The vacation was over, the night that I spent months dreaming of turned into the next day, work beckoned. The new school year was nigh. All reasons and excuses to write about SummerSlam weeks after the event. The truth is, writing this means its over. This post is the last piece of the SummerSlam adventure and it hurts a bit. I don’t want my son to grow up too fast but I do want father son trips with him much like I was playing the role of son for this trip. Wrestling, conventions, concerts, all of it. While there’s no guarantee he will enjoy the same things I do, my fingers are crossed that over the years there will be many photos of the two of us together marking out.
Back to Brooklyn:
The four of us change our clothes at the hotel and walk to the arena. A modern arena that was beautiful and ridiculously easy to navigate. We checked out the merchandise trailer and the pop up store and I made the mistake of not buying something right away. A word of advice to anyone attending a show, buy the item when you see it because it might be gone. I wanted a shirt from the night, not a random WWE shirt. Unfortunately the one with the Brooklyn Bride and “I was there” sold out and is now over $130 on eBay. Next time. After checking every merchandise booth on every level of the arena I accepted defeat and bought a shirt that still means a lot – the Usos “Brooklyn Since Day One” t shirt. Little known fact, but the first years of my life were spent in Brooklyn. This shirt felt perfect and I feel was meant for me.
This wandering around meant I missed some of the pre show. But I made the decision that the memory of a shirt from this evening would mean more to me than the memory of one of the pre show matches. Plus, in all this running around I ran into Chad! From back in the day when there was a loose collection of geek bloggers, Chad and I discovered we write about similar things and don’t live too far away. We had a great talk about wrestling, conventions, took some pictures, and were on our merry ways. Take a look at Chad’s site over at http://www.horrormoviebbq.com/
Back to my seat and its setting in. I’m here. We’re here. The arena is huge but small. Every seat has a great view of the ring. The pre show stage is in such a great spot. My brother hit my back and I grabbed on to the back of the chair for fear I would tumble to my death. The seats are of course safe, because no major company wants that kind of lawsuit, but it is steep. As I discussed with my friend Pete, who lives in Brooklyn:
Me: “What have you heard about the arena.”
Pete: “I haven’t been there yet but I hear its steep.”
“The prices are steep, or like old Yankee Stadium steep?”
“Like old Yankee Stadium.”
He wasn’t kidding. But the longer the night went on the more comfortable we got with our angle and what was comforting was seeing the seat ushers balance and lean and screw around in the aisles. If they are that comfortable there, then I feel safe just sitting myself down.
Steep prices too though. I forget the dollar amounts now, but I spent more on food and drink than anything else that night. By two or three times more. Plus most of the stands throughout the arena were running out of basics like soda or water before the end of the night.
The countdown is on the big screen, the hype video plays and we are live for SummerSlam. My friend Matt and I, being the long time fans, are debating how the night starts. It has to be something exciting. Get the crowd pumped from the beginning. My brother and dad still aren’t quite sure what they’re in for.
“BURN IT DOWNNNN!!!!!!!!”
Holy crap. 16,000 people screaming the same thing. The explosion of sound. The entrance graphics that are now all over the arena. Seth Rollins entrance music is maybe the most hyped up song I’ve ever heard live. Play this at the Super Bowl, the World Series, on a battlefield. I can’t imagine anyone losing once they hear this ovation. Then Dolph Ziggler comes out and the two of them made every other wrestler step up their game to follow that match. Absolutely incredible with the athleticism, the psychology, the false finishes, two other warriors on the outside. It was stunning, the crowd was out of breath by the end and we weren’t even in the ring. Then I look over at my dad and I honestly thought we were about to call for an ambulance. He was out of breath, sweating, exhausted. He turns to us and in a panic asks, “and that was the first match?!” In the moment, and for the next few, I thought we were about to meet Brooklyn’s finest. Later in the night, and today with the distance of time, I know what happened. He got it. He in that moment understood the joy of professional wrestling.
My dad turns to me and says, “they should have a stock.” They do. “I’m calling my guy tomorrow.” I laughed but he was serious. “I’ve been to NFL, baseball, Final Four, concerts, everything. I have never ever seen anything with this level of production and fans and presentation and excitement. There is no where for any of this to go but up.”
Not every match hit home, but that happens to long time fans like myself as well. However, he was amazed by how Samoa Joe moved and got a kick out of his heel work with AJ’s family. He thought the Bludgeon Brothers looked like they came straight from hell. He does not by any means understand the New Day but seeing them live got such a kick out of how much they get the audience going and how much the fans motivate them right back. Dad was thrilled to be right about Braun Strowman’s fast win when us longtime wrestling fans expected a longer match. He was amazed at the work of both women’s matches. He understood the booking of Alexa Bliss as a chicken shit heel and thought it was brilliant, he was thrilled to watch Ronda win the Women’s title, he was in awe over Charlotte Flair’s god given gifts. After both women’s matches he turns to me and says:
“WrestleMania is bigger than this?”
“And they want the women to main event it?”
“Yeah. Those two could do it and the world would want to see it.”
Then the main event came and it was booked exactly how it should have been. Braun as an X factor, Roman and Brock with no building moves, no slow match psychology and build. Just big move after big move after big move. King Kong vs Godzilla should not have multiple rest holds, and neither should these two monsters.
To be fair when this match was over, we were all over. It was time to leave, cross our fingers something was open that served food, and pass out.
But it was such a surreal moment. Standing on a random street in Brooklyn, waiting for our pizza. Somewhere between 11 and midnight on a Sunday night in one of the biggest but the greatest city in the world. Few wrestling fans walking around, some couples out for the night, random people who have probably lived in Brooklyn for generations. And there we stood too. There’s a good chance that 40 years earlier I was pushed in a stroller down the same street. 40 years of life later and there we stood together like we were in a familiar small town. No worries, no fear, just a great feeling of happiness and contentment. The world around us might be big and scary but I knew if anything went down there I would have my dad’s back and he would have mine. But I knew the wrestling fans also walking around would have our backs. I knew Brooklyn would have my back.
Something about what we just watched for hours came into the real world. Though we may have other fights in a true battle this is a family and we will have each other.
Thanks to my dad, my brother, and my best friend. Thanks to WWE. Thanks to Brooklyn.