Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Wrestlemania 27: A Love Story

"Wrestlemania isn't the Super Bowl of wrestling. The Super Bowl is the Wrestlemania of football." -- Dan Kunka

I consider myself a pretty respectable guy. Some might say buttoned-down. But let it not be said that I lack the common touch. My first car was a pickup truck. I will fight anyone who disparages Skynyrd's first album. And I have been known to watch professional wrestling.

My old college roommate and Everyday Hamster Dan Kunka had a freakish love for rasslin' (he used to go to wrestling events by himself), and about the same time that he started getting me hooked, I was asked to write a weekly wrestling roundup for work (during my days writing for radio morning shows -- the jocks in the south especially loved this segment). So, in 1999, on the company dime, I saw my first pay-per-view, Wrestlemania 15. And I'm not gonna lie -- I did not hate it.

There's the spectacle. The audacious Americana (remember, professional wrestling was one of the first televised sports). The nostalgia for a time when Hulk Hogan was a household name (even though I never, ever watched back in the '80s heyday). The late '90s and early '00s was also the era of The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin, two of the most brilliantly conceived characters on television anywhere at that time, and so I was more than happy to tune in for Wrestlemanias 17 and 18. And when Wrestlemania 20 came back to where it all started, Madison Square Garden, I WAS THERE. Not alone. With Kunka and our boy Pete. And you know how teenage girls used to get all overcome with emotion and cry when the Beatles would take the stage? Well, with 50,000 fans chanting the Rock's name at Madison Square Garden, I finally started to understand that.

And so, a few weeks ago, when I learned that The Rock -- after a long hiatus from wrestling -- was coming back to propel a Wrestlemania storyline (and conveniently get exposure for his forthcoming action movie), I started to tune in again.

And when I casually put it out there to the poker people that maybe we should get together for Wrestlemania, and Justin and Kayleen both said they were down (was it the return of The Rock? The prospect of Snooki...wrestling...against the real-life widow of former champ Eddie Guerrero, who won the title at Wrestlemania 20 when I WAS THERE?), well, we just had to throw a little watch party.

So, on Sunday night, this happened:

Me and The People's Champion

And this:

After The Rock electrified the millions (and millions) of The Rock's fans by interfering during the main event, we got Kayleen THIS close to buying an "I Bring It" t-shirt. (The Rock didn't actually wrestle -- he hasn't in years -- but he didn't need to. We all went a little crazy anyway.)

As for the rest of the four-hour extravaganza, well, Triple-H and The Undertaker put on an incredible match that stole the show...Snooki was amazing (really, it's not that much of a stretch to go from Jersey Shore to professional wrestling)... and Stone Cold Steve Austin came down to the ring on a camouflaged ATV (classic Austin!) to referee a match between Jerry "The King" Lawler and heel announcer Michael Cole (completely brilliant).

Oh, and on last night's WWE Raw, they announced the main event for Wrestlemania 28 in Miami: John Cena (the #1 contender to the title, the most popular wrestler in the game, and the guy that The Rock screwed over on Sunday night) vs...THE ROCK!

Miami, here we come!

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