TLDR: After seven months of intense study, becoming a fan of professional wrestling has absolutely made my personality even worse. I saw Big Show in person and gave birth to a baby horse.
It’s the end of the road, gang. I went to Wrestlemania, I got a bottle thrown at my head, and it’s possible that my life changed in the process. In the event that you haven’t been building your life by reading a bi-weekly speculative wrestling column for the better part of a year, here’s a recap:
Last August, I bought a terrible seat to Wrestlemania 32 in Dallas, Texas on a dare, and made it my mission to attend as a full-fledged mark (for the uninitiated, this is a wrestling superfan who is also an asshole). Nearly eight months later, I climbed eight flights of stairs to one of the worst seats in a 100,000 seat stadium and watched seven consecutive hours of wrestling and loved every minute. How did I come to, as so many others have, co-opt pro wrestling in lieu of a personality worth having? Come along.
Full disclosure, there were at least two points in this project where I was hoping my editor would forget that I existed and the sweaty pals that have become a part of my internet life would let the whole thing drop. I couldn’t watch another Reigns promo. I couldn’t spend another Monday night watching three hours of not the Big Show performing an ASMR roleplay. Even in those moments, there was always something—about five hundred pounds and seven feet of something—that would bring me back. Weeeeeeeell—
I love Big Show so much. So much that I think loving him made me pregnant with not a baby Big Show, but a baby horse.
I arrived in Dallas not knowing anything except that I was going to Mania, that I couldn't afford to get drunk and that I'd be spending the night sleeping in my friend's bathtub. The majority of the city had been carousing for the better part of the weekend between the NXT show, the Hall of Fame induction (RIP Big Boss Man) and various indie wrestling shows, and I hit the streets to talk to as many people with terrible goatees and children that reek of Axe Body Spray as I could.
Dallas, let's talk for a second. You were not ready for the Mania folks to descend. Your Chipotle was closed. Your trains weren't running. The only wi-fi connection was at a TGI Fridays which, of course, I had to eat a cheeseburger at alone.
I spoke to about a hundred wrestling fans downtown and in front of AT&T Stadium, where there was a Walmart to get plenty fucked up before the doors opened. Some select quotes:
“I don't think the Big Show would have sex with you. No offense.”
“Big Show? Man, I been here all weekend and I haven't heard the damn Big Show's name one time.”
“You got a thing for the big guys? For the Big Show? [two consecutive minutes of laughter]”
In all seriousness, seeing the fans laid out chugging forties on the front lawn of Walmart was gratifying in its way, because the audience is growing more diverse, more open to change and ready for the next phase in creative (which, for once, they delivered with the Women's Championship). Sure, I spoke to the obligatory troupes of men achieving the hero pornography they'd been chasing since before they could vape, but I also saw groups of women who had come to see the Diva belt retired, full families and every color, shape and size of human being losing their mind over the slams and the jams which we all love.
I am going to tell you that I absolutely did not cry three tears when I walked into the pro shop. I didn't. I wouldn't. (I did.) Full disclosure: in a two-floor souvenir shop, not one Show item. I bought into the excitement—there's something about a line steeped thirty deep in lower-class people buying a five hundred dollar championship belt that makes you simultaneously angry about the profiteering that keeps the cocaine on Vince McMahon's mirrored coffee tables and melt at the prospect of something being that important to a fan that doesn't necessarily have the resources to make such a big purchase. That's over a year of minimum payments on a credit card, gang.
When I bought my ticket to Mania back in the summer, I wasn't told where I'd be sitting, but fortunately it was smack between a gigantic Texas family and an troupe of snaggletoothed misogynists. After refusing to tell the misgynists what I was doing “after the slams, babe” three or four times, I got them to take a picture of me with my sign, which I'm 100% sure Show saw from a thousand feet below.
Before the (fucking) two-hour pre-show started, I cried between five and fifty more tears. Maybe it was the altitude. Maybe I was going through a mid-life crisis over whether the psychic who told me I'll be hit by a truck full of sandwich meat when I'm forty six was right. Or maybe, I considered, this big, dumb protect actually worked. In summary:
Ryback vs. Kalisto: Glad they got paychecks.
Total Divas vs. BAD and Blonde: Brie had her mini-moment in her last match before retirement, and the WWE had their last Divas division match. Short, sweet and goodbye forever to both.
The Usos vs. The Dudley Boyz: They brought out the tables.
Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match: By now we know that unexpected victor Zack Ryder was promptly dethroned on the next evening's Raw, but watching this be-diapered doofus win the ladder match caused my blood to get dangerously close to the surface of my body. True marks didn't seem bothered—blah blah blah, he's sucked forever and they tossed him a bone—but come on. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn were the winners of this match, so it better be used for some decent character development.
Chris Jericho vs. AJ Styles: Styles, of course, should have taken this one, but you've got to admire Jericho's commitment to the Y2J / early aughts hacker vibe in spite of the fact that it's been irrelevant for well over a decade. The WWE has this weird habit of employing very dated gimmicks for years after their relevance like that—see the post-Cold War Rusev character or Sasha Banks' glasses, which Kanye made popular in 2008, for reference.
