My Trip to Wrestlemania (Or How to Set Goals and Achieve Them)

Brett Whitehead
April 20, 2012

T
he idea for a trip to Wrestlemania came from my favorite wrestling podcast is The Old School Wrestling Podcast (hereinafter OSWP), [see www.flairchop.com]. The OSWP follows two men from Chicago who view wrestling PPVs that are at least ten years old and make snarky commentary, [see, which mentions the Beer Drinking Royal Rumble in the fan mail section http://www.flairchop.com/archives/1235]. In the fall of 2011, I was catching up on old episodes when one of the hosts began describing his trip to Wrestlemania 13 in Chicago in the spring of 2006. The host described the excitement of the crowd, the magnitude of the event and the amazing matches he witnessed that are now in the annals of WWE history [see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WrestleMania_13]. Inspired by the host’s soliloquy, I decided, regardless of where it was being held, I was going to Wrestlemania in 2012.

Fast-forward eight months to present day, March 20, 2012. In two weeks, I will be in attendance for Wrestlemania 28 in Miami, FL with my friend Steve Awesome and his wife Laura. We are leaving Saturday morning and coming home Monday afternoon. I ordinarily try to keep my pro wrestling fandom under wraps in my daily and professional life, but right now I am so excited I have been telling anyone I come into contact with.

With every big event in a man-child’s life, it’s good to be prepared. With all the hype surrounding the event, both on the TV and in my head, one can’t help but be afraid that there will be a letdown. To avoid a pre- and post-Wrestlemania hangover, I have set a collection of goals that I seek to obtain during my three-day trip to Miami. Enclosed are those goals, plus a running diary showing whether or not those goals were achieved.

Goal One – Do not let fantasy baseball ruin my weekend

On March 20, 2012, this goal was different. By way of background, I spend a lot of time in my car for work, so I listen to a lot of podcasts. Aside from the OSWP, I regularly listen to the ESPN Fantasy Focus Baseball Podcast. This podcast has a yearly competition called “The Man’s League”, in which listeners think up ways to promote the show in order to get into an exclusive fantasy baseball league. I KNOW, RIGHT!?!? Super cool.

Anyway, I submitted a suggestion whereby I would hold up a sign with a recognizable phrase in order to get into “The Man’s League”. The good news, they read my email on the air. The bad news, some other asshole did it last year, so I came off like a poser [see, March 20, 2012, http://sports.espn.go.com/espnradio/podcast/archive?id=2544461].

To make matters worse, two other fantasy leagues I play in had drafts that same weekend. One league I decided to draft first thing when I got to Miami, the other league I just quit. For purposes of Wrestlemania weekend, I want to ensure that I’m all wrestling all the time and not distracted by other ventures.

Running Diary: Chapter One

I originally had Goal Two as “crush yearly fantasy baseball league”, with the expectation that I would get off the plane to Miami and spend four hours auction drafting the above referenced fantasy league. Realizing pretty quickly that was a bad idea, I instead assigned the responsibility to Brutalhorse.com fantasy analyst Crazy Karl and instead went to this: https://www.rohwrestling.com/…/showdown-sun-day-2-ft-lauderdale-fl. This idea gets extra bonus points, since Steve Awesome is also in the same baseball league and is a much better fantasy drafter than his partner and me [see nevertrustaguydrunkonblimes].

Goal achieved.

Goal Two – See Miami

Miami is the holy grail of the Florida road-tripper. I visited Florida many times, but I never made it to Miami because Florida a hell of a lot longer than us Northerners give it credit for. After my first year in graduate school, my friend and I got in my 2002 Buick Skylark with no sleeping arraignments and barely any money, and trekked south for sunshine and beautiful women. We made it to the Florida border around 11 pm, only to find out that Miami was 7 hours away. Growing fatigued, we instead set up shop in Daytona Beach, spent one night sleeping on picnic tables, and lived off a diet of hotdogs, Bud Light, and Atlanta Braves fans [see http://www.looptvandfilm.com/blog/elton_john_braves_fan.jpg]

Unaffected by my own real world experience, my expectations of Miami are now shaped by popular culture. I expect equal parts Dexter and Scarface, with loud Latin music, pastel colors, and people shooting each other in the street. My plan is to wear white shorts and listen to a lot of Pitbull [see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D2N7POlWaEE].

