I took my children to a WWE house show at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn last night. They had never seen a wrestling match live or on TV but my wife is very indulgent and allowed it to happen. They started school this morning so it was a stupendous end to a wonderful summer.
My brother was at our apartment before we left and my son Reggie asked him if he ever been to see wrestling. “Once, for your fathers eighth birthday party at the Sunnyside Gardens in Queens”
Back then we saw Chief Jay Strongbow and Mil Mascaras among others in a memorable birthday for a young boy. I no longer watch wrestling but have a friend who does and have long wanted to take my kids.
A WWE house show is mind blowing on a number of levels. First and foremost, the athleticism is astounding. What these guys, and girls, do in terms of acrobatics as well as storytelling is amazing to watch. No longer an eight year old who had to search the UHF channels to find Lucha Libre on Spanish language television, I can now appreciate just how hard they work to hit/not hit each other, drive a narrative and entertain a rabid crowd who wants to do nothing more than participate.
“Yes. Yes. Yes.”
We had to explain that index fingers go up and out for “yes” and the hands mimic a safe call in baseball for “no” before the kids were off to the races chanting along with the crowd in delirious unison.
It is pretty simple story telling—the good guys (baby faces) fight the bad guys (heels) and everyone chooses sides. But the wrestlers have to maintain the energy and drive the story keeping an easily distracted audience involved. After liking all the good guys over the course of the night, Reggie chose to go with bad guy 6’ 4” Randy Orton against 5’10 Daniel Bryan. The 7’ tall Big Show was ordered to sit ringside and the match would have been disqualified if he dared to get up to help out Daniel Bryan, who we learned from the video preview, he was forced to beat up in last Mondays TV taping of WWE Raw or Smackdown, I don’t know which (It can get convoluted).
Am I a good parent? I never know the answer to that mystifying question but I know we had a great time.
Don’t watch this video unless you want to see two grown men beating the tar out of each other. That being said, they are extraordinary creatures performing a choreographed dance of violence that requires mutual respect and precision to avoid serious injury (which does happen sometimes). Many of them are doing this night in and night out. and while some of them make a good living, so many more are truly doing it for the love of the game. And somehow they don’t seem to get bruised and black and blue.