Monday, April 2, 2007

The Road to My Second Wrestlemania

For those of you not in the fancy with me, I'm a bit of a wrestling fan. As such, I was at my second Wrestlemania event Sunday night which was held at Detroit's Ford Field. Having woken up early this morning thanks to allergies clogging my nose and still high from the experience, I have an itch to write things out about my day yesterday.

I left home early to check out the Fan Axxess Tour held at the Great Lakes Crossing in Auburn Hills. I'm sorry to say there was absolutely no superstars there whatsoever at the time I was there, which was about 3-ish to 4-ish. The event was also a bit smaller then I'd expected, though I'd not expect overly much, either. We watched some dude give away free gear to fans that did their best wrestler impressions and answered trivia. That was fun. We also got to place our hands against silhouettes of Andre the Giant's hands to see how massive he was, and saw some of the actual gear he wore (his boots were HUGE!). Johannah got a temporary airbrushed Batista tattoo on her arm (she was represtin' for the Filipinos... Batista's real name is Bautista, which is a very Filipino name... he's part Greek and Filipino). No pics of the tat, sorry. She washed it off before we got a chance to take a picture. =(

All three of us also got to pose for a free photo. May I introduce you to the newest Tag Team Champs and their valet:

Ok, so Demolition we ain't, but I think we could be entertaining. I'd make Joel take all the big bumps, though. ;)

We then headed off for Ford Field and Wrestlemania 23.

Having never been to Ford Field, we were relying entirely on MapQuest and road signs. That was a complete mistake. Once we got to our final junction/off ramp, we were slammed by serious and very dead-still traffic. We moved less than a quarter of a mile in 20 minutes. With the clock ticking down (it was now just after 6 PM and the show started at 6:30), I busted out my cell phone, called information, got the phone number for Ford Field and amazingly got a live person on the phone to help me! She asked where I was and I told her. She then said, "Oh, it's completely backed up, isn't it?" I said "Yeah." She asked "Can you see Mack Street? I think it's the next off-ramp if I know where you're at." I said "Yeah, it's right up ahead." She told me to take that and added a few more simple directions. I'll be damned if she didn't just plop us right in the lap of the stadium! Thanks anonymous Ford Field employee!

We had to stand in line and get searched and all that, which was more frustratingly slowness. But we got in and I went off to find my seats thanks to the help of yet another employee of the stadium (they scored some BIG points with me that day). As it turned out we were seated exactly opposite of where we had entered the stadium. To give you an idea of how big the place is, we had to take an elevator down to our level and then walk all the way around to our seats, navigating through 80,000+ people (as was announced later by Lillian Garcia). When we first walked into the stadium the dark match, which was a Lumberjack match with Carlito and Ric Flair vs Gregory Helms and Chavo, was just starting. By the time we got to our seats the final bell had already been rung and Carlito and Flair were celebrating in the middle of the ring. I was a little sad to miss this match, even if it was a mere warm-up to the actual broadcast.

Our seats were pretty good. We got a good view of the Titantron (the massive TV screen above the entrance where the wrestlers walk out). We were a bit further from the ring than I had anticipated. Ford Field is HUGE. I went to Wrestlemania 2000 at The Pond and though our seats were crappy there (right behind the Titantron) I felt we were closer to all the action than I was at Ford Field. This is not a strike against Ford Field or even my experience. It's more of an additional note as to the size of the place. Here's one strike against Ford Field: It WAS SO FREAKIN' HOT! It wasn't completely unbearable, only slightly uncomfortable. About every 20 minutes we could feel A/C being pumped in and it felt like heaven. Ford Field isn't a horrible venue, however. Just remember to dress lightly (no matter what the weather is like outside) and here's a hint (especially if you have a tendency to dehydrate like I do): water was $4 a bottle and beer was $8. I heard a few people saying they wished they'd purchased water instead of beer.

Then the evening's events officially started with Aretha Franklin singing and yadda yadda blahblahblah. Enjoyable and I love Aretha, but let's get back to the rasslin'.

They kicked things off fairly strong with the Money in the Bank Ladder Match. Participants were: Randy Orton, Mr. Kennedy, Finlay, Edge, Matt and Jeff Hardy, King Booker (accompanied by Queen Sharmell) and CM Punk. This match had a lot of potential in the jaw-dropping category of entertainment, and there was a moment when they had spread Edge out across a ladder suspended between the ring and the guardrail of the first row. Jeff Hardy was in the ring on a 14-or-so foot ladder, turned to see Edge on the ladder suspended across that small expanse outside the ring, and turned his back on the briefcase for a shot at Edge. Jeff went flying, the ladder under Edge damned near snapped in half (I'm assuming it was aluminum as it folded under like a jackknife aka folding knife).

There were several other moments, however, that made the match decent if not strong. Those moments include Edge whacking people with a little 2-foot step ladder and Hornswoggle running out from under the ring for his shot at glory by mounting a ladder and reaching desperately, but fruitlessly, for the briefcase (it was just out of his reach). Mr. Kennedy climbed another ladder next to the one Hornswoggle was on and brought himself face-to-face with the little guy. Hornswoggle punched Mr. Kennedy a couple times, and to Kennedy's credit he sold them decently. It all ended though when Mr. Kennedy grabbed Hornswoggle and lifted him up onto his shoulders, diving head-first into the mat with Hornswoggle under him and rolling through it. Serious props to Hornswoggle for taking a rather massive bump. Mr. Kennedy would later grab the briefcase and his chance at the title belt within the next year.

