|Arjun Chatterjee and his son, Liam, sport their new WWE shirts at the Toronto Raw stop on Friday at the Ricoh Coliseum. Photos by Mike Mastrandrea
TORONTO - It's 7:15 p.m., Friday night. The weather has turned on a razor's edge, itís getting dark and the wind whips us around as we push into the crowds and the anticipation builds.
My son Liam and I are standing in the parking lot of Toronto's Ricoh Coliseum. Liam is 14 and is completely into "The Road to Wrestlemania." There is a long black limo parked outside. Liam wants to know which wrestler is inside as we walk past. The night feels full of possibilities.
On the card tonight is John Cena. Liam is on the fence. Should he support him or go with the crowd? He's never been to a live event and he is brimming with questions. Will John Laurinaitis be there? Will he fight Teddy Long? Will Jerry "The King" Lawler be at ringside? Will he shake his hand? All these questions as we make our way through the lobby.
A friend couldnít make the show at the last minute so we happily obliged. We find our seats. The arena looks tiny to me. Liam only has eyes for the ring. He is busy scanning the entrance looking for any semblance of the setup he sees on Monday nights. Where are the announcers? Where are the fireworks? I explain that this is a house show; they scale it down.
They announce Santino vs Jack Swagger. Liam is on his feet cheering Santino and booing Swagger. At his side are a few kids screaming at the top of their lungs. He is fully under the wrestling spell. The match ends and I make my way to the merchandise stands. He really wants a Little Jimmy t-shirt. I stand in line with aggressive Moms and Dads pushing forward to get the "right" shirt.
I hear all the banter going back and forth in line. Two kids are completely amped. One fully believes Edge and Christian are here and will make a run on because itís Toronto -- right? The other kid nods. The rumours spread fast. When R-Truth was a bad guy, Liam didn't like him, but he loves the craziness of Little Jimmy.
Some friends have joined us in the next seats, Ashleigh and Andy. Liam bombards her with wrestling facts and Andy and I trade some banter. His dad was a wrestler and I got hooked as a boy watching Maple Leaf Wrestling. The next few matches are a blur. R-Truth and the Miz battle it out. Jericho is the consummate professional as he riles the crowd up. Liam is already hoarse, and having a riot. Things are moving so fast around us that by the time we get some popcorn and Twizzlers, the tag title matches have already come and gone. The crowd is polite for John Cena and Kane.
Liam is waiting for pyros that donít come. Dolph Zigglerís music hits. The mood immediately changes. The main event is here. The crowd absolutely erupts for CM Punk.
The match is a battle for supremacy as itís a best-of-three falls match. Punk wins the first one. Then Dolph wins one. The play by play is lost on me as Chris Jericho runs in. Liam is grabbing my arm. There he is!! There is genuine concern on Liamís face. Itís a great moment. Then CM prevails and it is over.
Liam immediately wants to do it again. As we grab our coats and merchandise he is talking non-stop about how cool it was. He begins to describe the matches by what he remembers. His favourite moment was Santino beating Jack Swagger with the Cobra. He was sad that Eve beat Kelly Kelly. Then the sentences sped up: Chris Jericho beat Kofi Kingston, R-Truth beat the Miz, John Cena prevailed over Kane and did you see how big Mason Ryan was in the tag match with Alex Riley when Primo and Epico fought? And how mean Chris Jericho was when he interfered in CM Punkís Match?
Mentally I calculate the matches I missed as I was in line getting t-shirts, food, etc. We pass by the back entrance where the wrestlers are getting into their respective rides. Itís bitterly cold outside now and the wind is merciless. There are no limos, exotic cars or pyros, no witty announcers, sneaky camera angles or tricky general managers. Liam doesnít care. You can see it in his eyes, the adrenaline is still there, and he canít wait for Wrestlemania. Heís hooked.
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Liam Chatterjee is happy about his new Little Jimmy shirt and experiencing the WWE live. Arjun Chatterjee is an old school wrestling fan and freelance writer based out of Toronto. Arjun can be contacted at email@example.com.