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   October 01, 2014



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Why grown men can't resist Wrestlemania
By JOHN LAW - Niagara Falls Review


The Rock versus Steve Austin really "blew up" at WrestleMania 17.

It hits at the same time every spring.

The fretting. The stressing. Can I afford it this time? Will something bad happen if I just skip it?

No, not taxes. Wrestlemania.

The inner dialogue gets worse every year. How does a grown man justify spending $60 on a wrestling pay-per-view? How do you explain to your significant other we'll be without groceries this week because The Undertaker is trying to extend his Wrestlemania winning streak to 22? That the hydro bill has to wait because you really want to see Daniel Bryan kick Triple H's ass?

You can't. You just have to hope the show is worth the shame.


For the record, I haven't ordered a Wrestlemania since 2002 the year Toronto refused to boo bad guy Hulk Hogan and cheered mightily as he faced The Rock. It wasn't a great match but it was a great wrestling moment. I still get chills watching it because it was 68,000 people at the SkyDome ignoring the WWE storyline and embracing their nostalgia. Unscripted and unbelievably cool.

This is why casual wrestling fans perk up around Wrestlemania. They will mock everything WWE does all year, second guess every dumb decision, but memories of past Wrestlemanias make you forgive the crap.

Randy Savage and Ricky Steamboat putting on a wrestling clinic in 1987 (Wrestlemania III).

A bloody Stone Cold Steve Austin refusing to tap out to Bret Hart in 1997 (Wrestlemania 13).

Austin vs. The Rock, at their peak in 2001, putting the Astrodome through the wringer for a masterpiece of in-ring storytelling (Wrestlemania 17).

Mention those matches to wrestling fans and they grow misty. These are the moments that make all the 'baggage' of being a wrestling fan worthwhile. The mocking, the ridicule. The general public thinks of us as the guy in that infamous video crying "It's still real to me, dammit!" In reality, we're fans of the performances. Austin's rebellious redneck. Mick Foley's scruffy fall guy. For about ten years, The Rock was must-see TV a perfect creation of comic timing and action movie swagger. We knew he would be huge before the rest of the world did.

The fact he could put on a great match when needed made him the industry's biggest star, and it's the reason he gets a rapturous reaction whenever he returns. He didn't 'sell out,' he broke through. He validated why we watched every week.

Sunday is Wrestlemania's 30th anniversary, and to mark the occasion they're bringing back Hulk Hogan to 'host' the show, which will no doubt involve a leg drop on someone before the night is done.

That's the predictable part. But it's the out-of-nowhere moments that will linger with fans and not make them cringe when the cable bill arrives. When best friends Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero embraced in the middle of the ring at the end of Wrestlemania XX, finally champions after years of paying dues, there was an ecstatic reaction from fans. You knew you were watching something special.

Will there be another moment Sunday? That's the mystery of Wrestlemania - you'll never know, and curse when you miss them.

Now excuse me while I try and find $60 in my couch.

RELATED LINKS

  • More on WrestleMania 30
  • Previous Guest Columns

    John Law has been The Review's arts and entertainment writer since 1990.