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The Prince of Passion

Warning: Apologies if this article offends anyone given the freshness of Prince's death. It's a simple light-hearted opinion meant for laughs. Thanks for reading.

The music world lost an absolute legend last week and I'm just a twenty-five-year-old who is trying to figure out the significance. Death is never easy. It doesn't matter who it comes to, there is always a layer of sympathy that surrounds them. This has been something that has really bothered me, as I've seen some very shitty people suddenly martyred and turned into a wonderful person, post-death by mourners. So I'm often met with a little bit of trepidation when someone dies, and the entire world is singing their praise. I mean, just look at Michael Jackson, who was suddenly thrust back to legend status after years of just being the "King of Pedo." So, when it comes to Prince and all the wonderful things I've heard about him in recent days, I'm left wondering if he deserves it. And I mean that in the least disrespectful way possible. I am simply saying that, as an ignorant music listener, it wouldn't feel genuine for me to sing his praises just because everyone else is.

Because, like Michael Jackson before him, I can't really say that I "get" Prince. Sure, I understand that there's a large number of people that enjoy his name and I can easily identify his signature sound even without having listened to an entire CD of his. But if someone were to ask me what makes Prince a legend, I would be completely stumped. I'm not sure of his significance outside of the "Batman" soundtrack and "Purple Rain."

So I finally decided to give Prince a listen. More specifically, I decided to finally listen to his opus "Purple Rain." To say my expectations for the album have been through the roof is a bit of an understatement. I've heard nothing but incredible things about this CD since I was a kid but never really listened to it fully. Now that I have I must say... I sorta get it?

The type of music that Prince makes isn't really in line with my own musical tastes but there are moments where I was able to get lost in it. So trying to look at it from the perspective of someone that loves poppy music, I can see the appeal in his hooks and his voice is unlike anything I've ever heard before (in terms of it being unique, I wouldn't exactly call it powerful) but only one thing really cut through in its message: This album was meant to be your own personal sex soundtrack.

I'd always heard people refer to Prince as "pure sex" but I didn't really get it. He just looked like a very feminine guy who would sometimes hump his guitar. That was all I really got from his outward image without having listened to his music (apart of "Batman", of course). I didn't realize that 90% of my friends had likely been conceived to music by Prince.

Which is finally what made me "get" Prince. The connection that all of these people have with the man and his music is something so deep because it's often so associated with sex. Any of my friends over the age of 30 hold Prince in such high regard, while those under never really seem to care/know of his music. The connection with Prince isn't just a connection with some flamboyant guy who liked to dress in extravagant outfits, it's a connection with the first time they had sex in the back of their Buick Skylark. The part in Purple Rain where they remember their parents opening the door to the basement and having to put their clothes back on as quickly as possible. The virginity that they could just never seem to lose until the accompaniment by Prince finally brought all of the pieces together.

The music is one thing, but the connection that it has with our own personal events is what makes it live on forever. Prince is  fortunate to have his music be associated with some of the best times of a person's life: in the midst of throes of passion. While the time may have passed for my own deep connection with Prince's music, I can still appreciate the fact that many of my friends wouldn't be around if it weren't for his "sex in a CD" approach.

Thanks for all the unplanned pregnancies, Prince.

Vested Interest in Fighting

If you've been following around these parts recently then you are aware that I'm taking a break from WWE. I already went over the reasons, so I won't repeat that, but the lack of WWE in my life has freed up some hobby time. I mean, I went from watching Raw and Smackdown every week, plus a PPV every month, to absolutely nothing. So what on earth have I been doing to fill the time? Well, I am just so glad that you, random internet person, asked me that great question.

Since my interest in the current product of ROH is also pretty low (I really only enjoy it when they do the NJPW cross promotions), I've been going back and watching some of their older stuff. That means that old Samoa Joe, CM Punk, and Bryan Danielson matches have become the norm for me. It's been great to see the how much their product has changed over the years, as it has definitely veered more in the direction of WWE's product recently. This is more of what I always saw the Indies as when I was getting back into wrestling in 2010.

While NJPW has been great, there is a little bit of a disconnect with how the content is delivered to me. See, watching the NJPW PPV's is as easy as going to Daily Motion and finding a video. But that's just the PPV's. Getting caught up with anything else is nearly impossible. Unfortunately the TV Show that runs on AXS is nearly a year behind and those are simply cut up PPV's, set to a television format. Which means that while I'm watching Kenny Omega defend the IWGP Intercontinental Title online, I'm also seeing Shinsuke Nakamura (current NXT Superstar) defending it on Television. Can you see my frustrations?