Next up was the first bathroom break match... meaning that it's a match so lame/uninteresting that it's thrown is as filler and is a good time to go to the bathroom because you know you won't miss anything. It was Kane and The Great Khali. I missed the whole damn thing and I don't feel gypped. I even got back to my seat and asked the guy next to me if I'd missed anything and with a rather bored look on his face he said "Just Khali winning."

The Benoit vs MVP match started out strong with some good technical mat wrestling akin to amateur Greco-Roman style stuff, but eventually descended into the typical 3-Suplexes into a Crossface schtick. While the start was strong, it ended like a typical Smackdown match. Boring. Been there, seen it. Good for Benoit for making another Wresltemania appearance, but the ending made it a cookie-cutter match. Maybe they threw it in for those folks that needed a little more time in the bathroom.

Then the Fink annouced/introduced the 2007 Hall of Fame inductees. It was nice to see Mr. Fuji again and The Wild Samoans. Good Ole J.R. and The King both deserve it, though the honor seems a bit premature.

One of the matches I was looking forward to was Taker vs Batista. Taker's intro was amazing. He had the druids with the torches and the fire from the pyro was so hot you could feel it in the rafters. The match itself was largely cookie-cutter as well, but the intensity of the pace was better than I expected and somewhat made up for that. It's also always memorable to see Taker do his suicide dive (a running dive out of the ring onto an opponent standing outside the ring in which the 'diver' leaps over the top rope) and the Old School (The move involves Undertaker grabbing an opponent's arm, walking along the top rope, and jumping off to deliver a clubbing forearm to the victim's back. It is called Old School because it is one of the first moves Taker performed in his early days with the company). There was also a decent exchange of finishers and escapes. Batista didn't really shine in this match, but only because he was being completely out-shined by Taker. Or maybe my fan status for Taker is making me biased. Either way, Batista helped keep up the pace and did his part but this match was all about Taker and his reign at Wrestlemania. Taker (if I remember) even delivered a powerbomb to Batista before finishing with a Tombstone. Count with me: 1... 2... 3... and Taker is the new World Heavyweight Champ.

I decided to go to the bathroom one last time, seeing as how by now we were just over 2 hours into the event and I knew there was a mere hour or so to go. While I was interested in the ECW Originals vs the New Breed match (I thought it had potential), since ECW is pretty much a dead horse that's just being beaten on I knew it wouldn't be the show-stealer. I decided to take my bathroom break at the beginning of this match. I did so quickly, got back to my seat, saw RVD do his schtick of Rolling Thunder and the Frog Splash, blinked and the match was over. Seriously, with a match including eight guys total and only lasting six-and-a-half minutes... I'm sure you can guess at the lameness of it all. It reeked of lame-iousity. Dripping with lame goo. I'll quit. So many guys, all decent to good wrestlers and it felt like the match was treated as nothing more than filler. Another bathroom break. I guess I got my money's worth, then, since a bathroom break is what I did.

Lashley (representing Donald Trump) vs Umaga (representing Vince McMahon) was a memorable and entertaining match. The wrestling was largely forgettable... actually, sitting here and unable to remember any actual wrestling I guess I need to correct myself and say that the wrestling was COMPLETELY forgettable. But it had many, many other freakshow-ish highlights:

Shane-o-Mac's Coast-2-Coast missile dropkick delivered to a trash can and Bobby Lashley.

Trump actually getting involved when he did a running tackle on Vince, sat on him and punched away at the top of his head.

Vince getting his head shaved (pretty funny stuff... he tried to sneak away but Lashley ran after him, threw him up onto his shoulders and carried him back, the whole while waving to the fans).

Trump actually taking a bump from Austin's Stunner.

Not spectacular, but funny as hell.

I have a lot of respect for women wrestlers and feel they don't have a real forum provided where they can shine. Women wrestling comes and goes without really ever going away. Sadly it's like a legitimized gimmick instead of an actual athletic event. The Women's Champ matches of the last many pay-per-views proves this. They trotted out all the 'Divas' dressed in their skimpy outfits (no complaints there) to have what they called a "LumberJILL" match (please note the rolling of my eyes). Ashley vs Melina was the third or fourth bathroom break match of the evening (not very good, in my humble opinion, when there's eight matches total on the card). Completely forgettable.

The final match between Cena and HBK was more entertaining than I thought it would be. I enjoyed seeing HBK make the dive from the ring's edge to the announce table where Cena was sprawled out. There was A LOT of back-and-forth move exchanges, finisher attempts and escapes. The crowd really got worked up all the way around the stadium. Wrestling-wise, it was an okay match (just okay) but the exchange they did in the ring was often times so fluid and pretty that they worked the crowd for a huge pop. I was a bit surprised to see HBK tap to Cena. That means he's effectively made DX tap at two consecutive Wrestlemanias. Crazy.

All-in-all a good time was had. It certainly wasn't the best Wrestlemania, but it was a ways off from the worst. In the end, I felt I got my $75 worth (that's what my ticket cost).


J.Ho said...

excellent write up--i can't wait to see the photo!

LordShen said...


For those wondering, the bump Edge took at WrestleMania was staged. As has been previously reported, Edge is still suffering from a fractured jaw. Jeff Hardy doing a leg drop off the ladder on to edge was all played out to get Edge out of the match without doing further damage to his fractured jaw. This was played out to keep his momentum in full effect and to keep his WrestleMania streak from being buried.

LordShen said...

The pic is now up!