Hitting the Ropes: Saying Good-bye to WrestleMania, New Orleans, the Streak,…and the Ultimate Warrior

HTR_3Hitting the Ropes: Saying Good-bye to WrestleMania, New Orleans, the Streak,…and the Ultimate Warrior

As I was flying home Monday morning from New Orleans, heading to Washington DC, I thought back on a memorable and thrilling WrestleMania weekend.  Most of my friends stayed in town to go to Monday Night Raw at the Smoothie Center.  The Raw after WrestleMania is always a great show; however I chose to skip it this year.  It was time for me to head home.  I’m 40 years old now and being away from my 2 young children is hard on the entire family.   My wife is nice enough to “let” me go to WrestleMania ever year but I need to be respectful and come home the next day.  So my yearly trip is now a few days shorter.  But honestly I’m not sure how much more excitement I could have handled.

New Orleans and WrestleMania XXX were collectively magnificent.

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Hitting the Ropes – The Best in the World?

HTR_3Hitting the Ropes – The Best in the World?

So the top of the Wrestlemania card is shaping up, and if we’re being honest, it is pretty underwhelming.  The “face” of the WWE, Randy Orton is scheduled to headline the event versus Batista, a match exactly zero people are excited to see.  Maybe WWE management will add Daniel Bryan to the match to please the fans, but as of now Bryan is scheduled to wrestle Triple H.  And besides I’m not a big fan of changing matches the night of a show.  I like the build.  I like the storylines.  That’s what sells it for me.  Not last-minute changes.  It took 2 years for the Mega-Powers to explode, and when they finally met in Atlantic City it was a memorable moment.

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Hitting the Ropes: Bring Back Hulkamania!

HTR_3Hitting the Ropes: Bring Back Hulkamania!

WWE announced this past Monday that The Animal, Dave Batista, is returning to the company in January.  Honestly I was pleasantly surprised.  I’m not a huge Batista fan but this should shake things up a little bit.  I feel WWE has been a little stale lately, which is usually how I feel before Wrestlemania season.

So I’m looking forward to Batista’s arrival on January.  But I don’t think Vince should stop there.

The time has come to bring Hulk Hogan back to World Wrestling Entertainment.

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HITTING THE ROPES: “Was It Really Better?”

HTR_3Hitting the Ropes – Was It Really Better?

Recently I was the featured guest on the “Madden and Doyle” radio program and we talked about a lot of different sports.  NFL, NCAA, baseball and of course pro wrestling.  I thought the show went really well and the host Pete said he got some good feedback.  But then I listened to the program and realized something I didn’t like…I had turned into THAT GUY.  You know, the “everything was better back then” guy.  The “back in the day” guy.  Ugh.  What’s next?  Wearing black socks and white shoes while yelling at the kids to get off my lawn?!?

How did this happen?  When did I become this way?  And is this transformation permanent?

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HITTING THE ROPES: “Tripping Down Memory Lane”

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Hitting the Ropes: Tripping Down Memory Lane

I just returned from Toronto recently.  I flew there to meet my sports idol Monica Seles, who was making a rare public appearance at the Rogers Cup tennis tournament.  It was a big thrill for me, she has always been my favorite female athlete (with apologies to the Glamazon) and I couldn’t believe I was going to see her play again.

I have admired Monica since I was in high school and although I couldn’t really afford tickets, I scrounged and saved for a long time to go to New York to see her play in the 1992 Virginia Slims Championships (a tournament she won).  I saw her again in 1995 when she played an exhibition in Atlantic City, a match that celebrated Monica’s return to tennis after being stabbed (and almost killed) during a match two years prior.

It was awesome to see Monica return to competitive tennis in 1995, but nothing for her was ever really the same.  Even her personal life suffered because of the trauma of the stabbing.   Although Seles didn’t officially retire until 2008 her career stalled because of poor nutrition, age, and most importantly, a dominant new group of players spearheaded by the dynamic Williams sisters.  I stopped watching because, to some degree, it was too painful to watch this once-proud champion’s career fall apart.  At the time of her stabbing Monica was #1 in the world.  How great could she have become?  How much was taken away from her?  As a fan those questions are painful.  I can’t imagine how she deals with it.

So I hadn’t seen Monica play since 1995.  Eighteen years is a long time.  Throw in a chance to meet her and get a picture together, well, I had to be in Toronto.  It was time to heal some of my memories and reconnect with one of my heroes.

In general the event lived up to the billing.  The Rexall Center in Toronto is a great venue for professional tennis and I got to see a lot of exciting matches in my short 3 days there.  I met Monica during an autograph session, got a photo with her, and had her sign a Seles baseball card I’ve had for over 20 years.  I sat front row Monday night as she and Genie Bouchard (Canada’s #1 female player) lost an exhibition match to Serena and Venus Williams.  (Note – I have no idea how they score these exhibition matches…the final was 8-5…your guess is as good as mine…)

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Hitting the Ropes: Super Cena?

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Hitting the Ropes: Super Cena?

It’s a bird…it’s a plane…no wait…it’s Super Cena!

Faster than Rey Mysterio!

Stronger than Mark Henry!

Able to leap Big Shows in a single bound!

John Cena isn’t a real super hero, but he does play one on TV.  Actually that’s all wrestling really is…people that can do physically amazing things all within the context of a storyline or angle.  John Cena happens to do this very well.  Maybe a little too well.  Because even though he has risen to the top of the largest sports entertainment company in the world, it seem like everybody hates him!

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Hitting the Ropes – The Year of the Snake?

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Hitting the Ropes - The Year of the Snake?

This past week on Monday Night Raw Wade Barrett pinned Randy Orton right in the middle of the ring.  I read it may be the beginning of Orton’s heel turn, all part of a storyline.  Really?  I know one thing – John Cena’s not getting pinned clean on Monday nights.  Ever.  Neither is CM Punk.  I used to think Orton was in their league but now I’m not so sure.

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