Running Diary: Chapter Two

It would be easy for me to say that Miami is a city with overly nice people, terribly aggressive drivers, and crappy pizza, but I feel that way about all areas of the world that don’t include the three states that border Delaware. The only insight I can provide is that Miami fries junk food, fish sandwiches, French fries, and chicken fingers better than any other state in the Union.

Goal achieved.

Goal Three – Get a sweet wrestling t-shirt

This is actually a huge fucking deal. As I see it, I have one opportunity to represent the wrestler I most want to win. On the other hand, I don’t want to look like an idiot [see http://www.wweshop.com/…/ron-simmons-damn-t-shirt/…, or http://www.wweshop.com/…/stone-cold-steve-austin-what-retro-t-shirt/… (pro wrestlers love one word answers); http://www.wweshop.com/…/sheamus-great-white-authentic-t-shirt/… (kinda racist, right?); or http://www.wweshop.com/…/john-cena-rise-above-hate-authentic-t-shirt/… (much better!)]. Another problem with wrestling shirts is that they never fit right. I am guessing that the fit of WWE shirts is for WWE wrestlers, and since I am not frequent in Dianabol cycles, I am usually swimming in the mediums.

Ultimately, my goal is to get a shirt that will facilitate T-shirt props [see http://www.brutalhorse.com/articles/7/country-music-rocks-and-you-suck (editor’s note)]. In order to obtain T-shirt props, you need a cool looking shirt that no one else will have that will also elicit a random compliment from a stranger. Cool wrestling shirts are hard to find because WWE trademarks make finding independent wrestling shirts a rare commodity. They are not, however, an impossible commodity. After some trolling on the Internet, I stumbled upon the good people at redbubble.com and found this sick Ric Flair shirt [see http://www.redbubble.com/…]. I am usually not privy to subjecting my credit card to identity theft, but for a red Ric Flair shirt printed on American Apparel, I’ll take my chances.

Running Diary: Chapter Three

Upon receiving the shirt in the mail, the arrival of t-shirt props was an inevitability that quickly came to fruition. As it turned out, the best compliment I received on the shirt came from none other than Ricky “the Dragon” Steamboat [see http://media.screened.com/…ricky__the_dragon__steamboat_large.jpg]. Prior to Wrestlemania, WWE rents out a large convention center and charges an egregious amount of money for the opportunity to meet wrestlers and seek autographs. I’ll get more in detail on this later, but the event had sections where you can pose for a picture with WWE legends. I waited for about 15 minutes for a 15 second meeting with Steamboat, my favorite wrestler when I was eight and a wrestler whose Wrestlemania III match with Randy Savage got me so worked up that I threw up on myself. I like to believe that I’m too old to be star struck and while I wanted to say something funny or memorable, I ended up just stuttering and drawing a blank when I got up to meet him. Always the consummate professional, the Dragon said, “Hey man, I like your shirt. Ric Flair is the man.” Which is totally true. Ric Flair is the man.

Goal accomplished.

Goal Five – Drink a beer with a member of the Ring of Honor roster

There are two very important things that need to be clarified to explain this goal.

1) What is Ring of Honor? Ring of Honor (hereinafter ROH) is the third most popular professional wrestling promotion in the Unites States. See www.rohwrestling.com; and numberthreeinrevenuenumberoneinyourhearts. While it would be easy to describe ROH as AA or AAA baseball’s relationship to Major League Baseball, it is slightly more nuanced than that. While Ring of Honor provides WWE with many of its current stars—CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, e.g.—ROH provides a different type of product that is focused more on the “in ring” performance than the “soap opera” appeal of the WWE. This means that ROH features exciting 20-30 minute matches over drawn-out interview segments, and therefore ROH has a more old-school feel reminiscent of the 1980’s.

2) Why is Ring of Honor holding a show the weekend of Wrestlemania? For the pro wrestling community, Wrestlemania is like the Super Bowl. The event brings so many fans to the city hosting the event that other wrestling federations hold shows during the weekend of Wrestlemania in the same general area to piggyback on the momentum. Ring of Honor, for example, has two shows being held in Fort Lauderdale, Florida: one on Friday and another Saturday morning.
My goal is to somehow, someway drink a beer with a member of the Ring of Honor roster. With the City of Miami crawling with wrestling fans and wrestlers alike, it seems at least possible that an independent wrestler will be under the same roof as I am, looking for a free beer.

