A Beginner’s Experience of Wrestlemania (Calling Spots Issue 15)

Hey folks! It’s me, Jo Graham, back again in Calling Spots to bring you what I know you need: my thoughts on which wrestlers look like hams.

Actually, that’s not why I’m here. As much as I love talking about wrestlers looking like meats, I have a more immediate, higher duty to perform. I’m going to talk about Wrestlemania 31. “But that’s BORING” I hear you cry. “We don’t know who you are or why your opinion on Wrestlemania should matter to us”. Well perhaps this will change your mind. You see, fair readers, I am a wrestling noob. A scrub, if you like. A simple fledging to the world of pro-wrestling. Fresh faced, bright-eyed, I have emerged; like a newborn lamb in spring. I have never watched Wrestlemania; in fact, I haven’t seen much wrestling at all. I watch NXT each week and most Total Divas and the occasional Raw. Besides from that, I know nothing. On the whole, a lot of it goes over my head. But that’s ok! Because I’m using this unique perspective as a new wrestling fan (and a lady one too) to try to emphasise just how weird wrestling is, when nothing makes sense and everything is confusing.

So here goes: A Beginner’s Experience of Wrestlemania.

Right off the bat, I’m confused. It’s the pre-show and there’s Comic Sans in the network ad. I used to be a graphic designer, and lemme tell ya, I’m disappointed in you, WWE. Renee Young is wearing the most magnificent pink top and I can’t help but consider how wonderfully they would match the pink sparkly false nails I’m currently sporting. Booker T is being gross. “Women just naturally hate each other”. Mate, I love women. What I hate is misogynist jerks like you pitting us against each another. I want the wind to blow his stupid fucking book away.

It’s time for the first match: a Fatal 4 Way for the Tag Team Championship.
Out come the Usos (I’ve never been able to look at Jimmy Uso in the same way since his gross injured toe was splashed all over a particularly traumatic episode of Total Divas), followed by Los Matadores. Then come The New Day and Tyson Kidd & Cesaro. Cesaro’s boots are beautiful and I want them. They’re gold and white and shiny and gorgeous and make him look like a literal adonis – a modern day Hercules. Natalya’s also looking fantastic; a vision of strength, covered in a fantastic leather bodysuit complete with giant, magnificent jeweled pauldrons. I’ve fallen over in love with them both and I can’t get back up. Tyson Kidd is also there.

Team ‘Could Beat Me Up and I’d Thank Them For It’ win the match and it’s onto…the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. I can never keep up with these things, especially only knowing maybe 5 wrestlers in total. Hideo Itami is eliminated way too soon (by Big Show of all people), decreasing the ever-dwindling number of wrestlers who don’t look like testicles or hams. Even though I’m disappointed to see him gone, it’s awesome hearing 75,000 people cheering for him on a main show after the much smaller audiences at NXT (although no doubt he’s used to bigger what with his wrestling career in Japan). Ryback (or Street Shark Ham, as I like to call him) is also shortly eliminated and Big Show eventually wins the match, representing scary yet boring ham men everywhere. He’s presented with a somewhat odd-looking statue of Andre the Giant, and as the guys from the Attitude Era Podcast tweeted, I think we’re all hoping he chokes a little bit when he tries to find out if the trophy has chocolate inside.

There’s a brief interlude while someone sings America the Beautiful. I hope Rusev kicks the screen down and burns an American flag, because that would be funny. An old man comes on stage and hangs up a belt on a rope. I’m worried his old man trousers will fall down without it.

Next up: the Intercontinental Championship with Bad News Barrett vs Daniel Bryan vs Dean Ambrose vs Dolph Ziggler vs Stardust vs Luke Harper vs you know what? This is WAY too long to type up. This is an unnecessary number of wrestlers and I can’t be bothered to remember them all, let alone their names. At least they’re mostly handsome, with hardly any hams at all. Dolph has his hair in a very fetching French plait (a hairstyle notoriously difficult to master despite numerous Pinterest tutorials) and Stardust’s entire look is (as always) on point, albeit likely uncomfortable for such a hot and sunny afternoon. Out of the blue comes a glitter ladder – clearly the true star of of this match, and perhaps WWE as a whole. I’m praying Glitter Ladder somehow becomes the intercontinental champion of 2015, as my new favourite wrestler. Daniel Bryan wins and everyone in the crowd is very happy about that.

Then it’s time for Randy Orton vs Seth Rollins. Both these men look considerably like my exes, so seeing them beat the crap out of each other is a kind of cathartic twisted fantasy for me. Seth looks like the less awful of my exes, so I’m on his side with this match. Besides, he’s dressed better, with an impressive hairy chest and eye-catching leather pants, not red speedos like the ones my dad wears when he goes swimming. Seth does a beautiful Mario triple jump off Randy Orton’s head but Orton inevitably wins the match.

Next we have Triple H vs Sting or as I like to call it: Stubble Ham vs Face Paint Ham. Stephanie McMahon talks a bit and somehow looks even younger than every other time I’ve seen her. Some kind of promotional Sting band plays drums. It’s all a bit weird. For some reason Sting himself is wearing a jacket but no t-shirt. The jacket seems to have a lobster on it. “It’s a SCORPION. My name is STING” he would no doubt yell. He seems to almost stumble on stage, looking around him as if sunlight was something he has heard of before (perhaps in ancient legend), but never seen.

