It's a hot summer night in 1974. . . .

Jimmy and Johnny Valiant are covered in blood and Madison Square Garden is in a frenzy. Tony Garea and Dean Ho have tied up their 2 out of 3 fall match, and as it approaches the 45 minute mark, every near pin brings the sold-out crowd to its feet. I'm 14 years old and have never heard noise like this; never felt such intensity. My heart is beating out of my chest.

I've discovered MAGIC.

The match ends in an indecisive draw, but it's my first card and I'd never be the same. I'd opened the door to a new world, one that's larger than life. Bruno Sammartino . . . Ivan Koloff . . . "Superstar" Billy Graham . . . Ernie Ladd . . . Spiros Arion . . . Waldo Von Erich . . . these weren't mere mortals. Rather, they were super-heroes and villains that walked the earth.

And then it happened; I kept hearing the same ugly rumors. . . .

"Wrestling's not real!"

I didn't want to believe it! It couldn't be true. . . .

"Sammartino's going to lose the belt to Supertar in Baltimore. . . ."

I prayed that Bruno wouldn't disappoint me. He was no fake--he'd prove them all wrong!

When that day came, he went down exactly the way they said.

For a few weeks I didn't want to look at wrestling. They had lied to me--deceived me. But Bruno was wrestling Graham at MSG that month and how could I miss that? The "heat" generated during that match was unbelievable. It was like the building was shaking. I realized then that my feelings hadn't changed . . . only I KNEW.

It's 1990 now and the thrills don't come as often, and generally not as intensely. Yet sometimes I'll see a match like Flair-Steamboat and I'll remember why I love wrestling and why I'll probably always love wrestling. On any given night we can all still be a part of that incredible magic.

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