Running Diary: Chapter Four

I should note at the onset that my original plan to accomplish this goal failed before we arrived in Miami. By some stroke of luck, I have a friend who is in law school with a member of the Ring of Honor roster [see, not this guy http://www.rohwrestling.com/wrestlers/roster/mark-briscoe]. I emailed this person, asking if they would be in Florida and if they wanted to catch a beer and discuss how much John Cena was going to kick the Rock’s ass. Unfortunately, we were unable to meet, so I had to figure out how to hang out with marginally famous wrestlers through charm and guile alone.

Ring of Honor showdown in the sun day two

I am tempted to break this down match by match, but for reasons I am about to explain, I’ll just go through the highlights. Steve, Laura, and I flew into Miami super early on Saturday and attended this event shortly thereafter. After a long flight and a long drive getting acclimated to the area, Steve and I had beers for lunch. To our surprise and delight, Ring of Honor sold huge Bud Light drafts in Florida, so we enjoyed those throughout the show as well. Shortly after the event began, I became less interested in remembering all the specifics, and more interested in yelling at everyone.

Much like English soccer, the appeal of a live Ring of Honor show is in the crowd’s interaction with the product. The venue is small, so people regularly start chants and yell at the wrestlers in the hopes that their chants will catch on or the targeted wrestler will react to them. Previous Brutal Horse field trips to Ring of Honor are punctuated with long bouts of yelling at wrestlers and then laughing gleefully when we get recognition from the wrestlers in the ring. At an event we attended in January of 2012, Ray O’Connor spent a solid ten minutes yelling at Andy “Right Leg” Ridge (a wrestler who specializes in kicks with his right leg) to, and I quote, “USE HIS RIGHT LEG,” [see http://www.rohwrestling.com/…/andy-ridge]. During the closing interview at that same show, the crowd gave the heavyweight champion a string of complimentary chants, such as “thank you, Davey” and “this is wrestling,” [see http://www.rohwrestling.com/…/davey-richards. When everything went quiet, I bellowed out “LET’S GO FLYERS,” which drew a laugh that I’m confident was audible on the live pay per view broadcast. The point being is that I love being places where you can yell at the top of your lungs and this is most certainly that kind of atmosphere.

Steve and Laura were unfamiliar with Ring of Honor, but were quickly converted to fans, swayed by both the crowd interaction and high impact finishing moves, but Laura also for the constant string of hot guys. And make no mistake, it’s not that Laura only cares about the way men look and not the wrestling, Ring of Honor is just stacked with sweet looking dudes [see http://www.rohwrestling.com/wrestlers/roster/adam-cole http://www.rohwrestling.com/wrestlers/roster/tj-perkins].

From a wrestling standpoint, the highlight was the final match between Davey Richards and Michael Elgin. For future reference, “good matches” usually consist of impressive moves and lots of close finishes, both serving the purpose of building drama with the crowd. By the end of the weekend, there were at least 50 times that I yelled “ONE, TWO, OOOHHHHH!” which represented counting with the referee for the first two counts of the pin and then reacting with shock when the pinned wrestler kicked out. Another highlight of this match was that at previous events, Jessie D noticed that Michael Elgin looks like a “man baby” due to his youthful face and wrestling tights that look like a onesie [see http://www.rohwrestling.com/…/michael-elgin. Steve and I were moderately successful trying to start a “you’re a man baby” chant, although it was not as successful as the gentleman next to me who co-opted the theme of my chant and started chanting “baby dick.”

Another highlight was Delaware natives the Briscoe Brothers beating the team of mega-dicks Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin. Haas and Benjamin were previous WWE washouts who specialize in getting in shouting matches with the crowd for that same reason. Now, it’s everybody’s dream to get on TV one way or another and it’s very likely that Steve and I were shown during a post-match beat-down in which Benjamin and Haas rammed Marc Briscoe’s groin first into the turnbuckle. So, if you watched the PPV and saw a bearded drunk man with glasses yelling at Charlie Haas for cheating and giving him the finger, chances are that was me.

