I had a completely guilt-free evening planned. It was going to be perfect. The wife was going to be at work. I had bought the cheapest bottle of whiskey I could find and poured it into our fancy decanter. The pizza place down the street had my pie in the oven. I was perfectly positioned to enjoy WrestleMania like every adult wrestling fan does: alone and pretending I’m only enjoying this ironically.
And then my wife threw out her back.
While sneezing. (In case you’re curious, my wife is not a ninety-years-old man)
So guess what? We’re watching WrestleMania together. And she is super pissed about it.
Let’s give out some back story before we get into this, as Renee has a little bit of history with professional wrestling, because she’s a terrific wife who enjoys spending time with her husband even though he has the interests of a fifteen-year-old nerd. It started two years ago with the Royal Rumble when we hosted a party, streamed the PPV illegally, and gambled for dollars; she had a great time, mostly due to her penchant for drinking and spending time with her friends. The actual wrestling was completely besides the point. Once the WWE Network came around, she randomly caught me shamefully watching PPVs, and her hateful fanhood culminated with a WWE house show in Savannah, GA.
Again, she enjoyed herself, mostly because she enjoys drinking, taking blurry pictures, and yelling things at people. But let me be clear. She HATES professional wrestling. HATES IT. Hates both the actual show and the fact that her husband watches it. So when you get the chance to watch four hours of the biggest wrestling show of the year (including the preshow!) with a woman who’s in a whole lot of pain, laying on the ground in front of the television, and just ate both a family size bag of Lay’s chips and two vicodins, you’ve got to do it.
5:15: Oh shit. While I was writing this intro, I checked Twitter and realized that the pre-show had started already. I scrambled to turn on the WWE Network and we jump in to see Booker T, Bunko Michelle Beadle, Tattoo Neck, and ?????? discussing Rusev–Triple H from high above the stadium when I realize that WRESTLEMANIA IS IN A STADIUM. There are a lot of dorks out there .(Hi, Varoon!)
Before we go any further, you need to know that I am a VERY casual wrestling fan. We cut the cord, so I don’t watch Raw; sometimes I’ll watch them on Hulu Plus, but mostly my wrestling fix is monthly PPVs and reading Brandon Stroud clickbait while I poop.
5:25: Are they shilling the Network on a Network stream? What’s happening? I’ve already paid my $9.99, Fake Beadle, just send it to a terrific video package about Sting.
5:26: In case you’re curious, Renee has been distracted talking to her sister, so she hadn’t realized that I put the Network on in the background. She was on hold for a second and apologized for talking while I’m trying to watch. Then she looked over and saw Randy Orton. “I’m not sorry anymore, I take back my apology.”
5:29: Why can’t WWE produce more content like their video packages? Are these on Raw? They should just put these things all over social media, and let people who used to like wrestling when they were in middle school watch them. If I saw that Triple H vs. Sting video on Twitter today, you could have gotten my $9.99. This Seth Rollins vs. Randy Orton recap video is getting me HYPE. THE VIPER STRIKES FROM ANYWHERE.
5:34: They just showed Real Michelle Beadle. THIS SEGMENT IS THE NEXUS OF THE UNIVERSE.
5:35: I am a huge dork, I wish I
was in the Children’s Hospital so I could have met Triple H and Kofi Kingston could have gone to WrestleMania All Axxess. I WANT A PICTURE WITH DOLPH ZIGGLER SO BAD, although I did meet Goldberg when I was a freshman in college and invited him to my Passover Seder. I just realized that was fifteen years ago. I’m cracking a beer.
5:38: They just showed The Million Dollar Man!
5:39: Fake Michelle just mentioned that they were streaming live on YouTube, so all the Network shilling makes more sense now. But who would watch the Pre-Show on YouTube that doesn’t have The Network? Are people on the fence and they’re basing their decisions on the two hour kickoff show? If that’s the case, does WWE think that FMB, Booker T, Tattoo Neck, and Wrestling’s Version of Carlton Banks are going to make that happen? Just make the Pre-Show all video recaps and be done with it.
5:43: Just like I said: This Undertaker recap set to Johnny Cash is AWESOME.
5:44 Renee Update: She just made a very obscure Friends FICA reference. She hasn’t noticed all the awesome wrestling yet, which is great, because all of these awesome videos are almost certainly going to be repeated before each match. I am REALLY excited for her reaction to this ridiculous Bray Wyatt-Undertaker recap.