Thankfully, when it comes to televised wrestling, Lucha Underground has got me covered. If you're a fan of wrestling and not watching the product, please change that immediately because you're missing out on some of the best stuff I've seen in years. Prince Puma (Ricochet from NJPW/ROH) and Anjelico are two people I can't wait to see on a bigger level because they are among the top performers in the world.

And I mean, NXT is ALWAYS awesome.

But there's actually been something that's got me hooked in recent months that isn't even professional wrestling. *cue audible gasp!* I know, it is rather shocking but I do actually have interests that go outside of wrestling and horror movies (although if you looked at this site, it'd be hard to say otherwise). This does fall under the same umbrella as wrestling, and were even seen as competitors for a while. I am, of course, talking about UFC.

Ever since Ronda Rousey lost her first bout (my first real experience with a UFC PPV) I've been hooked. I believe that since November, Marc and I have only missed out on one PPV. As someone that, prior to the Rousey fight, had shunned off UFC and even said afterwards that I'd not be watching another MMA PPV again, I can't tell you enough how much this recent interest in the sport has gone against what were my ways for many years. But in a time where WWE just isn't clicking with me, I need an obsession elsewhere. Enter Conor McGregor...

Based on my love for Ronda Rousey, it's no surprise that I'm also a big fan of Conor McGregor. I love fighters that can talk crap and back it up. I don't need to see two people are are very respectable and just want to get the W. No, I want to see someone that hates the person standing across from them in the octagon and wants to tear their head off. Why? I believe it's due to the fact that, with my love for wrestling, I love seeing actual heat between two foes. I love knowing that the person who is overly emotional has a distinct disadvantage as they get away from the basics of MMA and play right into their opponents head.

Head games are a complete shoot.

No matter how many times I've seen it happen, it never ceases to amaze me how Conor and Ronda can both completely psych out their opponents prior to their fights. The only fights I've seen from the both of them, where they let their emotions get the best of them, they lost the fight. This is a great lesson to take, because so often we are guided by pure emotion and don't let our intelligence take over in intense situations.

Unlike with wrestling, I never watch UFC and have a desire to get into the octagon. That is just a non-existent aspect for me. So I'm able to watch the fights, much like I do wrestling: I look at how disciplined they are, if they have a specific submission they rely on, and if they play any head games with their opponent. I find it all fascinating and am glad that I was able to get away from the "tapout/redneck" stereotype that has followed it around (which is hilarious given the perception that professional wrestling has to outsiders. How hypocritical of me).

I guess that the whole point of this post is to say that I like fighting. Whether it's staged in a squared circle or completely real in an octagon, I get a kick out of it. I blame my childhood of growing up on the Rocky movies, Power Rangers, and Stone Cold Steve Austin stunning Jabroni's (mixed reference there).

I'm gonna be single for a while...

Random Thoughts for April 2016

"The Hateful Eight" just gets better and better. I enjoyed the movie the first time that I saw it, but I was a little disappointed that it didn't leave me as stimulated as a QT film usually does. Was he losing he touch? Those fears were put aside with another viewing (this time on pristine BluRay) where I was really able to appreciate the nuances. While Tarantino works away from his usual style, the DNA is still the same, and the storytelling still shines through in a way that only a Quentin film could.

What's happening to the horror genre? The Saw franchise gave us a brief resurgence, and there's been rare gems peppered in amongst the dreck (The Witch, Insidious, The Conjuring). But why is there no trend right now? There's always a trend in horror, and while James Wan was trying to bring back the "Haunted House" flick, interest has slowly died. There's just no franchise worth latching onto these days. So why aren't some of the old classics being looked at? Why is it so difficult for them to get a Friday the 13th/Halloween/Nightmare on Elm Street going? Good horror oriented movie experiences are fairly essential parts of adolescence in my circles, so I feel bad for this younger generation that isn't being given anything.

WWE and I are on a break. If you've been following my latest posts, you've seen how disappointed I am with the product and I feel as though my only course of action in an effort to air my grievances is to just stop watching. I've done this in spurts before, but usually I'm drawn back in by the art of wrestling. But there are just too many other options now to continually sit through the nonsense that is prevalent on Monday Night Raw. So, until WWE gets their shit together, I'll be tuning into NJPW, ROH, and NXT.

"Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" has been disappointing. I was a really big fan of the first season (I even finished it in about a day) but I can't seem to attach to see follow-up. While it's essentially the same show, there's something missing that I can't quite put my finger on. I'm still only a few episodes in but it's felt off the whole time. There's still plenty of time to recover, but I'm not holding out too much hope.

I've been watching old ROH shows with Bryan Danielson and CM Punk. Since I quit the Main Roster product, I had to get my fix elsewhere, so I decided to go back to some of the work that I missed or glossed over. While I had seen some matches on youtube back in college, I didn't watch them with the same level of study. Seeing them now, it's truly remarkable what they were doing to the world of wrestling. They were always going to make an impact on the industry in a big way.

Still no editor for "The Crimson Summer." I figured I would be able to find one by this point but everyone that I have talked to about potentially doing it, hasn't worked out. I have a plan in motion to get it done, but it won't be the personal touch that I was wanting for my first published book. Either way, I'm now looking at May for a release (with a trailer coming that will have the actual release date announcement).

I have some interesting plans for this summer. And by interesting, I mean: could be a total and complete waste of time but I think it will be positive for a variety of reasons. That being said, I will be loading my Kindle up with some old scripts and short stories and reading through them, seeing if anything is salvageable, even if it's just a line of dialogue or two. I think it'll also help me to grow as a writer by seeing where I came from since most of the writing will be from 10+ years ago.

The 2016 NFL season is shaping up to be incredible. As a Patriots fan, I can't believe some of the great moves we made this offseason (Martellus Bennett is going to be a deadly combo with Gronk) and how different the landscape of the NFL looks. Many key players have switched teams, with even more retiring (Calvin Johnson, you will be missed), and all big defenses have been stripped of key players. To say that this season is completely wide open is an understatement. There are predictions for the Raiders in the Superbowl and you know what? It may just happen.

Almost cancelled my Apple Music subscription then it saved itself. While I really enjoyed the fact that for only $9.99 a month--I have access to my entire music library without having to store them on my tiny 16gb iPhone, therefore allowing me to allocate the space for something else--my lack of listening to music was starting to make it pointless. Then I realized I hadn't listened to any new albums in 2016 and that I had the ultimate tool at my disposal. So I listened to six new releases all the way through, making the monthly subscription well worth it.

Crimson Woes

Here we go, folks. I have some good news and some very bad news all concerning that little book of mine, "The Crimson Summer."

First, the bad news. I lost my editor. He was supposed to turn in an edited manuscript by April 11th and, after three messages unanswered and three days passed, he responded and told me who couldn't get it to me by the deadline. Then he told me I would need to get a new editor. Yes, you read that correctly. After months of working with this guy, I am just now finding out at the last minute that he cannot do the job that I hired him for.

I'm still recovering from the news. Seeing as the book has been out of my hands for some time now (I handed it over in early March), I hadn't even comprehended the idea of the next step not being completed on time. I knew that I may have to deal with a flexible deadline or two, but that eventually the novel would get back to me, all squeaky clean.

Unfortunately things between the editor and I turned ugly as he tried turning it around on me, telling me that I didn't give him enough time and that I needed at least a couple months of work (this is after he ignored my messages for days). This is also after he already told me he could do it by the deadline, no problem. Not to mention the fact that I delayed the project, twice, in order to give him enough time to edit it. All that he would have had to do was tell me he couldn't have done it, I would have hired someone else, and the book would have been released in late March as originally intended.

But now, and here is where we get into the bad news that I'm sure you've already guessed by this point: the book will be delayed yet again. I sincerely apologize and really wish that there was some other way but unfortunately there is not. The book is out of my hands in terms of what I can do with it creatively, and I am therefore dependent on someone to proofread and make sure it's good enough for publication. And unfortunately my last editor did not leave me with enough time to hire a new guy and still hit my release date. So as much as I'd like to say "I'll just put in more time and get this released on time" that is simply not possible.

As you can imagine, I am extremely frustrated. I've not been let down this drastically in a very long time and it sucks. I tried pulling together a good team, will similar sensibilities, that I thought would be reliable and it ended up biting me in the ass.

Fortunately, my efforts weren't entirely in vain as a key part of that team, Alvaro De Cossio, has done an incredible job with the art for the book and this is finally where the good news comes into play: here is a sneak peak at the actual book cover!