I had a mini-goal of seeing a title switch hands at an event, which came to fruition when Roderick Strong beat Jay Lethal for the ROH Television Title. The match ended when Jay Lethal took a finishing move in which he was held up in a suplex and then dropped on Strong’s knees back first. Along with featuring a dangerous, even for wrestling standards, finishing move, Roderick Strong is best known in my life for looking me straight in the eye and yelling “FUCK YOU!” in response to me yelling at him in January [see http://www.rohwrestling.com/wrestlers/roster/roderick-strong].

Although the show was entertaining and incredible, the show turned out to be our only interaction with Ring of Honor wrestlers. So I did not drink a beer with a member of Ring of Honor, but you could argue that I DID drink many beers with ALL the Ring of Honor wrestlers. They were just wrestling while I was yelling. But technically:

Goal unsuccessful.

Goal Five – Tell CM Punk that he is awesome

Shortly after an MVP campaign in which he hit .303, 58 homeruns and 143 RBIs for my hometown Philadelphia Phillies, Ryan Howard flew coach on a flight from Philadelphia to New Orleans to catch LSU play Notre Dame in the 2006 Sugar Bowl [see http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=2669508]. I know this because I was also on that flight. Howard hadn’t signed his rightfully deserved long-term contract yet, so Howard was crammed into a tiny seat next to the aisle.

As I approached Howard’s seat, it became fairly obvious that (1) this was Ryan Howard, and (2) no one in his row was aware that it was him. I mean, if that was me sitting next to the NL MVP, I would have spent the entire flight asking him about how awesome it was when he hit a walk-off homerun against the Braves, how close the Phillies were to finally make the playoffs if it wasn’t for shitty Billy Wagner, or at very least if he wanted to trade magazines. Unfortunately, I would only have a few moments to interact with him, so I just said:

Brett: Hey, are you Ryan Howard?
Ryan Howard: (trying to stay discrete) Yeah, man.
Brett: I just wanted to let you know, that I think you are awesome.
Ryan Howard: Thank you very much.

I walked back to my seat, and Howard, who was generally noticed soon after, spent the rest of the flight getting his picture taken and signing autographs. Ryan Howard was, and still is, my favorite Phillies and I felt good to tell him he was awesome.

Prior to the summer of 2011, I thought CM Punk was awesome [see http://twitter.com/#!/cmpunk]. After spending my youth listening to punk bands, it was hard to not have affection for a guy with tons of tattoos who came to the ring in a Hatebreed shirt. During the summer of 2011, CM Punk had a transcendent moment (as far as wrestling goes) that turned CM Punk from a middle of the road fan favorite, to a newsworthy superstar [see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2OS9wZGb_3g (the promo), http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zV5kMRZqk3k (the match)]. This was the last great heyday of the WWE and the last time I watched a wrestling pay per view with total suspended disbelief [see http://www.brutalhorse.com/articles/8/personal-reflections-on-pro-wrestling].

Last summer, I thought CM Punk was awesome. I suspect that there will be at least one instance where we will be in the same room, and during that meeting, I would like to tell him that he is awesome.

Running Diary: Chapter Five

If my plan to meet Ring of Honor wrestlers came off overly optimistic, the following plan was a true Hail Mary. The weekend before Wrestlemania, Jessie D and I hung out with a friend (for the sake of anonymity, we’ll call her “Diana”) who grew up in New Hampshire where her grandmother had a neighbor named Paul who was a very close friend of her family. Paul, as it turned out, was short for Jean-Paul, and Jean Paul was short for Jean-Paul Levesque. Jean-Paul Levesque was a pseudonym of Hunter Hearst Helmsley, AKA sixteen-time Heavyweight Champion HHH. I should note that the fact that anyone in the world calls HHH “Paul” is almost as ridiculous as Natalie Portman calling Darth Vader “Annie” through the last two Star Wars prequels [see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c6bEs3dxjPg (from 3:20 on)].

Anyway, after a few beers, Jessie’s friend floated out that she might be able to pull some strings to see if we could get backstage at Wrestlemania. Holy Shit, right?!? We parted under the condition that I would never bring it up again, but if it was possible, I would be forever grateful. I didn’t end up hearing back from Jessie’s friend, but in the end it turned out to be fine, as being backstage doesn’t always turn out for the best. When I was eight years old, my Dad got me backstage passes after a WWE event to meet Hulk Hogan. I was completely star-struck and my Dad wanted to get a picture of me shaking hands with the Hulkster to commemorate the moment. While I would love to link to that picture, some idiot walked right in front of my Dad’s camera right as the picture was taken, so the only picture I have of that event is a wide-eyed little Brett shaking an incredibly sweaty, large yellow hand.