The New Day vs. League of Nations: This was a fun match to watch if only as a testament to the amazing tag team that Xavier Woods, Kofi Kingston and Big E have assembled in the past year and a half. After haggling with Vince to turn heel and get a shot at a measure of creative control of their characters, they tumbled out of a box of Booty O's in Dragonball Z costumes in front of 100,000 people before teaching Stone Cold Steve Austin, Mick Foley and Shawn Michaels how to dance. The match itself sucked, but New Day is the best mic work in the game right now.
Dean Ambrose vs. Brock Lesnar: Not bloody enough, not beast-y enough, not crazy enough. Got a hot dog so expensive during this match that my parents had to refinance their house.
Charlotte vs. Sasha vs. Becky Lynch: Remember those misogynists who were trying to squeeze in a date rape before the sun rose? Boy, did they hate this match. After cheering on the “good old fashioned bikini match” in the pre-show (agree to disagree), the good ole boys took issue with Charlotte for the duration of this match. Totally fine if this is on the basis of her heel-dom, but they opted to shout “Husky bitch!” at her for the first ten minutes of the match. After some hissing, I was able to negotiate them down to “husky witch,” which is about as progressive as Mania is going to get. Baby steps, y'all.
People are calling this the match of the night for a reason—just hours after the Women's Championship was announced and the Divas division, along with the Pink Pussy Butterfly belt, was retired, three of the main roster's biggest Superstars (!) delivered on a creative and athletic level in a huge way. Charlotte is becoming one of my favorite heels in the company, and the diversion of setting Sasha Banks up for a win by toting out cousin and newly minted Hall of Famer Snoop Dogg hooked me even deeper on the story. Even if she took a loss, her Mania moment doing the frogsplash in honor of fallen hero Eddie Guerrero was a big moment, and Becky getting to soar into Flair's face couldn't have been too bad, either. The new belt rules, the match ruled, I was smiling the entire time.
Undertaker vs. Shane McMahon: I hadn't done much homework on Shane, so the prospect of an exhausted, bloat-y Undertaker versus a veritable H&R Block employee wasn't very exciting, but it was worth it for the last two minutes.
The Andre the Giant Memorial Battle: Oh my God, I'm going to have a baby. I'm going to give birth to a baby horse in the balcony of a gigantic stadium. The music hit—
AND THE MOTHERFUCKING BIG SHOW CAME BARRELING OUT INTO THE RING TO LITTLE FANFARE EXCEPT ME WHO WAS CRYING A LOT.
If you were watching, you know that Show had won this match last year, and did not make it a full minute into the match this year, inexplicably going out to Baron Corbin (who I like but is undeniably not Big Show). We did, however, get the least explained celebrity appearance of the night in this gorgeous Show on Shaq moment:
I mean, Show loses moments after this and is virtually never seen again, but suffice it to say that I gave birth to a beautiful baby horse named Paul Wight Junior upon witnessing this glorious moment in history. In my mind, the pop for Show will always be bigger than the pop for Shaq, even though this will never, ever be true.
I love my baby horse, though he was tragically confiscated at the Dallas Fort Worth Airport.
Roman Reigns vs. Triple H: At this point, I've just given birth and so I am tired. The Rock came on at some point, and his skin was looking taut as hell, like he'd been cursed by a Hollywood ghost. I chose this moment to eat a page of my favorite book, Infinite Jest.
Then, the main event. There’s nothing that I can say here that others haven’t said a million times over, but Roman Reigns’ babyface persona is the human equivalent of a long, silent fart that no one will own up to. He’s a plastic bag full of grits. He’s got less charisma than my grandmother, who has been dead for two years and also had a boring personality. This on top of Triple H’s abysmal Mania main event record made for a thirty-minute long, story-less fart that put the audience to sleep.
And that was it. After eight months, that was Mania, and my butt had remained enthusiastically in its terrible seat for seven hours. I found my friends, paid too much for an Uber and slept in the tub, where I twice accidentally kicked the hot water valve and went home with wet pants and low-degree burns. So what’s the takeaway?
Professional wrestling is a dumb thing that brings people together, like figure skating or the Hitler Youth. With any of these interests, some people take it too far, and others are just in it for the cool costumes. I am one of them now (a wrestling fan, a figure skater, and a member of the Hitler Youth). I will continue to watch wrestling, spit cheap beer out of any and all of my facial orifices, and bore people at parties with my new, dumb hobby. My personality will suffer, and my life will prosper. Who am I to argue with the great equalizer that is a hatred for the WWE creative team?
You’ll be hearing more from me soon, but suffice it to say—it was a Big Show. And yes, I tried to have sex with the Big Show and ruin his family.
DAYS UNTIL WRESTLEMANIA: Negative two days.
State of Union: I gave birth to a horse.
Jamie Loftus is a comedian and writer whose baby teeth have been bronzed and loaded into a gun for when the moment is right. You can find her some of the time, most days at @hamburgerphone or jamieloftusisinnocent.com.