The Poetry of Wrestlemania

Hulk Hogan standing in front of a photo of his former rival in the ring, Andre the Giant, at an HBO premiere. Both men were World Wrestling Federation icons in the 80s and early 90s. Photo credit to Dreamstime.

If you assume that Point Loma Nazarene University Professor of writing Katie Manning learned to love Wrestlemania from a male family member, you’d be sorely mistaken. Manning learned to love Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant and Jake the Snake from a matriarchal source, her great-aunt. 

“I find it funny, because wrestling is kind of this hyper-masculine drama, but my love of wrestling came to me matrilineally,” Manning said. 

Manning says her devotion to Wrestlemania was mostly pre-memory, around the age of three or four. She recalls sitting with her great-aunt, a snowbird, when she’d visit from rural Missouri for the winter and falling in love with what she calls “all the blustering” of Wrestlemania. 

“It was fascinating and so action-packed,” Manning said. 

Some of what Manning found fascinating were the wrestler’s “colorful underwear,” the props, the drama and their heroic size. 

“All these big guys would come out and I was like, ‘how are your bodies like this?’” said Manning. “Andre the Giant would come out and I was like, ‘how are you even possible?’”

Manning says she was also amazed at how The Hulk or Andre the Giant could fight in all these crazy ways and never get hurt. 

“It was very much like watching a cartoon, but they were real people,” Manning said. 

Manning says her favorite wrestler during that formative time was Hulk Hogan. Although she can’t really pinpoint why, she definitely remembers that she had an affinity for the still world-famous Hogan. 

Manning also admits to owning several World Wrestling Federation action figures and their fighting ring. She says she has memories of posing them more than fighting them. 

“I do remember I would make them talk to each other more than I would really make them fight,” said Manning. “Because what I loved most was, like I said, the blustering, the smack-talk.”

Wrestlemania was a definitive part of her formative years, much like normal children’s shows, like Sesame Street.

“It was like, you know, Grover, Elmo and Hulk Hogan,” Manning said.

Manning says she will always appreciate the nostalgia of Wrestlemania. 

“There is some part of me that still loves it, the part of me that is still a child,” Manning said. 

Now, Manning loves having wrestling in her background because of the interesting ways she can connect with other people over it. 

“I have had some thoroughly weird conversations about wrestling with some very random people, but they were all delightful!” Manning said.

While she enjoyed the entertainment of wrestling, her love for the sport actually began with connecting with her great-aunt and her cousin Michael, who also loved WWF. 

“Wrestling seems to be about fighting and discord, but for me it has always been about family and connection,” said Manning.

Despite Manning’s claim that her love of WWF wrestling was mostly pre-memory, enough lucid details about Wrestlemania remain for her to include in her poetry. In April she will have a wrestling-inspired poem published this Spring in Minyan Magazine, titled, “Wrestling with God,” inspired by the Bible passage Genesis 32:22-32 and her favorite WWF Superstars, circa 1991; an excerpt is included below. 

Wrestling with God

Is it the oil under bright lights, or

does this man glow

as he steps into the ring? I slip

through the ropes, but

my body feels as stiff as my lost Hulk

Hogan action figure.

The shining man

has reached Andre-the-Giant proportions.

You can learn more about Minyan Magazine and check out the rest of “Wrestling with God” in the April issue of Minyan Magazine (minyanmag.com).

Written By: Amber Robinson