Wednesday, May 9, 2001
SLAM! Wrestling Guest Column
Memories of a first Wrestlemania
Memory lane is sometimes more like a super highway. I have stories upon stories of memories that I can associate with my love for professional wrestling. I remember my first trip to the Gardens to see Hulk Hogan wrestle, I remember my first trip to 'The EX' to watch 'The Big Event' but my fondest memory of wrestling was also one of my fondest memories of life.
Wrestlemania VI, Toronto's first PPV event and also the biggest wrestling card to ever come to Canada. This was an event every Ontarian wrestling fan dreamed of and now it was coming to my own backyard.
Security opened the doors up at 9 a.m. on the nose and we rushed down to the 'Sam the Record Man' to get our tickets (We figured everyone must have been waiting at a closer entrance to try and one up us on tickets). To our surprise once again we were the first to arrive at the 'Ticket Master' and we told the lady we wanted the best tickets we could get. Unfortunately we didn't have enough money for the best tickets available but for $50 a pop we got the best tickets we could get.
Now it was the tough part, the two month wait for Wrestlemania. One would figure that this would be the time to work out plans for the long trip to Toronto. One would figure that it would be important to set up a ride. One would figure that anyone with any brains would had worked something out long before the day before Wrestlemania. One would figure, right? Yes one would figure, but we two didn't!
I slept over at Jeff's house that night. As we dozed off to Rick Derringer, we slept with smiles on our faces and our tickets in our hands -- and Jeff in full Hogan apparel. We woke before the alarm went off and woke up Jeff's mom to make us some breakfast -- she never understood why we had to wake at 6 a.m. for the 7 p.m. show -- bacon and eggs, I think it was, or was it french toast? At 7 a.m. Jeff and I were showered (yeah right!) and ready to go. Russ, Jeff's big, scary, grumpy, don't-talk-to-me, just-let-me-drive father, drove us to the St. Catharines bus terminal where we were to buy a ticket to Toronto and be en route to the most celebrated event in history.
Unfortunately (I hate that word, but it is all so familiar in my life) our bus would only take us as far as Oakville where they recommended we hop the 'Go Train' and continue on into Toronto. We forked our $13 dollars down (Jeff claimed he was a child but they informed him he would have to be accompanied by an adult, he quickly changed his story) and hopped on the awaiting bus.
I never realized Oakville was so far away. It only took my father 40 minutes to get me there for my hockey tournament. I guess when a bus is taking you to see Wrestlemania the trip is always a little longer. After what seemed like 6 or 7 hours the bus pulled into the Oakville terminal at 8:15 a.m. (Okay maybe the ride wasn't so long.) We got directions from the driver on where to catch the 'Go Train' and after a 15 second jog we were buying a 'Go Train' ticket for the 8:30 a.m. train. After plonking down another $5 dollars (Child fare, as Jeff has no shame and the girl didn't ask for ID this time) we were on the train and ready to rumble.
It is amazing how fast a trip goes when you are staring at drunken creepy old men and fat, dirty, old ladies sleeping in their seats like this was the Ramada. We were relieved to pull into Toronto's Union Station.
I'm not sure how well I remember the walk from Union Station to the SkyDome but I seem to have this vision of walking through a glass corridor filled with magazine stands, hot dog vendors and gift shops. Funny thing, when we got to the SkyDome they wouldn't let us in. The man working in the ticket booth told us we were about six hours away from the doors being opened, so there we stood dazed and confused.
We sat outside the doors (Did I mention it was early April and it was still very very cold?) on the cold pavement and named as many masked wrestlers as we could. The first one who couldn't come up with a masked wrestler would lose. This went on for about an hour, with long pauses in between each wrestler as we rattled our trivial minds to spew a name out our mouths, with a definite winner undecided -- I never heard of Mr. D, the last wrestler Jeff named, this was a debate that went unresolved. We turned our attention to the card at hand, even though we had already discussed it in great detail, and we made our predictions once again. Jeff and I were complete wrestling opposites as he always rooted for the face and I was always partial to the heel. The main event however was face vs. face as Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior were preparing to do battle, just to piss Jeff off I predicted Warrior would kick Hogan's ass.
Time went by rather quick and after several hog dogs and a small bout of diarrhea we were on our way into the SkyDome. We were confident that we could finds our seats on our own, after being ushered out of the wrong seats countless times, we did. Too bad, at one point we were sitting pretty at ringside. Turned out our seats were eye level with the ring and we had a great view down the ladies shirt in the row ahead of us (She was a little heavy but we were 15 and 'Knockers' were 'Knockers'.) The chill of Wrestlemania was creeping under my skin, the intensity could have been cut with a knife.
The matches started, opening match, mid-card matches, blah, blah, blah, we were all there for one reason and one reason only, we wanted Hogan and Warrior. The wrestlers were riding out to the ring on little miniature rings, this was very cool. What wasn't cool was the fact that Jeff kept farting and you could tell the people around us were getting annoyed. Every time Jeff would start to stink, he would turn his attention to me and start calling me a pig. They all thought I was the one causing all the stench. This was all part of being friends with Jeff though, I had come to accept it.
Time for Hogan vs Warrior. The chants echoed throughout the building, it was hard to tell if people were chanting 'Hogan Hogan Hogan' or 'Warrior Warrior Warrior' but it was chilling. Warrior, the challenger, was announced first as he ran like a mad man to the ring shaking the ropes and pounding his chest. I, not generally known for being a huge Warrior fan, went nutty. The crowd seemed to be in approval of The Ultimate Warrior. Then Hulk Hogan's music blared over the SkyDome and as much as I hated Hogan it was hard not to feel the energy he generated. Now it appeared the crowd would be cheering for Hogan.
The match went on for a while with tests of strength and exchanging duplicate moves but then Hulk started taking control. At one point Warrior was ripe for the pin but at the time the referee was knocked out. The referee came back through and Hogan went for the Big Foot/Leg Drop Combo but The Warrior sat up as the leg came down and Hogan missed the leg drop for the first time ever. Warrior went off the ropes came off with the Big Warrior Splash and took home the win and the title. On his way from the ring Hogan saluted his conqueror and left Warrior alone to bask in his own glory. The crowd was in a crazy state of cheering shock. Jeff was crying and I was smiling like boy after his first wet dream (relieved, yet confused).
We stuck around after the show and waited for 'Superstars' but came up empty. It was a quite ride back on the 'Go Train'. (Jeff didn't even try the child rate thing, I knew he was taking this hard.). My parents picked us up at the station in Oakville and took us the rest of the way home. I couldn't stop talking about the match, but Jeff was still in a state of depression.
I knew I had witnessed history. This was something I could tell my children and their children and their children about. This was a story that would go down in the 'Moreau Hall of Fame'. To this day and for the rest of my life, I will never forget my trip to Wrestlemania, 'The Greatest Show Ever!'
Phil Moreau is from Niagara Falls, Ontario and can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org. He has written for us once before, with The strange attraction to Maple Leaf Wrestling.