That Night Of Nights
by Matthew Damascus
When Cometh Wrestlemania…
An Easy Beginner’s Guide To Preparing For The Big One
Wrestlemania 17 (or X-Seven in WWF speak) is almost upon us. Rejoice! This Sunday, April 1, beginning at 8 PM! Not to sound like a shill, but what else are you gonna do that night, watch the Sopranos? C’mon, you suffered through the Oscars just to see Bjork flub all of her lines, now you deserve a treat. A $39.95 treat to be exact. That’s some serious grappling/pampering crossover admittedly, but the payoff will be sweet.
Now, despite what James Mann may claim, there is NO such thing as watching TOO MUCH wrestling, and if you’ve strayed from the fold… perhaps you got sick of watching Hulk Hogan flex muscles coated with Ben Gay, perhaps you winced at Randy “Macho Man” Savage’s campy delivery during Slim Jims commercials… well, it’s the perfect time to tune in, dad. What with all of the recent upheavals in the wrestling biz (like WWF y’know buying all of its competition) providing some edgy context and arguably the best card ever for the event from a WRESTLING perspective, this is THE wrestling event of the year. C’mon. Make a day of it.
How To Spend That Sunday:
Wrestlemania doesn’t start until 8:00, that’s 7:00 if you watch MTV’s PPV hype rimjob “Sunday Night Heat,” but that still leaves a whole lotta day without wrestling. What to do? You’re in luck, since I’ve got a whole caboodle of diversions and suggestions.
What To Watch Pre-Wrestlemania–
1. Jim Cornette Shoot Interview — Available through RFVideo.com. I dunno, maybe they can FedEX it to you or something. This is a two-tape set, eight hours worth of Jim Cornette anecdotes from his days in Memphis, WCW, ECW, SMW, NWA and the WWF. Essential because Cornette radiates love and reverence for the business, and its damn infectious.
2. Fight Club — Hmm, that was pretty snarky + unoriginal, how about…
3. Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars — You’ll be surprised and pleased about the parallels you’ll see between these two hermetically-sealed worlds. It takes a lot of planning to stage spectacles like these.
What To Read Pre-Wrestlemania–
1. WWF Magazine — Aside from the obvious, the new issue has this kerrrazy article about how Triple H, in order to beat his opponents both mentally and physically, takes lessons from Sun Tzu’s “The Art Of War.” I shit you not.
2. Or Maybe You Want A Good Laugh — Track down Roland Barthes’ “groundbreaking” study of semiotics in the arena of professional wrestling.
3. Done Laughing Yet? — Find articles written by Barthes wannabes that, with a disturbingly straight face discuss the negative sociological implications of dated wrestlers like the Iron Sheik, Bad News Brown, and Kamala the Ugandan Headhunter.
What To Eat Pre/During Wrestlemania–
1. Brown Rice… and uh, anabolic steroids? Perhaps a frosty mug of Creatine?
2. A Nice Cheeseball With Crackers.
What To Talk About Pre-Wrestlemania–
1. All of the scintillating rumors floating around that WCW wrestlers will “invade” the proceedings. Even the merest hint of such intrigue will make wrestling fans at all levels salivate involuntarily, NO MATTER WHAT PROTESTATIONS TO THE CONTRARY ARE MADE.
2. Gimmick Battle Royale!! Nothing better demonstrates the generational gap between WWF fans than this addition to the Wrestlemania Event. Basically, the cream of the most crap 1980’s gimmicks — Kamala, Earthquake, Iron Sheik, Bushwackers, Hillbilly Jim, many more — are going to be “fighting” it out in ONE RING to determine whose gimmick will remain supreme! Why just a week ago I was freaking out about the addition of Brother Love (evil evangelist) as a participant, and a noticed a surfeit of blank stares being pointed my way. To think that some people were weaned (wrestling-wise) on Steve Austin instead of Ric Flair and/or the WWF’s steady stream of bizarre characters (a garbageman who wrestles?). If you’re a newish fan, consider this match an essential crash course.
2. Is There Any Hipness Cachet To Be Gained From Motorhead Performing At Wrestlemania? — Ha! Caught you! Who cares if its hip? Millions of people have to see Lemmy! My god, I have to go wipe a tear away.
