BANKIE'S HOT TAKE #46 - The 1-2-3 Kid, My Childhood Hero
As a kid growing up that was bullied, it was very tough to find heroes to relate to.
I was, and many cases still am, an outcast. I’m very quirky and have very unique tastes and visions as it comes to what I like. Naturally, being a die-hard wrestling fan, there were their positives and negatives as it came to that in school.
By the time I was in second grade, I was hooked on professional wrestling. To me, watching Superstars and Wrestling Challenge on the weekends on Fox 5 was extraordinary. Seeing the larger-than-life wrestlers was tremendous. Yet, in a way, I couldn’t relate to many of them.
These guys were big, strong, and alpha males. I was a scrawny beanpole, always seeing the good in people. My size, at the time, was a detractor to the other kids in school. I was made fun of and ridiculed. I had no confidence at all.
One night, on May 17, 1993, I couldn’t sleep. I went downstairs and saw my old man watching WWF Monday Night Raw on the USA Network. Normally, I wouldn’t be able to watch it, as it was past my bedtime, but since I just got an A on a big test, my Dad allowed me to sit down with him for a little bit to watch the program.
The match he was watching was Razor Ramon against an enhancement talent named “The Kid”. Normally, the bigger star (Ramon) would dominate the virtually unknown performer. And in the beginning, it looked that way.
Then, in a flash, the Kid sidestepped a Razor charge and backflipped off the top onto a standing “Bad Guy”. One three count later, and the biggest upset in the early days of Monday Night Raw took place.
My father reacted huge with a yelp. He was genuinely shocked.
I was mesmerized. I was hooked. The underdog beat the big alpha male. David beat Goliath.
I had found my hero in the 1-2-3 Kid.
Over the next two and a half years, the 1-2-3 Kid became a must watch for me. Every chance I got, I was watching him wrestle. My old man bought a bunch of VHS tapes and, on the old VCR, taped several of his matches just for me.
I frequently rewound his upset of Ted DiBiase on WWF Wrestling Challenge. I loved his double count-out classic with Marty Jannetty on Raw. My Dad ordered the WWF Survivor Series 1993 and I got to see him and Jannetty be the sole survivors on their team in the Opening match. And his winning of the Tag Team championships against the Quebecers on the one year anniversary of Raw in 1994 was massively re-lived on a daily basis.
And don’t get me wrong, the Kid lost his fair share of matches. In fact, at the first ever show I saw live in Madison Square Garden, he lost against Bastion Booger in the opening match on September 25, 1993. He was defeated by IRS at SummerSlam. Hell, at the King of the Ring, with a bad neck in the second round of the tournament, he was utterly destroyed by Owen Hart.
But I learned a massive lesson by watching the Kid wrestle. Never give up. Always keep fighting, no matter what. You never know what could happen if you keep your head in the game.
I’ll never forget his classic match with Bret “Hit Man” Hart on the July 11 Raw. My parents let me stay up during the Summer to watch it live. In my room, I stayed on the television, not moving a muscle. In his first ever opportunity at the World Wrestling Federation championship, the Kid gave it all of his effort. He nearly, on several occasions, pinned the Hit Man. However, after twenty minutes, the Kid was spent, missing a dropkick off the top rope and getting caught in the Sharpshooter for a submission loss. As sad as I was, I felt so proud to see the Kid fight to the bitter end. And the respect given to him by Bret post-match was the cherry on top.
He made me believe in myself and in my abilities to persevere. In sports, school, and to bullies, I refused to change who I was. You fight, no matter what. Even if you lose, at least you know you gave your best. You have to keep going. Failure builds character and determination to overcome next time.
The 1-2-3 Kid was a hero.
I finally was able to procure a copy of CHIKARA’s 2011 King of Trios Night Three a few weeks ago. My main focus was to watch the return of Sean Waltman and the 1-2-3 Kid character. In the semi main event, the Kid was scheduled to face El Generico in the finals of the Rey de Voladores.
This version of the 1-2-3 Kid was 38 years old, grizzled and weathered through the wrestling wars, as well as personal and professional tragedy. This version of the Kid was unsure if he could hang with, at the time, independent wrestling’s most beloved and talented babyface.
What he wound up doing was turn back the clock and put on the performance of a lifetime.
After seven minutes of classic 1-2-3 Kid, Generico caught him and gave him a super brainbuster for a three count. I was impressed, as he proved that he could overcome anything and give it his all, in spite of all anxieties and worries. You could tell that this match meant the world to him.
In 2023, it meant the world to me too. Being that age now, it showed me to keep going, no matter what.
As an old adage I once heard stated: “Every old fighter has one last great fight in them.” That was the 1-2-3 Kid on this night in April 2011.
Thank you Sean Waltman for providing me motivation and inspiration. Your persona meant more to me than you realize. You were my childhood hero. You are still a motivator.