If this introduction bores you, please skip ahead to the running diary, which I promise is universally funny and insightful.
Like many (if not closet-ly most) twenty-something boys, I’ve had an odd, long and winding relationship with professional wrestling. I got into it just before Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, and Scott Hall formed the NWO in 1996 and faded out around 2000ish when Stone Cold Steve Austin, Degeneration X, and The Rock started to peter out. Even as I was well aware that ultimate outcomes were scripted, the storylines were fluid and shocking. The unpredictability made it compelling.
In the ensuing decade, I faded in and out of wrestling to varying degrees ranging–I could go six months to a year without ever flipping to it or I could watch it two-three times in a month’s span–but my days of reading about it three hours a day on news/rumor web sites and message boards were over.
For reasons The Masked Man has written about on Grantland far more knowledgeably and eloquently than I can explain, CM Punk’s microphone appearances and matches were singularly captivating enough to bring Raw to Tivo status for the last nine months. While I don’t watch every week and I’m certainly not back to the status of reading about it on news sites and message boards (yes, I spent A LOT of time doing that when I was 10-12), I sort of have a handle on what’s going on–who’s a good guy, who’s a bad guy, who’s interesting, who automatically gets fast forwarded through.
While it was refreshing that CM Punk seemed to embody different story archetypes than the ones that made pro wrestling grow stale in the early 00′s, a lot of the theatrics in the WWE remain unchanged. I’ll describe these specifically in my recap but they’re SO blatant and predictable that they are endearing. These consistencies–some of which date back decades while others were developed when I was watching religiously–make the WWE the gold standard of the the unintentional comedy scale, sharing that status only with the Fast and the Furious series.
A few Sundays ago, I grabbed dinner at Rocks, a great neighborhood bar in Lincoln Park, and it was randomly showing the WWE pay-per-view as, I found out, it always does. As these things actually cost an unconscionable $65 ($55 base and if you’ve already relinquished your dignity to spend that much on a wrestling PPV, what’s another $10 for the HD feed?), this was quite a valuable discovery considering that their food is good enough that I’d eat there anyways.
Last night, I got to Rocks at 5:40–about 20 minutes before Wrestlemania started–and grabbed three of the last five seats in the bar. The other two were swapped up immediately. The crowd would gradually increase to the extent that it was difficult to navigate your way from your seat to the bathroom, creating an absolutely surreal environment. People were into it. Retro diary after the jump.
Continue reading Wrestlemania 28 Recap/Diary