Artwork by Alvaro De Cossio

Can you believe it? No matter how stressed this situation has made me, this art always puts a smile on my face. Because it reminds me that no matter what obstacles come my way, the book is on its way. Again, I sincerely apologize for the delay, and never intended to be one of those "Oh yeah I have a book coming out... sometime" type of people. In fact, I even avoided announcing the release date until I thought everything was crystal clear, because I didn't want to have to delay it again. Unfortunately, not everyone cares about this as much as I do (even when they're being paid to) and it didn't work out how I planned. Regardless, the mystery of Camp Watanka will be revealed to you lovely readers this Spring, so keep an eye out.

Thank you for being patient.

Takeover outshines Mania

When it comes to professional wrestling, there is absolutely nothing bigger than Wrestlemania. It is the biggest event in all of sports entertainment, and provides for some of the biggest moments of the year. No matter how poor the card looks, it almost always delivers. The last two years we've been treated to absolutely fantastic events, front start to finish. Yes-lemania at 30 may have been the greatest story that's ever unfolded on the grandest stage of them all and last year provided for more stellar moments than I care to count (Rollins cashing in being the big standout). When it came to quality matches, you always knew that Wrestlemania would have some of the best around. It was expected. Everything was compared to Mania.

But now that has changed. NXT has come along and completely changed the game. Last year in San Jose, going into their big Friday night show, there was a question of "Will it be as good as Mania?" That has very quickly changed. No, now we're asking "Will it be as good as Takeover?" And the answer to that, after the end of a very tumultuous Wrestlemania 32 weekend, was decidedly no.

NXT Takover: Dallas is one of the better wrestling events in recent memory.

Nakamura v. Zayn was absolutely life changing. This is now my go-to match to show people that aren't into professional wrestling. It is so good that it can intrigue even the most skeptical of people because none of it feels choreographed. It all feels natural and called in the ring, which is precisely what Nakamura brings to the table. He brings something fresh, something that we've never seen before, and does it with more charisma than anyone that WWE has ever seen, past or present.

I can honestly say that this is the most disappointed I've ever been in a Wrestlemania. Usually I'm at least having fun with the show but with this one, the one prevailing thought was "Why are they doing this?" Why is New Day, the most over Tag Team (and champions) in the WWE, losing to a put-together, won't be here in two months, group of Superstars? Why is Zack Ryder, someone who wasn't even supposed to be in the match and hasn't had any build, winning the IC title that has been carefully built for six months? And most importantly, why is WWE ignoring the fans and having Roman Reigns win the title, muting the entire audience as Mania goes off the air as the stadium boos?

Because Vince McMahon is stubborn.

And that's why WWE will never fully succeed while he's around. He thinks he knows better than all the fans watching product, and thinks he knows who needs pushed, audience be damned. Many people stated prior to Mania (including Jim Ross) that if Roman goes over clean at Mania, with no turn, then Vince is out of touch. Well that is precisely what happened, to a chorus of boos, NXT chants, and general disdain. Hell, Vince repeatedly flexed his muscle, putting Jericho over Styles (in one of the most baffling booking decisions on an already confusing card) in his usual "WWE is better than any other wrestling company and you better remember that" bullshit. Then he did the unthinkable.

See, the Raw after Wrestlemania is often known as the best Raw of the year. It's always exciting and the crowd is often the most fun part of it all. Well, this year they decided to state throughout this year's broadcast, that this crowd was a weird one. That they cheer the people they usually boo and book the people they usually cheer AKA they're trying to explain why the crowd is booing Roman Reigns and they're making an excuse for it. They're marginalizing all of the fans that make their voices heard just because it doesn't go with the status quo.

These are all part of the reason why I can't stomach the product anymore and, for the first time in 6 years, will be cutting it out. Now, I'm still a giant wrestling fan so I'll still be catching NXT, Lucha Underground, and NJPW as much as possible but when it comes to WWE Main Roster, I'm taking a break. The product as a whole doesn't satisfy me and I'm sick of backing something that I don't even like. I hope that the quality will improve and that things will get better enough for me to come back but for now...

Thanks for the memories.

Wrestlemania: A Fan's Journey

The Main Event
Wrestlemania. If you're a fan of professional wrestling (sorry Vince, "Sports Entertainment") then there is nothing quite like the mecca known as 'Mania. It is the absolute tip top when it comes to the wrestling world and is something you have to go to if you have any love for the squared circle. It is our Mecca. And with Wrestlemania 32 only two days away, the excitement is building. But as I sit here, wondering which match I should watch to get me excited for the festivities this weekend, a thought comes over me: why not just relive last year. See, I was able to attend Wrestlemania 31.