Since there was no chance of getting backstage at Sun Life Stadium, our next best alternative was spending a way overpriced $40ish per person to attend the WWE AXXESS event at the Miami Convention Center. The primary appeal of AXXESS is that there are wrestlers available for pictures and autographs, although they have other hokey attractions like a “RISE ABOVE HATE” rock-climbing wall and a karaoke booth that only played John Cena’s theme music [see http://www.wwe.com/…/axxess-attractions. As three non-children, the appeal was limited to getting autographs, which turned out to be a sad insight into the world of professional wrestling legends.

The best time for us to attend the AXXESS event was Sunday afternoon before Wrestlemania, so all the wrestlers who were performing later that night were not in attendance. Luckily, the WWE is launching the WWE Network in the near future (totally buying it), so they are creating new reality shows to fill in the time between what I’m hoping are old ECW episodes and Bret “the Hitman” Hart matches. One of those shows is called Legends House, which co-opted the idea of The Surreal Life and instead put old wrestlers from the 80’s in one house [see http://www.facebook.com/LegendsHouse]. To promote Legends House, the AXXESS event trotted out Roddy Piper, Ted Dibiase, Jimmy Hart, Hillbilly Jim, and Harley Race.

As a long-time regular watcher of professional wrestling, WWE Legends were heroes to me when I was a kid. Along with my nostalgia, I also wanted some kind of memorable interaction out of the wrestlers, like I got with Steamboat earlier. Surely, I believed, the Dragon wasn’t the only personable Legend and the other wrestlers would be just as charming. That assumption was proven irrefutably wrong after I received the following piece of paper, which serves as the saddest piece of memorabilia ever made.


Exhibit 1
Exhibit 1: Harley Race and Ted Dibiase.

By way of reference, “The King” Harley Race was a world famous professional wrestler during what is more commonly known as the territorial days of professional wrestling. Before the advent of WWE, there were multiple professional wrestling organizations throughout the South, Midwest and Northeast that each had sole dominion over their region. Wrestlers would pass through different areas, but for the most part, each company stayed in their own area. This system changed in 1982, when owner Vince McMahon went national with his northeast based WWE and eventually put everyone else out of business [see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vince_McMahon,_Sr].

During wrestling’s first major peak in the 1980’s, Harley Race was in his early 40’s and was past his prime during the heydays of Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior. Even though his best days had passed, it was still understood (at least to me) that Harley Race was a legend in wrestling and worthy of respect [see, please, http://www.harleyrace.com/]. Race won the King of the Ring in 1986 and would end up being inducted in the WWE Hall of Fame in 2004 [see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harley_Race]. With that resume, I was very excited to find out that Harley Race was signing autographs at the end of the WWE Memorabilia museum, where I saw this awesome jacket.


Exhibit 2 The Four Horsemen jacket.
Exhibit 2: The Four Horsemen jacket back.


Exhibit 3 The Four Horsemen jacket.
Exhibit 3: The Four Horsemen jacket front.

Now, I am aware that “wrestlers not doing so well after a career in wrestling” isn’t exactly newsworthy [see, if you have to http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1125849/]. However, it is one thing to see a boring movie, read a few internet articles, or start a wrestler death pool with your friends, and it is entirely another to see a former wrestler that you used to admire as a miserable old jerk with a pack of Marlboro lights in his front pocket. As I said before with Ricky Steamboat, I was super excited to meet these guys, so I walked up to Race and said:

Brett: Harley Race! It’s really good to meet you man! I used to love your old matches with Ric Flair. How’s it going?

It is hard to describe a look of annoyance, pity, and disgust in print, but I can assure you that Harley Race did not give two fucks about anything I had to say. I had no memorabilia to sign, so Harley Race slowly pulled out a laminated white piece of paper, wrote his name in cold silence and handed me the sheet without making eye contact. When I left the tent, it was not only super funny that Harley Race looked like hell and had cigarettes on him, but also what was I going to do with a piece of white paper signed by Harley Race? It wasn’t personalized, there was no picture behind it, and there was still 75% of the page completely empty. My first inclination was to just throw it out, but I figured I’d take another lap around the convention center and see if I could get someone else to sign the same page.

