When I was a kid the Disney animated feature was the epitome of family friendly entertainment. Films like The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King and many others defined my childhood alongside professional wrestling. On the surface these things may not seem like they go together. But in reality The House of Mouse professional wrestling are pretty similar.

Walt Disney and professional wrestling became household names in the early days of television. Each bringing a world of wonder and excitement to the new medium making themselves traditions for kids of the era. Mickey Mouse was a household name alongside likes of Gorgeous George, Gagne and Buddy Rogers became family viewing for all involved. The 60s and 70s saw color and new for both mediums and the growth of territories reaching new markets and new audiences. While Walt’s Magic Kingdom had a national presence wrestling was still relatively regional but was the world of escape for all involved 8 to 80. An open imagination and believing in fantasy help those find dreams that would last a lifetime.

As the world rolled into the 80s, both professional wrestling and Disney had lost their magic a little bit with American audiences. The power of the pencil had given Disney some trouble with some projects that didn’t exactly capture the imagination. Particularly, The Black Cauldron almost destroyed Disney’s feature film business and took quite a few years to revitalize the era. Similarly, Pro Wrestling while still strong in some markets particularly in Memphis and Florida was feeling a change coming on. The people behind the territories were unaware of a juggernaut approaching on the horizon. The era of sports entertainment was coming. And Vince McMahon was at the head. The WWF became the ultimate family friendly brand of entertainment that appealed to audiences with the mascot Hulk Hogan at the front.

As body slams and Wrestlemania captivated the country, Disney themselves was looking for a new vision for their former bread-and-butter the animation department. It took about students from UCLA to bring the company back to the forefront. This gave all the classic animated pictures I listed above carrying the company into the late 1990s.

Once again, a similar thing happened to professional wrestling in the 1990s as it coasted on its laurels keeping older names on top while struggling to create new sparks of interest. And not just Vince McMahon but WCW and other territories. Many tried to go back to the well one too many times with what they believe worked instead of trying something different.

Under Chairman Michael Eisner, Disney would also go back to the well making direct to video sequels of their biggest hits. However they would saturate the market and really have people lose interest in their animated offerings.

Both wrestling and Disney had to look to the future and move to the next era. They would both had to go into a new dimension with characters stories that they would never have thought of before. Each genre would go into a new form of realism that purists would scoff at. The third dimension was key as Stone Cold Steve Austin begin to rise in the late 90s so did Pixar for Disney.

Taking things in such new direction brought success for the mediums themselves. However, any attempt to do anything different is often met with resistance these days. Every Pixar movie is compared to the early days. Much like modern-day wrestling fans compare everything to the Attitude Era. You can’t put the lightning back in the bottle. You show it to the animated teacher to a kid who’s grown up on Pixar movies and they may not understand it. Just like if you show a Bruno Sammartino match to a kid who grew up on the Attitude Era. They may not like it. They may not see that as genuine to the thing that grew up with.

But here’s the thing, the presentation overall may change but you can still hit those cultural and personal touchstones with people. I’m writing this article because I just watched the recent Pixar movie “Inside Out”. And I thought It was wonderful to play to audiences from all across the aisle. The now Disney owned company has done a great job in making their films resonate with audiences from every demographic. WWE tries to be that for professional wrestling and I think they missed the mark because they don’t tell stories connect with. There is nothing on the main roster that resonates like the beginning of “Up” or “Wall-E”. You don’t have a feeling of accomplishment and growth as you do say in “Monsters Inc.”

Someone say that wrestling’s version of Pixar is NXT. And the similarities are definitely there. Especially if you look at the emotional outpouring after the Sasha Banks/Bayley rivalry. However, I think a company like Chikara is really wrestling’s version of Pixar. It plays to a 35-year-old as well as it plays to a five-year-old. Good storytelling, humor and fun abound in the Philadelphia-based promotion currently in its 13th year of running.Honestly with WWE making a deal with Evolve to bolster their NXT roster I would love for Chikara to have a similar deal. Maybe even bolster the WWE Kids brand on the network and have something for the younger kids to really enjoy.

I’ve said it time and time again. I believe Chikara should have a Saturday morning timeslot somewhere. I know in the days of streaming services that times and dates don’t really matter in his generation but it just feels right to what they present. If you have the chance and have kids and you want a good wrestling promotion, Chikara is always my go to for anyone looking to get kids into professional wrestling. I feel like there the Pixar of the wrestling world.

At almost 32 years old, call me a sucker but I still believe there’s magic in the world. Sure. It may not be a fairy godmother. Or a sorcerer’s apprentice. But there’s something to be said when someone sees the first Disney/Pixar animated movie or wrestling match. The wide-eyed wonder of someone’s imagination being opened up to possibilities that they never thought were possible.

Somewhere along our adulthood, we all lose sight of just believing that something could be. Sometimes you have to enjoy the journey and understand that it’s all entertainment.