But to really understand just how important that fact is, I need to go into a little bit of history. Now, this is the part where I get a bit into my personal history with wrestling, so if you're just wanting to see things on Mania 31, then scroll down to the Ronda Rousey pic.

written prior to leaving for California in March 2015. I really wanted to capture my excitement for the event and had plans to do the article for "Wolf in a Gorilla Suit." Due to the lack of interest in wrestling on the site, I pulled the article and never published it anywhere. Here it is.

Looks further than it was.

The Journey

To say I'm excited is a little bit of an understatement. I suppose I should give a little history lesson to catch you up. As a child, I was obsessed with the World Wrestling Federation. There was no such thing as World Championship Wrestling in my life and that's the way I liked it. While this may have been mostly due to the fact that my older brother, Marc, was into WWF, I took it and ran with it. We would rent tapes from Hollywood Video and watch them to no end. I can specifically remember the Royal Rumble tapes and the Hell in a Cell tape. That's right, I got to watch Michaels/Taker in the HIAC when my age hadn't even hit double digits. I can only imagine how I reacted back when I thought wrestling was still completely real. "Shawn Michaels NOOooooo!"

We were just kids though, so that meant that we weren't going to be watching Pay-Per-Views. Sure, our parents put up with our wrestling watching, but neither were huge fans themselves. In fact, our dad hated the sport (and even unfollwed me on twitter during this article's Wrestlemania festivities). So good luck getting them to drop $30 on a PPV once a month. No, we were going to be relegated to VHS tapes and the occasional Raw. And of course our awesome toys, that we'd put on matches with for hours upon hours.

Then we grew up and the Attitude Era was in full swing. At this point we were watching most Monday Night Raw's and loving it. We were able to see the Austin beer bath, Mankind's title win, and so many stunner's to McMahon we lost count. And we saw them all right when they happened. I'm grateful to have even been able to see those moments. I couldn't even fathom actually being at one of these events. Especially during that Era. We went through video game after video game, loving No Mercy all the way to Wrestlemania 2000 (that's a joke, they're practically the same game).

"The Boss" is not impressed.
Then as many kids do when they start growing up, our interests changed, and we stopped watching wrestling. I would see it every now and then but I didn't know much about it. Marc got back into the product around '06 and stayed through past Wrestlemania 23, which he was able to attend. I couldn't have cared less though. Wrestling was stupid and fake and I'd have no part in it. Hell, even a girl I was involved with my junior year liked wrestling (okay, I think she may have just been obsessed with John Cena), which turned me off from her completely. Wrestling just wasn't for me anymore. Then Marc got me a video game.

I remember receiving Smackdown vs Raw 2007 and being a little excited. I hadn't played a wrestling game in ages and it was kind of mine and Marc's "thing." I proceeded to play it and be absolutely terrible so I quickly stopped and let Marc have at it, getting all the achievements he could. Then I just kind of forgot about it. I wasn't that much into wrestling anymore, and knew none of my friends back home would play it with me.

I figured it would just sit my shelf and gather dust but over the years I would casually play it--usually just in order to break up the monotony of all the Halo and NCAA Football that I was playing at the time. But I'd still play it and have fun. I knew several of the wrestlers because they were around when I actually did watch, and John Cena had permeated pop culture enough that I knew of him.

Cut to late 2009.

I was a freshman in college and actually had my dorm room to myself for once. Since most of my freshman year consisted of drinking as much cheap vodka and/or beer as possible, I wanted to take it easy. So, wandering Youtube, trying to figure out what to watch (this was right before Netflix Instant turned into the powerhouse it is today) I decided to look up some of my favorite wrestling matches. I started with all the Hardy's TLC matches, a favorite from my childhood. Then moved onto the first Hell in a Cell, eventually landing on the Michaels/Hart Iron Man match. There was no turning back. I read the wikipedia entries for every Wrestler I knew, from start to finish. I felt like I had just watched 20+ years of wrestling in just a weekend and was beaming with knowledge. Oh how naive.

This started the beginning of my foray back into the world of sports entertainment. I did some research and found out Smackdown usually had more wrestling, so I sought out the last few episodes online. That John Morrison sure looks and acts like a young Shawn Michaels. Undertaker is still around and he's the champ? Awesome. Who was this CM Punk and why was he acting like Jesus? I wanted more.

