Magazine article The New Yorker

Forever Young

Magazine article The New Yorker

Forever Young

Article excerpt

FOREVER YOUNG

People love Hulk Hogan. It's just fun to think about him, and his long pro-wrestling career, and his red head scarf, and his huge size, and the way he points his forefinger and shouts "You!" at opponents to intimidate them. The fans crowding into the Garden for "Hulk Hogan Appreciation Night" on a recent Friday were doing that a lot--saying "You!" and pointing. No other passion in the city draws a crowd as diverse as pro wrestling's. It makes the patrons of MOMA look like close relatives of one another by comparison. Latinos, Asians, white people, blacks, little kids, old ladies with their hair in buns, women in hijabs, dads with sons, office pals in sober suits, and eager young date-night couples poured in, quickly scoped out the gift kiosks, and whooped up the ramps and escalators to their seats. If you were searching among them for a unifying feature, besides the red head scarves, you would have to settle for this: facial hair. Across ethnic and racial lines, many of the guys sported neat beard-mustache combos of the Ming the Merciless variety.

Hands of all kinds went over hearts for the national anthem. Then the wrestling began, each match more slam-bang and scream-worthy than the last. A deeply hateable wrestler named Bad News Barrett came out, commandeered the microphone, and offered some comments in a sneering English accent--something about an American wrestler named Dean Ambrose having stolen his Intercontinental Championship Belt. The bell rang and Barrett had to do battle, then and there, with the aforementioned Ambrose, plus Dolph Ziggler, who together would've stood a better chance if they'd made common cause instead of turning on each other whenever they had the Englishman down.

Evil was rewarded, as often occurs. Barrett won and skedaddled up the aisle with the coveted belt, to cascading boos. Similarly, in a later match, a black-bearded giant named Rusev, "currently residing in Moscow," according to the announcer, beat mercilessly on a clean-cut American hero, John Cena, whose thing is that he salutes all the time. The image of Vladimir Putin flashed regularly from the Jumbotron to encourage Rusev, who cheatingly put two successive referees out of commission and paused now and then to wave a large Russian flag. In Section 117, Row 20, Seat 5, a man named Darren Quick said to his son, "Watch--Rusev is going to win in two minutes. …

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