Luckily, we then saw a medium-sized line waiting the opportunity to meet “The Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase. Once again for reference, the Million Dollar Man was a career bad guy who unfortunately spent his career arc losing to Hulk Hogan. During Hogan’s approx. decade long collective run as Heavyweight Champion, Dibiase was rumored to be in line for a title run, but never got the opportunity because of Hogan’s popularity/arrogance [see http://wfigs.proboards.com/…classicwrestling…]. Dibiase’s gimmick was that he was incredibly rich so he could buy championships, gold-sequined jackets, and even a body guard named Virgil, who was a racially-inappropriate-even-at-the-time manservant [see http://www.wwe.com/…/virgil].

While my encounter with Harley Race was not what I expected, I once-again assumed that Dibiase was more professional. We waited 45 minutes in line until I once again was given the opportunity to meet and get a picture with a childhood hero. Once again, I engaged the Legend through my life-long appreciation of his work:

Brett: Ted Dibiase! It’s really good to meet you man! I used to love your old matches with Hulk Hogan. How’s it going?

Once again, I had no other memorabilia to sign, so I just handed Dibiase the same sheet of paper that Harley Race just signed. Dibiase looked at the sheet, looked at me, rolled his eyes, and signed the sheet, saying nothing. I don’t know if this is how it works when you get autographs, but there is a second between when I talked and when the person signed the page, when you could just tell that they are so annoyed that people still care about them. Inexplicably, Dibiase felt the need to put an “&” between his autograph and Harley Race’s, which makes absolutely no sense since they were not a team and weren’t even together when the autograph was given.

I held on to the piece of paper, although it’s hard to imagine what I’m going to do with it. My mom recommended that I frame it, but it’s not really that impressive either in presentation or in star power. In the end, I never got to meet to CM Punk, but I did get a commemorative white sheet of paper to remember that I will never ask for anyone’s autograph ever again.

Goal unsuccessful.

Goal Six – Make a ridiculous sign that gets on the Wrestlemania broadcast

It is common practice that people bring signs to WWE events to hold up in the crowd [see http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080126052412AAAIPZj]. As I stated in Goal 1, my original intent for a sign was to promote a fantasy baseball podcast for a chance at fleeting recognition. My new intent is to make an inappropriate and juvenile sign that will make people laugh at home. So if I can’t live in infamy for losing an invite-only fantasy baseball league, I will make my name by showing hundreds of thousands of people around the world a sign that says “BLOOD FARTS.”

Running Diary: Chapter Six

I should mention at this time that our seats for Wrestlemania were fantastic, and to that end I owe Steve and Laura a great deal of gratitude. Almost all WWE events these days take place indoors at basketball/hockey-sized arenas, but Wrestlemania, due to the grand scale of the event, is held in open-air football stadiums. The lay-out leaves a little to be desired by way of intimacy, but the lack of a roof allows the WWE to blow out the fireworks more than usual, so I suppose the tradeoff works. This year, it was held at Sun Life Stadium where the Miami Dolphins play. The official attendance was 78,363, which was a record attendance for the stadium [see http://www.hollywoodlife.com/2012/04/03/wrestlemania-28-the-rock-john-cena-breaks-attendance-records-wwe-miami-sun-life-stadium/]

Our seats were on the floor, which put us about 25 rows or 50 yards away from the ring. Being close was great for our general enjoyment of the event, but the even-better value was in the now higher probability that any sign we made would likely be shown on the broadcast.

We all agreed that we would have to make signs and they would have to say something stupid. I stayed the course with my previous idea of BLOOD FARTS, but dropped the BLOOD and added an exclamation point at the end for a succinct “FARTS!” sign (see Exhibit 4). On the other side of the “FARTS!” sign, I wrote the slightly more nuanced “BALDSPOTS IN A CELL,” which is a reference to the Undertaker/HHH Hell in a Cell match refereed by Shawn Michaels (see Exhibit 5). This fact was capitalized by the match itself: all three of those wrestlers are in their late 40’s/early 50’s and are the oldest active wrestlers on the WWE roster. While HHH has a full head of hair, Shawn Michaels and the Undertaker both get a little thin up top once their matches go five minutes and their heads get sweaty. Interestingly enough (at least to me), the switch to high definition has not been kind to the WWE and one has to wonder if their slow and reluctant switch to HD wasn’t a purposeful way to hide the grey hairs, leathery skin, and receding hair lines of their senior wrestlers.


