When people think of wrestling, what do they normally think of?
Theatrics? Sweaty guys in tights? John Cena and how good-looking he is?
All of these thoughts are valid to go through a non-wrestling fan’s head. But over the years, I’ve come across a pattern. Non wrestling fans always look at how “bad” wrestling is and how “fake” it is. They never see any good that can come of it.
Yes, wrestling can be silly. But wrestling can also be a beacon of light and a way to escape for many. It’s also an amazing friendship starter. Usually I’m one to write about “hot takes” throughout wrestling (and I’ll get there soon, don’t worry), but this article is different.
Throughout my life, I have made amazing friendships that will last with me through many years. But one specifically changed my life, and it all started with wrestling.
Her name was Montana.
I went to school with her basically my entire life, but we never ran in the same social circles. We knew of each other and maybe said hi to each other in the hallways, but never more than that.
Fast forward to 2014: I’m fresh out of college and back home trying to get my life together. I see a Facebook status one day from Montana asking if she can borrow anyone’s WWE Network account.
I’m stunned. This girl likes wrestling? Huh, who knew?
I decide to be a good guy and send her a message and give her my login info. Totally not thinking of anything more than being a good person, I thought that would be the end of it – she would take my login info and continue on with her life. But it blossomed into something I wouldn’t change for the world.
That day and for the weeks and months after, Montana and I talked about wrestling nonstop. We would joke about being the first inter-gender tag champs. I would of course complain about everything I hated about the WWE at that point, and she would look on the bright side (as she always did).
During a time where I wasn’t the happiest person waiting tables in South Jersey, and she was living in Alaska getting her life together, we became each other’s support systems. While the wrestling talk was still there, the conversation evolved into daily life itself and the troubles we were going through.
Over time, Montana opened up to me in ways I thought I wasn’t ready for. I learned that she dealt with drug addiction and she was cleaning herself up in Alaska. I was happy that she felt I was someone she could open up to and the friendship we had only blossomed because of it.
When I moved to LA in May of 2016, Montana was back in Pennsylvania living with her parents. We were talking more than ever. I was having my doubts about living out in LA, and she was there to help and talk me through it. I was also there for her as she was having her troubles at home.
But the wrestling talk never stopped. She was a huge fan of the women’s division and watched “Total Divas” regularly. While that wasn’t my exact cup of tea, she always got my attention with the way she talked about it and I actually gave Total Divas a chance.
Montana always said she wanted to come visit me in LA, and she had a plan to do so. She was planning on moving back to Alaska once she cleared up her finances and restarted life clean and free of drugs.
But unfortunately that never happened. Montana died of a drug overdose on April 18th, 2017.
I was at work when I found out. I had to step outside to decompress and let a good cry out. Over the past year and a half, I developed a friendship with someone that started because of wrestling, and she became one of my closest friends in the process. Now that was all gone.
I got in contact with some of her best friends and also reached out to her family, who I still stay in touch with today. In the process of writing this, I asked for anything they knew about Montana and her love of wrestling. Her sister Holland had the perfect response.
“When I think of Montana and her love for wrestling, I picture walking into the house and seeing her on the couch with her eyes peeled on the TV watching WWE telling everyone to be quiet. Even though none of us really understood anything about wrestling, she would talk about it for SO long in such great detail and you couldn’t help but laugh and smile because of how happy it made her. Sometimes we just had to act like we knew what was going on because it was the one thing she really looked forward to. I remember last Christmas, she sent my mom a list of things she wanted so I helped my mom shop (aka did the shopping for her, lol) and 95% of Montana’s gifts were from the WWE website. Seeing her open shirts and mugs and hats with her favorite wrestlers was the best and it was literally all she wanted. So much so, that I had to narrow it down to five or six items from certain wrestlers because there was just so much apparel she wanted.”
I’ve been trying to find a way to help myself cope over the past year, and writing this has been my outlet. While I may never come to terms with Montana’s death, I’ll always remember the bond we had and the amazing friendship that grew out of it.
All because of wrestling.
So next time someone makes fun of you for watching wrestling, remember what you read here. Remember the friendships that can blossom because of wrestling. Remember how wrestling can help any fan cope with the hardships in their lives. Even for a few hours, wrestling lets you clear your head and make you forget about everything bad happening in the world.
I know it helped me, and I know for a fact it helped Montana.