Who To Watch Wrestlemania With:
1. No More Than Two People: It’s a sad fact of life that whenever you gather more than three people to watch wrestling, 75% of those people feel the need to gratuitously crack wise and distract from the grandeur of this event. Tell’em to take their “biting wit” elsewhere. You don’t need to be informed every time someone blows a spot, or every instance where a large amount of disbelief needs to be suspended. Fuckheads.
2. WWF Figures — Buy a bunch of ’em! Sit ’em around you! Take your frustrations out on ’em! Seriously, as I’ve said before these new “Realscan” figures are incredible — just like an army of deathmask-wearing dolls. They’ll add to the festivities, any way you look at it. Trust me.
3. A Motorhead Fan: Cuz I’ll… I mean they’ll, cry.
What To Do Afterwards:
1. Watch It Again — What else do you have to do on a late Sunday night, they usually show an encore right after the live broadcast. Stone Cold said so!
2. Wrestling Observer Live Wrap-Up — Internet wrestling guru Dave Meltzer will be hosting a one-hour post show on eyada.com from midnight to 1:00 AM. It should be a hoot. If you’re done watching the show and you’re not quite sure what to think, log on, and Meltzer will form all of your opinions for you. Convenient!
On To The Card:
1. Tazz & APA vs. Right to Censor
ZZZZZZ. Oh, mommy wake me when its over.
2. Gimmick battle royal
How can they fit so much greatness in one building? I know 80% of you recall at least three wrestlers on this list, wanna see how they’ve let themselves go?
Participants: Brother Love, The Bushwhackers, Doink the Clown, The Gobbledy Gooker, Iron Sheik, Kamala, Michael Hayes, Nikolai Volkoff, Sgt. Slaughter, Typhoon, Earthquake, Repo Man, Hillbilly Jim, Kimchee, The Goon, One Man Gang, Duke “The Dumpster” Droese, Gillberg, and Jim Cornette.
3. Test vs. Eddie Guerrero
Think of Test as a big lumbering talentless dinosaur. But Eddie has great hair.
4. Chyna vs. Ivory
Perhaps some part of Chyna’s surgically altered anatomy will dislodge itself tonight.
5. Big Show vs. Kane vs. Raven
I’ve never made a secret of my feelings for Raven, sniffle. Make me proud, boy.
6. Chris Benoit vs. Kurt Angle
If you wanna see two guys kick the living shit out of one another with incredible finesse and beauty, this is the one…
7. Chris Jericho vs. William Regal
If you wanna see two guys kick the living shit out of one another with incredible finesse and beauty, this is the one…part II. But seriously, if you’re not that into wrestling at present these two matches will CONVERT YOU. That Regal’s a legit killer.
8. Dudley Boyz vs. Hardy Boyz vs. Edge & Christian
These six men and an additional two ECW refugees (Spike Dudley, Rhino) are quite literally going to kill each other. Expect to shift uncomfortably in your chair at least 48 times, expect to drool at least twice when your mouth is left hanging open to long after a very dangerous move. Tables, ladders, chairs will be involved. Suicidal athleticism as well. VCR + Tape + This Match = Infinite Viewing Pleasure.
9. Vince McMahon vs. Shane McMahon
I don’t know if I should mention with pride or shame that the WWF is the only place where you will see a corporate CEO wrestle his son in front of an audience of millions. Some people say this will be good, I’m not one of them.
10. Triple H vs. Undertaker
Okay, so you’ve got the Undertaker, Kevorkian Death Cycle’s favorite wrestler, versus Triple H, my favorite wrestler. And guess who’s in Triple H’s corner? That’s right, fucking MOTORHEAD! They’ll be playing his theme song as he enters. Sigh! Expect Triple H to bleed and turn in a usual stellar performance.
11. Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. The Rock
The best part about this match will be watching wrestling fans’ heads quite literally explode as they have to continually decide who to cheer for. Expect a drama overload, and that’ll make it infinitely more palatable.
A Final Word:
From a drama perspective, you can’t lose. From a pure wrestling perspective, you can’t lose. From an outrageous spectacle perspective, you can’t lose. From a speed-punk thrills perspective, you can’t lose. Even the nostalgia is being served up in excess. Oh my yes, this is the one.