Exhibit 4 Farts.
Exhibit 4: Farts.


Exhibit 5 Baldspots in a cell.
Exhibit 5: Baldspots in a cell.

The “FARTS!” sign was a success in the way that you would expect it to be. I proudly held up my sign at every opportunity and the reaction was generally the same. People would look up, confirm that the sign did indeed say “FARTS!” and either laugh or shake their head with a smile. Throughout the event, a cameraman would run through our section and film general reaction shots to fill in space on the air. Toward the end, he came within yelling distance, so I yelled:

Brett: Hey! Can you film my sign so it gets on the air??

The cameraman gave a nod of approval and readied the camera on his shoulder, probably not expecting what I held up. I pulled the sign out from under my seat and stood on my chair so he would have an unobstructed view. He looked up, started laughing and put his camera down with a look that again you can probably envision. I implored him to film it anyway, and while he picked up his camera and shot in my direction, the red recording light was suspiciously nowhere to be seen, so I am pretty sure the “FARTS!” sign didn’t make it on the broadcast.

After the event was over, I held it up as people were leaving to the same general reaction. Laura took this picture of me, which, if I ever write memoirs, will most certainly be the cover.


Exhibit 6 Glory farts.
Exhibit 6: Glory farts.

Goal unsuccessful.

Goal Seven – Watch the greatest Wrestlemania in history

This should go without saying, but I’m going to let future Brett take it from here.

Running Diary: Chapter Seven

The card for Wrestlemania was as follows. I will try to give a brief overview of the matches for those unfamiliar with the WWE roster. I’m going to over-generalize because for the most part wrestlers are either good guys or jerks.

  1. Sheamus (grotesquely white-skinned good guy) def. Daniel Bryan (jerk who doesn’t appreciate women) for the WWE Championship. I heard the entrance music for this match while I was buying concessions. After getting a hot-dog, I took an extra 15 seconds to get mustard and unfortunately, this stupid match was only 15 seconds long, so getting mustard meant I missed the whole match.
  2. Kane (bad guy dressed like a horror movie villain) def. Randy Orton (used to be a jerk, now a good guy). Not a lot to report except for a sweet top rope choke slam to secure the victory for Kane. In a poll that consisted just of Laura, Randy Orton was voted the hottest man in all of wrestling.
  3. Big Show (Andre the Giant-lite) def. Cody Rhodes (generic jerky bad guy). Big Show beats Cody Rhodes with a punch to the face.
  4. The Undertaker def. HHH (if you don’t know these guys than you stink). This match was perfect, from the intros through the conclusion. When Undertaker came down the ramp, the stage shot off twenty-foot tall fireballs and we could feel the heat from them 200 yards away. This was the first of about three main events on the show in which the entire 70K people in the stadium were totally involved. Whereas I previously believed that Ring of Honor’s participation was integral to the enjoyment, the chants and participation here were of a whole other level. Both wrestlers are fan favorites and had their supporters, so the stadium was divided back and forth throughout the match. It was by far the loudest, most raucous crowd I have ever seen live and the collective joy when the match ended was unparalleled to any sporting event I had seen before. Late-July Phillies games just don’t have the same value of one man dropping another man on his head to secure a three count.
  5. Maria Menunos (host of gossip TV show EXTRA) & Kelly Kelly (good diva) def. Eve (jerk diva) and Beth Phoenix (tough diva). Just so you know, WWE calls their women wrestlers “divas” and that is not a term that I’m either creating or using on my own. This match just kind of was what it was. The action was good, but people had a hard time buying the host of EXTRA pinning the current women’s champion. I tried contradicting the misogynistic “BORING” and “YOU CAN’T WRESTLE” chants with a “THAT IS SEXIST” chant, but no one joined in.
  6. Team Laurinaitis (jerk team) def. Team Long (good team) – Not much going on here except for lots of “finishing moves.” Steve and I got beers, which were thankfully sold throughout the event without a cut-off point. When we got back, we started a $1 pool to see who would take the final pin-fall, since the overall conclusion to the match was a foregone conclusion for everybody in our section. The guy who ended up winning likely took advantage of the aforementioned beer policy, as he forgot whom he picked and refused to take the money we collected from him.
  7. CM Punk (good guy Heavyweight Champion) def. Chris Jericho (pseudo-main stream celebrity jerk). There’s a proclivity for wrestlers who enjoy fame outside of wrestling to come back for a few more events and do a “I’m too good for this” gimmick, and Jericho is no exception. This match was also a great wrestling match that had a strong majority of CM Punk fans happy with the conclusion. My only complaint with this match, and this event in general, is that the view wasn’t really good for anybody. We spent most of the match watching it on the jumbotrons set around the stadium.
  8. Rock def. John Cena. Ugh, this fucking match. Here’s the thing. I generally don’t get too up or too down from sporting events anymore. Once the Phillies won the World Series and I realized that I had nothing to do with it or nothing to gain, it was hard for me to be overly invested in the local sports teams anymore. While this is sad to admit, I had to come to the same conclusion with wrestling, although that realization came about many years earlier.