5:48: What happens if it rains? Is there a raincheck policy? I think that wrestling, like all sports, would be SO MUCH BETTER in inclement weather.
5:49: OH SHIT AEIOO BLACK IS SINGING “AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL?” Did I get his name wrong? I most certainly did, because I don’t know who that is, and they flashed the graphic for too short of a time.
5:50: They are showing Real Michelle Beadle’s interview with Brock Lesnar in full, and the fact that The Beast is staying makes me one thousand times more excited for the main event. The fact that he only shows up every once in a while makes each appearance more meaningful and makes the championship seem more legitimate. If Pacquaio and Mayweather fought each other every Saturday, would you be excited for May 2?
5:56: Renee just recommended watching The Americans to her sister. She has only watched two episodes of The Americans. THAT IS AN UNINFORMED RECOMMENDATION, AMANDA. BE CAREFUL.
6:00: Here we go! We’ve switched over to the real pre-show, and we’re starting out with the Fatal Four Way for the Tag Team Championship. Renee starts watching for the first time, and declares that a stadium would be a terrible place to watch live wrestling. “The sun would get in your eyes!” True that.
6:05: One of The Usos goes down with what appears to be a legit injury, which is always my favorite storyline. Because people do get injured, and sometimes it happens right at the beginning of the pre-show. I am such a mark.
6:11: Cesaro does the dead lift suplex, and one of The Matadors holds Kofi in a powerbomb setup for two seconds too long. It looks like you’re blowing him, bro.
6:13: I love it when wrestlers debut new moves and the announcers say “She calls it the Rear View!” How do they know? Is Naomi in the back talking to Michael Cole, “Hey, buddy. FYI, if I run, jump, turn around in the air, split my legs and bump into someone with my butt, I’m thinking about calling it something. Jumpy-Spinny? Rubber Baby Butty Bumper? No, I’ve got it: The Rear View.” Anyway, she just ran, jumped, turned around in the air, split her legs and bumped into Natalya with her butt. She calls it the Rear View.
6:18: Big triple suplex-y spot which seemed like it would be cooler than it actually ended up being. Cesaro sneaks in to win, which is nice, because he’s the most fun guy out of the eight in the ring to watch. I’m a sucker for the European Uppercut.
6:21: Renee has not commented in twenty-five minutes. I ask her why she’s so quiet, and her response: “Now that I know you’re writing what I’m saying, it’s not organic. So I won’t say anything unless it sounds really smart.”
6:23: “This is fucking retarded is this serious?”
6:24: Renee: “He wrote a book? Who is that?” Me: “That’s Booker T!” Renee: “Didn’t realize Booker T. Washington was so stupid.”
6:25: JON GRUDEN, YOU WON A SUPER BOWL HAVE SOME RESPECT YOU DESERVE BETTER THAN BEING ON THE PRE-SHOW.
6:26: Titus O’Neill sacked Eli Manning? That’s a fun fact, Jon, I take back what I said.
6:32: Aaaaaaand my feed has gone out. Clearly WWE Network was not prepared for how many New Yorkers wanted to watch Axelmania.
6:33: The best part about Battle Royals are the opportunities for small moments like the Axelmania spot to open it up, Big Show making The New Day look like assholes, and Heath Slater challenging and subsequently getting tossed by Ryback all within the context of one match. Plus Cesaro gets to look strong by eliminating Kane and not having to win. Everyone in the Final Five could legitimately win this thing,
6:40: Nice WrestleMania moment for Ryback with the crowd chanting for him before Show eliminates him. Here’s my question: What’s the point of that? Does it make Show look strong after we’ve been watching him openly sob on television for years? When the final two are Mizdow and Show, does anyone think Show is going to win? Of course not, it’s just a question of how Mizdow manages to overcome these five-hundred pound odds.
6:46: Oh. Well, disregard what I just said.
6:47: Renee’s response to The Show winning: “Shocker, the biggest guy won the Battle Royal. I thought this was supposed to be fake.”
6:50: Renee likes Fake Michelle Beadle’s hair. My world is upside down.
7:00: Renee: “Whatever happened to SLC Punk?”
7:01: “It is packed there! Why is this such a big deal? I thought WrestleMania happens every week?”
7:03: “Wait. Did we pay for this? HOW MUCH DID YOU PAY FOR THIS?”
7:04: We just ordered Just Salad for dinner. Veggie Split Pea Soup. This is what happens when you watch WrestleMania with your wife.
