Ladies and gentlemen of the Tri-parish area, I have a huge announcement to make.
Wrestlemania is coming to New Orleans.
I repeat: WrestleMania is coming to the Big Easy.
OK, OK, I realize that for most of you, this announcement will go into one ear and out the other.
But for geeks like me who love sports entertainment, join me in celebration by repeating the following words: It’s about fricken’ time!
For as long as I can remember, wrestling has been a part of my life.
I grew up during Hulk Hogan’s era of dominance – a time where every child my age swore by the red and yellow-clad monster with 24-inch biceps.
I remember my first flirtations with the sport. The year was 1991 and any historian knows our country was embroiled in the first Gulf War.
During that time, WWF took advantage of the conflict to boost its rating. They did so by turning longtime fan-favorite Sgt. Slaughter into a turncoat – a supporter of the Iraqis in battle.
Slaughter spoke Arabic during his run as a heel (a wrestling word for bad guy) and was accompanied by “Iraqi leadership” like General Adnan and Colonel Mustafa.
It was later reported that Slaughter received so much hatred for his character that he had to be provided 24/7 surveillance by WWF and wear a bulletproof vest in public.
I remember watching WrestleMania VII’s main event between Hogan and Slaughter – living and dying by every punch thrown.
At the time, I was 4-years-old. I didn’t realize that the stuff was staged yet.
Imagine my fear. On one hand was Hogan – the American icon who preached prayers, vitamins, pride and hard work. On the other was Slaughter, who represented everything evil in my toddler world at that time.
I was living the match like I was in a fight myself – I remember wanting to cry when Hogan got hit. I remember cheering when Slaughter lost the upper hand.
I truly thought I was somehow, some way willing Hogan to a victory for America.
Once exposed to the sport for the first time, it never left my blood and I was truly in love.
As Hogan graduated to WCW, guys like Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart and Scott Hall became my new heroes.
Over time, those guys got older and I progressed from childhood to adolescence with big-time names like The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Triple H and Mick Foley.
As I got older, I obviously learned the big secret and understood that the sport was staged.
But it didn’t matter to me – it still doesn’t matter to me today.
Today, I still watch every Monday and I idolize today’s best like Dolph Ziggler, John Cena, CM Punk, the Shield and many others.
The fact remains the same – these guys are terrific athletes.
I know this last statement will draw a red flag from all of the ex-jocks out there who will claim the sport is a joke because it is fixed.
But I would challenge any of those same jocks to travel around the country for 320 days out of every year and to take a beating virtually every, single day without any extended time off.
The WWE guys do that each year in a jam-packed touring schedule that touches all reaches of America and several countries worldwide.
Sure, the outcome of the match is pre-determined.
But the falls and stunts the competitors absorb during their battles are not.
Simply put, one cannot fake falling 15 feet off a steel cage and through a wooden table.
But Mick Foley did that in 1998 in his famous match with the Undertaker.
The brunt of the blow knocked his front tooth so far upward that it came out of his nostril.
He was so beat up during the match and subsequent fall that he said in his book years later that he doesn’t remember the match ever taking place.
Can one fake that?
If you believe that you can, I have some beach property to sell to you in Wyoming.
During that same match, it’s also worth noting that Foley was slammed through a pile of thumbtacks and cameras showed the tiny needles lodged into the competitor’s skin.
I suppose we are going to now say that it was all fake and Foley felt no pain as cameras captured blood oozing through his skin as each tack was lodged from his skin?
Again – this property in Wyoming is pretty nice and it can be had at an affordable price!
Thumb tacks and crazy stunts aside, one also cannot fake torn knee ligaments, a torn pectoral muscle, a torn calf muscle and other bumps and bruises.
But those things have been suffered by John Cena during his decade-long run as one of the top performers in the WWE.
Cena’s injuries get publicized more than those of others because he is the most recognizable star in today’s sports entertainment world.
But countless other WWE stars spend months on the shelf with various bumps and bruises they receive in the heat of battle.
Those guys have the money to get care if injured.
Other local performers do not – they just risk it.
Why? Because they love the thrill of hearing the crowd pop (the wrestling term for cheer) when a good match is taking place.
We have a lot of solid independent wrestling here in the Tri-parish area from Elite Championship Wrestling to Gulf Coast Wrestling. Both are tickets worth buying when their shows head to the area.
So with all of this said, I am going to be one of the first people in line to get my ticket to WrestleMania when they go on sale.
I believe the show will be a must-see for any wrestling enthusiast like myself.
For the true nerds out there wondering what I think the big matches on the show will be, I can offer the following predictions.
I suspect we will see The Rock competing with Brock Lesnar at the event and Dolph Ziggler going toe-to-toe with John Cena.
But truly – who knows?
I just know I’ll be there to see it all unfold.
It’s about fricken’ time!