HHH's Mania 30 gear.
I watched Raw and couldn't believe how many people I recognized. And hell, Bret Hart was returning to Raw the next week! He was such a hero for me growing up (probably due to the fact that he would put his glasses on a lucky kid during his entrance). This couldn't get much better. Oh how silly I was. See, this is not a period of time that many wrestling fans would consider "good." We were deep into the reign of Cena with no end in sight, and the product was often silly and unwatchable. Seriously, watch those "Guest Host" segments from Raw and try not to cringe. The talent was there but not being properly utilized. CM Punk was in his Straight Edge Gimmick getting more heat than I thought possible, yet he kept being booked poorly. Ziggler was a great seller and worker who kept being relegated to the whimpy heel role. His association with Vickie soon became more of a burden than anything. Still, something about it hooked me and I tuned in every week.

And that's how it went for several years. No one in my life was an active wrestling fan (Marc had lost interest in 07) so I had no one to talk about it to. I had a girlfriend that thought it was a huge negative that I even liked something "so silly", and several friends that would lightly make fun of me for even watching. But I didn't just watch. I watched EVERY Raw and EVERY PPV. It was my passion. I wouldn't listen to the people that berated me for watching it. Hell, if I did, maybe it would have been enough to convince me what I was watching wasn't good. But that didn't matter to me. I just loved wrestling. And that's my response whenever someone goes "If I had gotten back into it then, I doubt I would have stuck with it." I just love wrestling. Whether it's good or bad, I just love the storytelling, classic good v. evil dynamics, and athletic display. I latched onto wrestlers like Punk, Ziggler, and a little later Bryan because of that. And they're my favorite wrestler's working because of it too.

Eventually I was able to attend a Raw taping in Indianapolis. But this wasn't just any Raw taping; they were taping two Raws in one night. So much wrestling. This is the last time they've done this (to my knowledge) so it felt pretty unique for WWE. This was back before they had switched to 3 hours but the product hadn't quite recovered. It was also Jericho's last night in the company for some time. I got pretty lucky in that regard. I was also lucky enough to convince two friends to come with. They enjoyed the spectacle but they didn't really care about wrestling. I was just grateful I could get anyone to go with me, plus they were good friends of mine. Still, it was clear that they weren't really fans and it was a lot of work to even get them to go. Those wrestling fans out there that don't have fellow fans for friends know just how hard it can be to get someone to go to a wrestling show. So I didn't go to anymore WWE shows during college as a result.

Then I graduated college and had planned to move to New Orleans to work in film and television. Lucky for me, Wrestlemania 30 was also taking place in New Orleans just eight months later. The world was aligning just for me to finally go to a WWE PPV. And not only that, but go to the biggest PPV in the companies history. Needless to say, I was excited. Then I shortly realized that being in New Orleans, that meant I had to STAY in New Orleans. That just wasn't gonna happen.

See I've never hated a place more than Louisiana. I hated the drive down, entering what felt like another world. I hated everything I was missing out on by being there. I hated the people that constantly told me how it was okay to drive drunk. I hated the grime that seemed to cover every surface of the city. I hated the industry that I was suddenly trying to work my way up a chain, that seemed less appealing at all rungs. I hated everything about Nola. So I left.

Taker's burned casket from Mania 30.
I always considered moving back in with my parents post-college to be a huge failure. Long before I even graduated I made the decision that I wouldn't be doing that no matter what. Step in Marc, who offered me a place to stay in Colorado and probably saved my life in the process. It was exactly the offer I needed at precisely the time I needed it. So I moved in and with it came my huge obsession with wrestling. Something that Marc had also been obsessed with in the past. This was great news... to everyone except Marc's wrestling hating girlfriend.

Needless to say, after the two broke up and the house was just one big bachelor pad, the wrestling started flowing, and flowing hard. Then the WWE Network was released and our wrestling knowledge reached all new heights. Every PPV in the companies history was now at our fingertips and we took advantage. Both of us caught up on the era's that we had missed out on -- 2003-2009 for me, and 2008-2014 for Marc. With that, we were covering pretty much all the the current crop of superstars.

Now, for those that made it through that, I thank you. It may have been long-winded but the simple message to take from that is that this journey to Wrestlemania hasn't just been for the length of this "Road to Wrestlemania", it's been a half-decade long journey to get to the Grandest Stage of Them All. To arrive at the wrestling fan's Mecca. Well guess what, fans.