7:08: Renee’s new favorite wrestler is Bad News Barrett. “Look at his body! I mean COME ON!”
7:10: Non-wrestling fans always seem to point out the things that make it unrealistic. “That guy has a terrible name. Our Truth? That’s stupid. And he shouldn’t be wearing leather pants, he’s OUTSIDE. IT IS TOO HOT OUT THERE, HE IS GOING TO GET A RASH FOR SURE.”
7:12: She just LOL’d at King’s joke about how Stardust outfit makes him look like Jennifer Lawrence.
7:16: “Hey, Michael Cole, if, by chance, I get to pull a ladder out from under the ring, and it happens to be a ladder that I spray-painted black and glued glitter on to the sides of, BE SURE YOU ANNOUNCE WHAT THE NAME OF THE LADDER IS. DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, ALLOW THAT LADDER TO GO UNNAMED.” -Stardust, backstage, immediately before not even coming close to winning the Intercontinental Championship.
7:19: Am I the only one who feels like the announcers drawing attention to R-Truth being afraid of heights is vaguely racist? No?
7:24: Well, not surprisingly, that was AWESOME. A ladder match with all of the best guys on the roster (and R-Truth) throwing themselves into metal for my amusement for twelve minutes? Sold. I’m not sure why they would end it with two guys fake headbutting each other for thirty seconds since it’s the worst looking move in wrestling, but I’ll treat this match like Lost. Just because the ending was terrible and stupid doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the way we got there. Rematch next month? Sounds good to me.
7:33: My feed keeps buffering, and it is pissing me off. Come on, WWE Network, get your shit together so I can watch dudes almost kiss.
7:37: Renee has lost all interest after that ladder match. She is currently playing Bubble Blast, her only interaction was to call Seth Rollins “Greasy Hair McGee”. Not her best nickname work.
7:38: Renee wants to know if the wrestlers wore sunblock. GREAT QUESTION. Nothing would be better than every wrestler showing up to Raw looking like extremely muscular lobsters. If this was the real Reality Era, The New Day would have a SIGNIFICANT advantage tomorrow night. TOMORROW IS YOUR NIGHT CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP.
7:47: Orton wins with a terrific RKO OUT OF NOWHERE and does an Ali-like yell at a prone Rollins. We are distracted as our salads arrive. Renee gets a Buffalo Kale Caesar Salad and Vegan Split Pea Soup. I have the Cowboy Chicken Salad. Mine is better.
7:57: Sting has an Asian drum circle before his entrance, which is overshadowed by HHH’s RIDICULOUS Terminator entrance. Hey, HHH, you’re the bad guy who we’re supposed to be booing, maybe you should let the returning superstar have The Governator introduce him.
8:07: Stings gets the hilarious “You’ve Still Got It” chant after one dropkick. Renee is not impressed “That dude is bald as shit.”
8:14: DX makes a hilariously unsuccessful run-in, and Stinger goes off the top rope, which produces a “This Is Awesome” chant. Renee: “What are they chanting? Oh My God. This is the opposite of awesome.”
8:18: “OH! That’s Hulk Hogan! THIS IS AWESOME!”
8:22: “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe they’re chanting this is awesome. What dorks!”
8:26: I am well aware that I should not be marking out so hard for all of these oldies returning, but I definitely am. If this is leading to a old-man eight-person tag at SummerSlam, I am ALL FOR IT. I just chanted Goldberg for ten minutes straight.
8:29: Holy crap these WWE Network shows look hilariously bad.
8:31: I see what they were trying to do there to lend some legitimacy to the IC Championship by having all of those former champions comment, but Bret Hart and Ric Flair look like they should be having awkward conversations with their children about their living situations and whether they feel like they need a little help taking care of themselves.
8:36: Dear WWE, if the best you can do for your musical acts are Skylar Grey, Kid Ink, and Travis Barker, just don’t roll anyone out there. I think I speak for your entire audience when I say that sucked. If you insist on having a live music break, let’s roll out an awesome nineties band. Was Papa Roach booked? Where’s Lit? If Bush sang Machinehead I would GO CRAZY.
8:42: We are having a discussion about which Diva is the hottest. Renee is shocked that I picked Paige. “But she looks so skanky! Do you like that?” That question feels like a trap.
8:49: On AJ Lee: “Well, she has a pretty good submission move. But her song is annoying, and she skips. She’s a bitch.”
