Despite all of the writing leading up to SummerSlam, the entire week left me exhausted. While SummerSlam officially consisted of driving down to Brooklyn on Sunday morning, enjoying the show, spending the night at a hotel, eating breakfast and leaving the next morning – everything before and after added to the experience and left me needing days to recover.
I’ll get into the details of the events soon (this may be part one of multiple) but let me skip ahead for a moment. Upon watching wrestling live, everyone understands that this may be predetermined but it is not fake. You cannot fake gravity. Landing on the mat hurts. These men and women woke up Sunday in a hotel, got in their workouts and meals to continue to look how they look, wrestled incredible matches, then had to do interviews, press and whatnot only to do it all over again the next day. I hurt myself because my arm laid wrong in bed and its partly responsible for my overall exhaustion. I’m not demanding anyone to be a fan of pro wrestling, but damn you have to respect them.
The journey started the night before. Or more accurately, the early morning before. My brother and I were driving down to Brooklyn from upstate New York (no further upstate, further, keep going, if you can’t see Canada you’re not far up enough) first thing Sunday morning. So we started talking about it Saturday night. Then talked about other things. Then our wives were talking. We were all sharing memories, and it was a good time. Until I looked at a clock and realized its 1 in the morning and my alarm was set for 6. Time for bed. But like kids waiting for Santa, I was too excited to sleep. Finally passed out at 2, woke up at 6, said not a chance in hell and woke up for sure at 630. My getting ready woke up my brother and by 730 we were on the road. He made fantastic time. The winds and spirits of wrestling were at our backs and with one stop for gas we traveled through New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and back into New York in record time. “Why did you leave New York to go back into New York?” Because the state is weird shaped and traffic in the City is awful, so sometimes a straight line is not the shortest route.
Then, the City. It had been 11 years since I’ve set foot in New York City. I can remember the first time I saw it coming up in the distance. Riding a Greyhound through the Lincoln Tunnel. I saw the skyline coming and thought “oh my God, its real”. This is not only the location of thousands of TV and movies I’ve watched over my lifetime. This is where Spider-Man is! I’m serious. There’s nothing more New York than Marvel Comics. I know of SoHo, Queens, Hell’s Kitchen, Brooklyn and on and on because of various super hero adventures that have taken place within. Now its in front of me. Gotham isn’t real, nor Metropolis. But the City is.
Plus, as an added bit of personal history, the first years of my life were lived in Brooklyn. Sure, I don’t have memories from infancy to toddlerhood of my time there but something deep within has always felt a bond to all five boroughs.
Now here I am with my brother, driving in, and its the most expansive skyline either of us have ever seen. Its just stunning. Its also dangerous because all we wanted to do is stare at it, but there’s also at least a thousand cars all around us who are very familiar with these roads, bridges and tunnels and have no time for our out of town crap.
“Are we in Brooklyn yet?” No we are not sir, but you will know when. In moments the Brooklyn Bridge was before us. We instantly recognized it despite never being on it before (that we remember) or it not quite looking like the old Absolut ad.
Thanks to printed out directions and a GPS we found our hotel immediately. Parked, and told the room wasn’t quite ready yet but would be in a half hour. Not a problem, there are two more members to join us. We discover that the hotel is 4-5 blocks away from the Barclay Center and my friend is taking the Q to meet us right in front of the building. A quick walk over and we were in SummerSlam land.
Nine out of ten people as far as the eye could see in wrestling shirts. People posting for pictures in front of the massive posters of the WWE Superstars. Most importantly, two shops set up right outside – on truck and one inside the Center. A word of warning to anyone attending a show, buy the show specific merchandise immediately. I waited and wish I hadn’t after they all sold out. My friend shows up, our Dad is still about an hour out (got dropped off in Manhattan, not Brooklyn) and the collective decision was made to eat somewhere that none of us have in our hometowns.
Oh Shake Shack. Oh my. Calling it “like Five Guys” does not do it justice. I’ve never wanted to climb over a counter and steal cheese before but whatever saucy spicy goodness they put on my burger has me debating driving 6 plus hours for another. I know its a chain. I know its in the middle of the biggest city in the country. But damn if it wasn’t a new delicacy to us. Despite it being all of those things it was also reasonable price, spotless, and amazing service. It was everything our hotel found lacking.
A quick walk back to the hotel and my Dad is nearby. The room is still not ready but will be “soon”. I should have realized something was amiss when the same three people were in the hotel lobby using the complimentary computers. Dad arrives, room still isn’t ready. All four of us talk in the lobby/breakfast area. Still isn’t ready. Every one of us goes up to ask about the room. “Few more minutes.” “Few more minutes.” It’s nearly 3 pm and we’re anxious to get situated and head over to the show. Finally, the room is ready.
Now, long time readers have seen pictures and video of me. I’m just over 6 foot and over 200 pounds. Take me as the average for all four of us. My Dad booked a king bed and queen size pull out couch bed. We come in to a smaller bed and a smaller couch. It’s close, but not what was booked. But, four guys who are about to make poor food decisions and will just want to collapse after the show, and this room that has a separate bed room, two bathrooms, and two TVs is looking pretty acceptable. Again though, not what was booked. So the front desk is called, they apologize, and put us in a new room that will meet all of our needs.
A smaller room with two barely queen beds, one bathroom, one TV and some of the tightest quarters I’ve ever seen. Well, that was about all it took. The original room now looks like a castle and we migrated back to where we started. Now its time to change clothes so we all look like wrestling fans then get ready for the biggest event of the summer.
This initial post is already well over 1000 words so come back later to read part 2 of the SummerSlam trip.