We've arrived. Let's go to Wrestlemania 31 weekend in San Jose, California...

Looking super awkward with The Hardy Boyz

WrestleCon and Axess

We got into the Bay Area on Friday and while our Wrestlemania Axxess tickets weren't until Saturday, we did have Friday tickets for Wrestlecon that had pretty much every wrestler we grew up on being featured. From Ric Flair to Mick Foley, all the way to Brutus the Barber Beefcake, our childhood seemed to be featured prominently. So it didn't matter that we weren't going full WWE yet, we had awesome things to do. Or so we thought.

While we were able to meet several wrestler's, the experience soured me on Wrestling conventions. The ticket to get in was -- just that -- access to the event. You're going to have to (awkwardly) pay the wrestler X amount for them to make small talk for two seconds then take a quick picture. Not the most fun when some pictures were running $50. The event, mind you, is being held in a shitty hotel a couple miles away from Mania. I can't say I'll ever be attending one again.

Meeting the Dudleys was awesome since Marc was able to get a pic with them shortly before Bubba took off. They were nice and we even got acknowledgment of the picture he retweeted. Then we had to meet the other tag team from our childhood: The Hardys. We went into it thinking it'd be disappointing but it was great. Matt was extremely personable and talked with us for a little bit. He even told Jeff that he needed to see Finn Balor's entrance (I was wearing a Balor tee). He also lit up seeing Marc's KO shirt since they are apparently friends with him. Jeff was… well what do you expect? He rarely smiled and didn't seem like he wanted to be there. Still, Matt was awesome enough to make up for it.

Then to the most disappointing of the night. Mick Foley. He was signing with his daughter Noelle and while I figured he'd be really nice and outgoing, it just felt like all business. I told him I loved his "What the Fuck with Marc Maron" episode which didn't get much of a response. His daughter just kind of sat there, signing autographs for the pure fact that she's a wrestling legends daughter. I was there for wrestling, so I declined the autograph from her.

Samoa Joe is the fucking MAN.
Carlito, Hurricane Helms and Samoa Joe were the others we met, but they were nothing but awesome. We even saw Carlito with Chris Masters later and I was able to tell him that "David Otunga is God" (go to his Twitter if you want in on the joke). And I had a moment walking into the hotel with Lita on her phone right next to me, clearly talking to Trish Stratus on the phone, figuring out where they could meet up. Honestly it was one of the most surreal moments of my life. If only more moments like that happened and less Mick Foley interactions, then maybe it would have been salvaged. Wrestlecon just felt like a huge rip off. You're paying extra for something that you can get for free at Axxess. Speaking of which...

Saturday was all Axxess, all day. Marc had a VIP ticket for Bray Wyatt while I had one for Seth Rollins. They didn't overlap so we didn't spend much time at Axxess together. That's okay though because there's just so much to do! If there's a non-VIP superstar signing, you just had to wait in line. Sure, sometimes people would be swapped out before you got to them but outside of tickets for entry, it was over. You just had to wait. That was something I could certainly do.

Marc and Bray "BO-LIEVE"
When it came to meeting Seth Rollins, I knew I was gonna do it right. Session 3 had two VIP superstar signings: Ambrose followed by Rollins. So I had two hours to wait for Seth. What better way to wait then to wait in line. At the front. Yes, that's right, I was the first person to meet him during his signings. To say that I was excited is a bit of an understatement. I was practically jumping out of my seat. The two hours of waiting flew by as I watched the NXT show (with much less talent around due to Hall of Fame taking place concurrently) and talked to a local Californian about the spectacle of Wrestlemania weekend.

Funny, before I got to Mania, there was a debate as to whether I'd see Rollins or Ambrose for the VIP signing. I love both wrestlers but, given that Seth had the Money in the Bank and was prime to cash in any day now, I figured he would be the safest bet. Boy am I glad I made that decision. While waiting in line for Rollins, I got to watch as Dean took part in his signing, an experience that had to be similar to torture if you were to ask him. Yeah, it really appeared that bad. He just did not seem like he wanted to be there and was mostly quiet and disinterested. Not exactly something I'd want to happen given the hefty price for the signing in the first place.

