George the Animal SteeleI admit it. I used to watch professional wrestling on the eye of hell. But this was some twenty or twenty-five years ago, back when the WWE still had an F, when Hulk Hogan was a “real American,” who’d “fight for the right of every man,” when George the Animal Steele fell deep into puppy love with Miss Elizabeth, the “manager” of Macho Man Randy Savage. He loved her even more than he loved eating the foam inside turnbuckles.

At the time, I watched for the same reason I watched a couple of soap operas: for the sheer theatricality of it. I used to try to impress people with my theories about the connections between professional wrestling and Kabuki theatre. Did you know that Kabuki was created for the masses, who weren’t considered sophisticated enough to comprehend Noh drama? Did you know that the stage in wrestling is actually built over another stage with a space between them, so that when a character slams his foot down it reverberates, just like in Kabuki?

I lost interest when I felt that things had gone too far over the top. Even I have my limits. Similarly, I gave up on Days of Our Lives after Dr. Marlena Evans became demonically possessed and had to be exorcised by John Black, her lover who may have also been her former husband Roman Brady, but who apparently had at one time also been a Catholic priest.

So why, after all these years, am I writing about professional wrestling again? Well, I’ve seen the adverts for the upcoming Wrestlemania XXV on the eye of hell, and it seems the WWE is in dire need of a math and vocabulary lesson. Watch:

Here’s the text of the voice-over announcer:

In March of 1985, it began.

And every year thereafter, we celebrated the action, the amazement, the thrills.

Now, after 24 years, it all leads here.

On Sunday, April 5th, experience the 25th anniversary of Wrestlemania.

Live, Sunday, April 5th, on pay-per-view.

Assuming they’re correct in stating that Wrestlemania has taken place once each year since March 31, 1985, this is indeed the 25th annual event, and the moniker “Wrestlemania XXV” is perfectly fine.

But that doesn’t make this the 25th anniversary of Wrestlemania. defines “anniversary” as the yearly recurrence of the date of a past event. And if you’re interested in the source of the word, the Online Etymology Dictionary provides this information:

c.1230, from L. anniversarius “returning annually,” from annus “year” (see annual) + versus, pp. of vertere “to turn” (see versus). The adj. came to be used as a noun in Church L. as anniversaria (dies) in ref. to saints’ days.

Your wedding day is not your first anniversary. That comes a year later. Similarly, you’re not popped out of the womb on your first birthday. You’re born on your date of birth. Your first birthday is the first anniversary of your date of birth, one year later.

So Wrestlemania XXV, the 25th annual Wrestlemania, is not Wrestlemania’s 25th anniversary. That will occur on March 31, 2010, 25 years after the first event. And that means this isn’t even going to be the 24th anniversary. That’s six days from today.

Give Leapin’ Lanny Poffo a buzz. If he’s still in his “the Genius” persona, I’m sure he can answer any questions about this.

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