8:50: More on Paige: “I can’t believe you think she’s hot. Probably just because she pretends to be a lesbian.” Thirty seconds of silence. “You’re a jerk.”
8:52: They put all the information into a supercomputer, and they were able to come up with both the heights AND the weights of Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar. AND THE SIGNATURE MOVES? Oh man, that supercomputer must have had steam coming out of it!
8:54: Arnold Schwarzenegger is in the WWE Hall Of Fame? What? When the robots in the new Terminator look like Vince McMahon, now you know why.
9:03 This Rusev–John Cena match is old-school wrestling at it’s best. The ridiculous Russian/American entrances for Rusev/Cena were SO AWESOME. If you don’t want to boo a guy waving a Russian flag ON TOP OF A TANK or cheer for a guy who was INTRODUCED BY REAGAN you probably shouldn’t be watching wrestling. Rusev demanding to be introduced first is the kind of touch that makes him a tremendous heel. I will never forgive WWE for not putting Cena in a T-Shirt with pictures of eagles on it, though. You missed your opportunity, Vince. I also would have gotten hype about a Toby Keith tank top.
9:26: So now with Cena & Bryan holding the secondary titles, Brock is a lock to retain, right? They won’t make Bryan lose every week like BNB, right? They won’t have Cena steamroll everyone in the company, right? Things are going to be different now, right?
9:39: Can’t have a WrestleMania without The Rock. I don’t care what the wrestling hipsters say, he’s the best. I’m getting super hype if the glass breaks.
9:48: Steph McMahon rules so hard right now. Her facial expressions, McMahon Voice, and snarkiness level is Perfect. “See you later, Dwayne.” I love it.
9:58: That was sadly not that good. Great start, but Rocky calling it out as the “biggest WrestleMania moment of the night” is incorrect. DID YOU NOT SEE THE FIRST OCCURRENCE OF THE REAR VIEW, ROCKY?
10:00: Cool that HHH did that cross-platform marketing for Terminator and Bray does the same for Duck Dynasty.
10:11: I couldn’t imagine being in this live crowd, they must be so tired. Between standing in the sun for four hours and having to sit through both that Ronda Rousey “moment” and twenty minutes of creepy entrances, it’s crazy that they even have the energy to chant. I anticipate a VERY quiet crowd for Reigns-Lesnar. I’m getting tired and I’ve just been sitting on my couch. Renee gave in to the Vicodin as soon as The Rock wasn’t on screen any more.
10:15: How many jobs could you only have to perform once a year for well past your prime? New Years Eve Ball Dropper?
10:25: I guess the mark of a good match is you don’t know what is going to happen, and I could honestly see a situation where both performers come out victorious. And just as I write that, Undertaker wins. Which makes total sense. Bray has absolutely nothing to lose, he’s lost clean to Big E. Langston, he’s certainly going to lose clean to The Dead Man.
10:37: Again, the mark of a good match is that you don’t know what’s going to happen, and I can’t see a situation where Brock loses. I guess I’ll be excited if Rollins cashes in, but I don’t see that happening. I guess I’ll be excited about a double turn if they decide to go full heel with Roman, but aren’t we basically already there? The ovation for Lesnar was monstrous.
10:41: HOLY SHIT LESNAR IS AWESOME I HOPE HE NEVER LOSES.
10:44: SUPLEX CITY BITCH.
10:58 Well, I guess I was wrong, because I did NOT see that coming. Aside from the announcers continuing to use the phrase “Samon Pride”, this worked really well. The match flow was terrific and made a lot of sense. Brock destroys Roman, Roman continues to kick out and refuses to give up, even smiling as he’s getting destroyed. Reigns gets a lucky break by busting open the champ, and he hits Brock with everything he’s got. No fanfare, no leaning back and screaming, no fists on the mat, just Superman Punches and Spears, and it works. Kind of. Five finishing moves and he gets two and a half. Instead of just going back to the well and jumping right on the champ, he decides he’s going to get cute and charge up his fist on the mat, and he pays the price for it. The only way to beat Lesnar is to catch a lucky break and keep killing him until he dies, and when you try to get fancy and do taunts, you get F5-ed to death. And that’s exactly what happens, and HERE COMES ROLLINS. Great job by WWE to get the belt off Lesnar without him having to lose, and I’m exciting to see what they do for Extreme Rules.
Hopefully I can watch that one by myself. In the dark. So no one knows that I like wrestling. The way you’re supposed to watch.