I'm beyond pumped here.
Meeting Rollins took all of thirty seconds but it was great. I was able to tell him that he was the legitimate future of the company and that the Pheonix Splash was one of my favorite moves ever. He thanked me and seemed pretty genuine, an advantage of being first. Speaking of which, I'm not first at anything. I walk up to lines and go "Wow, those people up front must have some real dedication." That was finally me. And honestly, it didn't take much work at all. I sat and watched the NXT Axxess show while I waited, and chatted with wrestling fans about the big event. I couldn't have had more fun waiting in line. I don't think I've ever uttered that sentence any other time in my life. Wow.

While I can't imagine ever going to another WrestleCon again (I don't really feel like paying to be really depressed for a couple hours), I'm counting down the days until I can go back to Axxess. It's everything a wrestling fan could hope for, providing for plenty of opportunities to meet the superstars and see more legendary gear than one could hope to see in one's lifetime.

This man spilled his beer on the camp. Idiot.

Wrestlemania XXXI

Waking up Wrestlemania morning is a lot like waking up on Christmas morning as a child -- you're excited, you can't wait for it to start, yet you never want it to end. But it all does and it's an absolute whirlwind. With the event taking place in California, and Mania having an hour earlier start time than usual, plus the two hours of pre-show, meant that this was an all day affair. Seven hours of wrestling, out in the hot California sun. I couldn't wait.

Waiting in line outside of Levi's gave us a little taste of what to expect inside. Chants were loud, although brief. And it was hot. Damn hot. But we were finally here. It was no longer just Axxess, where everyone was talking in the future tense, saying what they WILL do on Sunday. No, we were finally here to see the Grandest Stage of Them All. The Wrestlemania banners were out in full force, and we were mere hours from witnessing the show of shows. It's been a year since this day, yet it remains in my head, vividly.

Tyson Kidd and Cesaro.
Wrestlemania itself was unlike anything I've ever experienced. Wrestling fans can be dicks though. Some idiot was repeatedly yelling during the Taker/Wyatt about Taker being too old to wrestle. He was clearly the only person around that felt that way, but he had to make his thoughts known on it. This wasn't met with the greatest response from my brother and I, two actual wrestling fans that view Taker as the greatest of all time. So there was a brief moment where I thought we'd end up getting into a fight with this asshat that wouldn't stop hampering everyone else's good time. But then the finish of the match came, and everyone was able to move on. The hype for the Main Event was already at its max.

Most of the people I met in San Jose didn't want Reigns to win the title and wanted anything but that to happen. That is literally what every person I talked to about Reigns said to me. This is insane to me, since Roman is the top babyface, and therefore should be getting some positive encouragement at the biggest show of the year. But no, everyone wanted him to lose and they wanted to see Lesnar absolutely destroy him in the process. Which is why the ending of Mania is one of my favorite wrestling moments of all time.

When Seth Rollins' music hit towards the end, Marc and I freaked out. We were jumping up and down in our seats, absolutely going nuts. I even gave Marc a look of "They better not be just bringing him down here so that he can lose clean to Roman" to which he agreed. And then it happened. Reigns speared Lesnar out of the ring, dropping Rollins out of the F-5 and allowing him to his Roman with the curbstomp for the 1-2-3. That three count and following celebration is one of the happiest moments of my life, I kid you not. Marc and I were running all around, freaking out with the seventy thousand other people, still in disbelief that they had just pulled off one of the greatest Wrestlemania's of all time.

Mania 32 set.

So to Summarize...

Attending Wrestlemania 31 was an experience unlike any other. It was the culmination of many years of anticipation and that momentum carried me forward into one of the best weekend's of my life. Getting to be a part of that spectacle was incredible. Seeing all the highlight packages in the following year, all featuring the Mania that we were at, is something that I won't soon forget.

I originally intended for this article to end in a leadup to Wrestlemania 32, as Marc and I planned on going to Dallas for it. But with the terrible build, and the lack of desire in seeing Reigns in yet another Wrestlemania Main Event without Seth Rollins nearby to save the day, we decided against going. But given that I already had a pretty large article written, with plans to release on Mania weekend, I didn't really want to see the material go to waste.

I hope you enjoyed going through my wrestling journey. Hopefully this will give you a little bit of insight into why it's so important to me and to wrestling fans in general. This is our Mecca and the event we look forward to throughout the entire year. Once the Monday after Mania rolls around, the anticipation for next year's Mania ramps up along with it. Especially since, you know, Wrestlemania 33 is in Orlando and a certain brotherly duo will be attending.

Can't wait.

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