Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Wrestlemania 32

  I've been a pro wrestling fan for most of my adult life. Like many longtime fans, I was drawn in by the rock and wrestling connection made in the early '80s when Hulk Hogan first became a TV icon.

   As my sons grew, we watched wrestling on TV (off and on), attended local matches when the WWE or the WCW came to town, and watched quite a few of the pay-per-view events. 

   As my guys became adults, we started talking about the idea of going to see Wrestlemania one year - and this year, all the stars aligned and we were able to work out our schedules and make it happen!

   So my two sons and two of their friends gathered near Dallas, Texas, at the AT&T Stadium - the massive structure where the Dallas Cowboys play football - to see the big event!

   For those not in the know, Wrestlemania is the annual competition for the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) wherein they bring together their biggest names, Hall of Famers and stage several big stunts to put on a heck of a show.
   Just entering the stadium was jaw-dropping - it's a huge facility that can seat over 100,000 spectators! The stadium features a monstrous screen hanging above - each one is 160 feet wide and 72 feet tall, stretching from one 20-yard line to the other 20-yard line. Add in a huge set, fireworks and other effects - not to mention some amazing wrestling - and you have a heck of a show!
   It was a lot of fun, with surprise guest stars (Shaquille O'Neal as a wrestler?) and lots of laughs. 

    The only problem we encountered happened when we arrived. We got there (under the warm Texas sun) at 3 p.m., when the gates were supposed to open - but some kind of technical problem kept most people out until 4:30-ish. What's funny is that they started matches before most fans were able to watch them. 

   The matches aside, it was like being at DisneyWorld - it was an amazing technical feat to see the crew make the show happen! While matches were going on in the ring, dozens of workers scurried around the stage, setting up everything from firework displays to props (including a giant box of Booty-Os cereal) and stage pieces that appeared quickly and went away just as fast. 

    I thought the show was pretty strong throughout, though the title match (as is often the case) was in some ways the least of the bunch. The female triple threat match was very good (this from a guy who was never much of a fan of women's wrestling matches), but my favorite was probably the ladder match, with several wrestlers trying to be the one to climb the ladder and get the Intercontinental belt - there were some crazy stunts in there (the finish was certainly unexpected). 
   The Shane McMahon / Undertaker "Hell in a Cell" match managed to live up to its hardcore expectations, and the final stunt (Shane jumping three stories from the top of the cage onto the announce table) was stunning (and thankfully, he didn't die). 

   The New Day / League of Nations match was ok, but the aftermath, with run-ins by three Hall of Famers, including Shawn Michaels, Mick Foley and - with one of the night's loudest crowd reactions - Stone Cold Steve Austin, was a heck of a lot of fun. 

   I enjoyed The Rock's appearance, too, and he demonstrated how badly the WWE needs a performer with the mic skills to entertain the audience so effortlessly. No one can make a comic insult like The Rock. Great to see John Cena back in action, too.

   The Jericho / AJ Styles match was very good, though it built slowly. The Brock Lesnar / Dean Ambrose match was fun - and pretty much exactly what I expected. 

   And since I'm a fan of the Royal Rumble, its "little brother" - the annual Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal (which included Diamond Dallas Page, Tatanka, the Big Show, Kane, Mark Henry, and Shaquille O'Neal) was a lot of fun. It was won by NXT star Barry Corbin (which got a huge pop from my youngest son).
   The final match was an interesting combination of great athletes - both Roman Reigns and Triple H are tremendous performers - and the match had some interesting twists, but Reigns, a good guy who's been cheated twice before, finally got a clean win. 

   The crowd reaction to Reigns (they booed loudly every time he got the upper hand) was puzzling, because the company was doing everything in its power to make him look good - pitting him against HHH and Stephanie, who only need top hats and mustaches to twirl to be more classical villainous - but just to be contrary, the fans continued to boo Reigns and cheer HHH. Not me, I was cheering Reigns - being contrary just to tweak the fans sitting around me.
   Not sure how it all played at home on the WWE Network, but it was a raucous, festive atmosphere at the arena - a lot of fun!
   It was a great experience and I'm so glad I could share it with my sons and their friends.  

   If you're a fan of "rassalin," you owe it to yourself to see the show live at least once. It was unforgettable!

1 comment:

El Vox said...

AT & T Stadium--yes, it's a super nice venue, as is Globe Life Park for the Texas Rangers. As a native Texan I felt an obligation to say that. :) I just wish we had a better football team to play there. Ouch.