A Wrestling Empire State Of Mind

I fucking love New York.

In less than a week I will be sitting amongst thousands in Madison Square Garden. It’s the annual WWE Survivor Series pay-per-view and I couldn’t be any more excited. Or distracted.

There’s something almost intangible, something magnificent about pro wrestling in the Garden. It’s two of my favorite things, really. I think the only thing that could beat it is Rashida Jones in a Pink Ranger costume.

Close enough.

My aunts have several apartments in the upper west ends of Manhattan, and as a kid I’d visit them often during the winter, mainly Thanksgiving or Christmas. I’d wake up and below in the street, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons and floats were being inflated throughout the night. I felt like the luckiest kid in the world, getting to see Spider-Man before everyone else did that day.

The times I’ve spent in New York are moments I wouldn’t give back for anything. Waking up on a cold winter morning or warm sunny day, the streets bustling and the sidewalks alive with such spirit. Eating Gray’s Papaya hot dogs with my mom in Central Park, visiting the Natural History Museum every day to look at dinosaurs, spending my allowance at Midtown Comics, enjoying Christmas night at Tavern On The Green and being serenaded by Dickens-style carolers, uniting with the people after 9/11, visiting the offices of DC Comics, CollegeHumor, shopping for katanas with my bro Mario in Chinatown, visiting Will & Grace shooting locations, eating at Tad’s Steaks before seeing Wicked, meeting people from RangerBoard at Chelsea Piers and Toys R’ Us Times Square, meeting David Yost, attending the debut screening of Kevin Smith’s Red State, the New York Comic-Con, spending time with my brother in Dave & Buster’s (Okay, so there’s a D&B everywhere else, but fuck you, it’s New York)…

I could go on and on. To me, it’s the greatest city in the world. Hands down. I feel cocky about it sometimes, like the peeps from How I Met Your Mother do, but it’s true. I may be born and raised in New Jersey. But to me, New York City is home.

Only a year after I became a fan, the WWE held the 20th WrestleMania in Madison Square Garden, and the card was rather stacked, and if a little mixed. Eddie Guerrero and Kurt Angle tore the house down. Ultimo Dragon got to perform (if briefly). The Undertaker reignited a feud with Kane. The divas match kind of just happened. Goldberg and Brock Lesnar sucked. And the triple-threat match for the World Heavyweight Championship, contested by Triple H, Shawn Michaels… and Christ Benoit… was a classic for the ages.

Two men returned, however. He teamed up with his old partner to put over Evolution, arguably one of the last great stables in wrestling industry.

WrestleMania XX featured Mick Foley… The Rock.

The Rock and Mick Foley reunited to wrestle Batista, Ric Flair, and Randy Orton, who easily solidified his status as a soon-to-be main event draw in the coming months. After defeating The Rock, Randy Orton would capture the World Heavyweight Championship at SummerSlam later that year.

Unfortunately I missed the pay-per-view. Tickets sold out, and buying pay-per-views was still a foreign concept to me. But I made a vow not to miss the next show.

It’s often been said that Vince McMahon uses New York City as a measuring stick for his talent and I kind of have to buy into that theory. The very city that has Broadway and the Tribeca Film Festival, it’s hard to argue that New Yorkers know good entertainment when they see it. When a talent goes over the New York crowd, you have to take notice.

Years later the WWE held the 2008 Royal Rumble in Madison Square Garden. I couldn’t miss it. And I didn’t.

John Cena was out for several months before making his return. Regardless if you hate or like John Cena, the millisecond his music played, the New York crowd absolutely erupted.

Since then I’ve made it a point to go to every Garden show the WWE put on. Unfortunately due to circumstances, obviously I can’t go to every single one. I mean, could you? The last Garden show was a house show about a week after the Nexus debuted, and Daniel Bryan was fired. It was a good show, but it wasn’t one made up of New York moments.

The last MSG show that had semblance of a big deal was a 3-hour broadcast of WWE RAW in November 2009. The main event was a triple-threat tag-team match between D-Generation X (Triple H and Shawn Michaels), Jeri-Show (Chris Jericho and Big Show), and John Cena and The Undertaker.

But the man who stole the show that night, in my opinion, was Kofi Kingston.

The New York audience chanted “Kofi, Kofi, Kofi” the entire time. How the WWE didn’t live up to their philosophy and cash in on Kofi is beyond me. Currently he’s holding the tag team championship with Evan Bourne, and to their credit the WWE/Triple H is trying very hard to build up the division into something meaningful again, and they seem to be relying on Bourne and Kofi. Great. But does anyone else think Kofi is ready for the bigger stage? I’ve been campaigning for his push on Twitter but I tend to feel like I’m the only one.

Next week I’ll be in New York with my cousins and my friend Ari (of The Motley Experience) for Survivor Series 2011. Admittedly I think the build for the show has been week, the focus on John Cena and The Rock teaming up before they clash several months from now in Miami for WrestleMania 28. Their buildup has been a booking nightmare and it’s obvious they wanted a guaranteed payday over a meaningful show; tickets for the pay-per-view sold out in ninety minutes. Granted, the Garden is a rather small arena, but it’s still the Garden.

Nevertheless, I’m excited. I’m pumped. Even if I’m the only one amongst the majority of my peers who still watches pro wrestling,  I still can’t help but feel excited. It’s entertainment. It’s action. It’s the pageantry. The big fight feel. The greatest city, and inside the world’s most famous arena. And I get to be there, live.

I guess all I’m trying to say is…

You mad?

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One comment

  1. […] cousins to the 2011 WWE Survivor Series pay-per-view in Madison Square Garden (which I wrote about here). The topic of Zooey came up. “I don’t know what it is about her,” my cousin said […]

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