For one reason or another, I was super bummed out that John Cena lost. Like, Phillies losing the World Series in 1993 when I was thirteen years old bummed out. As a 30-year-old man who can usually predict how things turn out and as a life-long WWE fan who likes to be surprised, I really thought that John Cena was going to win. I thought that the WWE story had more places to go if Cena won and I thought that Cena was just a better character than the Rock leading up to the match. On a fan side and fan who knows too much side, I thought this match was a foregone conclusion. When Cena lost, all I could do was put my hands on my head and commiserate with the two 20-year-old guys from Kentucky who also could only stare out in disbelief as 70% of the crowd around us went crazy and chanted “CENA SUCKS.”

The Aftermath

During the process of waiting for 70,000 people to file out of the stadium, Steve and Laura struck up a conversation with a group of eight Scottish men dressed in kilts. They bonded over Steve’s Scottish heritage and they all agreed to meet in the parking lot afterward while we waited for traffic to file out.

Needless to say, it’s hard to stay too depressed about a wrestling main event when there are eight drunken Scotsmen playing WWE theme songs through an iPod and re-enacting each corresponding wrestler’s entrance. I kept thinking “Eventually, this guy in a kilt impersonating Shawn Michaels isn’t going to be funny anymore”, but you know what, it never got tiresome. We hung out for about two hours after the event was over, dancing in the parking to WWE songs and yelling at cars that passed by.

In my experience, I believe I witnessed the Greatest Wrestlemania of all time. Aside from Ring of Honor, Axxess, and Wrestlemania, the best part was that everyone who was there was so incredibly nice and welcoming to each other that the happiness everyone felt was infectious. I have never been to the Super Bowl or the World Series, but I imagine that (1) everyone is nervous going into it, and (2) at least 30% of the crowd goes home super pissed. This means that there are 80,000 people who are miserable for 99% of the event. This was totally different. Not only was everyone friendly and happy at Wrestlemania, but also wrestling fans that weekend in Miami were easy to find and even easier to talk to. Everywhere we went, there was at least one person in a wrestling shirt who wanted to talk wrestling. Three men sitting next me at a bar, who were yelling at the TV because Louisville was losing in the Final Four, became infinitely happier when we started talking about CM Punk and buying shots for each other. In our hotel lobby, a girl in the Rock’s “Boots to Asses” t-shirt asked if she could bum a ride from us, total strangers mind you, because we were all wrestling fans and therefore trustworthy. Amidst those and many other stories, the best part about Wrestlemania weekend was being around 80,000 people having the time of their life. And as a guy who struggles to find anyone who wants to talk about wrestling at my age, this was heaven. Even though the ending was not what I hoped for and I suffered from a two day hang over in the two days that followed, I firmly believe that Wrestlemania is a trip every wrestling fan should experience to the fullest extent available. Lucky for us, we get to do it again next year. http://www.cagesideseats.com/2012/2/15/2801161/report-wwe-wrestlemania-29-location-will-be-new-jerseys-metlife..

Goal successful.

brett.whitehead@brutalhorse.com
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