The internet is very excited about this next bit because Triple H’s entrance will supposedly be Terminator themed. I am less enthused although perhaps that is in part to me initially mishearing Terminator for Transformer. Footage from the new film is playing on screen while a bunch of Terminators (is that the correct plural?) appear on stage from rising platforms (the rising platforms are more impressive than the Terminators if I’m honest). There’s a really tacky A Level Media Studies style interface on screen, clearly animated using After Effects. Arnold Schwarzenegger is there. Finally, Triple H comes onstage. He looks really, really silly. There’s something sad about a fully grown man dressed as a shitty robot on a hot spring day. A reminder for you, dear readers: this is my first ever Wrestlemania. And this abomination is the first Triple H entrance I’ve ever seen. I really hope Stephanie took SOME convincing that this was anything but a super lame idea.
Triple H: I’M THE TERMINATOR NOW
Stephanie: Honey, no…You can’t be the Terminator.
Triple H: I’M THE BOSS I’M THE TERMINATOR IF I WANT TO BE

There was some wrestling next and then suddenly a bunch of old men (who I assume are senile and have gotten lost) wandered on stage. I have no idea who they are. Now some even older men are here. I’m terribly confused. I literally have no clue who a single one of these very old men are. Wait, I think the one with the moustache is Hulk Hogan. They go back to wrestling each other and after nearly 20 minutes, Triple H defeats Sting. I’m still confused. Afterwards there’s an interview with Daniel Bryan and a bunch of more old guys turn up. I recognise Roddy Pipper (from that one episode of Celebrity Wifeswap) and Ric Flair (from that one episode of Celebrity Wifeswap). From what little I’ve seen of Ric Flair, he seems to be like that embarrassing sad uncle who get drunk at parties and inevitably ends up naked and crying.

Next up it’s Nikki Bella and Brie Bella vs Paige and A.J. Lee. I won’t lie, this is the match I’m probably most excited for. As always with the Divas, the outfits are on point (thanks to the massively talented Sandra Grey; we’ll miss you) and even the entrances are cool. Paige comes onto the stage and stands there nonchalantly, still managing to achieve levels of coolness that Triple H’s Terminator persona can only dream of. Nikki comes in wearing a backwards trucker hat; a look I will most definitely be stealing just as soon as I buy myself a really cool trucker hat. There’s some fantastic wrestling, but all I can think about is how much I hope this match ends with the Divas deciding that they’re not gonna put up with Booker T’s gross misogyny, elbow-dropping his stupid book and then hugging each other. That didn’t happen and after 6 minutes, 50 seconds, Paige and A.J. Lee defeated The Bella Twins. I’m not entirely sure, but I think the musical segment with Skylar Grey and Kid Ink might have been longer than the match.

Up next it’s Rusev vs John Cena. Rusev’s entrance is utterly glorious with marching soldiers, cannons, Lana in a cool as hell white suit carrying the title and Rusev himself arriving on a tank. I hope Triple H isn’t too sad that his entrance has been massively upstaged by one of the biggest communist anti-American heels of all time (probably, I’m guessing here). I’m looking forward to Rusev’s entrance next year when he comes in dragging the exhumed corpse of Abraham Lincoln and pisses on it. I hope John Cena’s entrance is equally impressive, perhaps involving him flying in on a giant American bald eagle. Unfortunately that doesn’t seem to be the case, instead getting a kinda shitty iMovie compilation of republicans (with a half second shot of Obama) and John Cena walking onstage holding a disappointingly small towel.
Cena: Triple can I…Can I get a cool entrance too?
Triple H: No we’ve spent the entire budget on my Terminator entrance. Have this free towel.

I’m not sure who’s more likely to win this match but my money’s on Cena for the sake of American pride. If Rusev wins, would the American spirit be crushed? I can see it now; a dystopian future where Rusev and Lana rule almighty, and John Cena’s kept in a small cage for their amusement. At any rate, if Rusev wins I hope he makes John Cena sing the Soviet National Anthem. Alas, Rusev runs into Cena (who steps aside) and ends up knocking Lana off the apron, ending with a pin from Cena.

After some gloating from Stephanie McMahon and Triple H about the success of WWE, the Rock came into the ring. I’m familiar enough with The Rock – I’ve seen a few matches of him with Mick Foley in the Rock ’n’ Sock days, but have to admit that I primarily know of him from that one film where he plays a Tooth Fairy. There’s some feud stuff that goes over my head and then a new woman comes in, apparently called Ronda Rousey. I know nothing about her so far, except that she’s wearing a t-shirt with a Dragon Ball Z meme from 2006 on it. I hope her gimmick is that she’s an anime-loving trash nerd. Out of the blue, the Rock starts going on about playing jumprope with Stephanie’s fallopian tubes (an odd choice considering their size – you’d really think intestines would be more appropriate but perhaps that threat isn’t gendered enough). Then they all fight (briefly) before Stephanie and Triple flee from the ring.

Now it’s time for Undertaker vs Bray Wyatt – a match I’m massively excited for, if in part due to the fact that this may be the first Undertaker match I’ve ever seen. Unfortunately the gorgeous sun shining down on them both somewhat lessens the dramatic effect of their entrances. Bray blowing out his lantern is certainly less impressive in the day and the Undertaker looks like he’s seen sunlight fewer times than he’s lost a match. I’m not entirely sure who or what the Undertaker is but he looks like a gravedigger cowboy. I’ve decided to turn to Twitter to learn more about him. According to a fellow Wrestlemania live-tweeter he was a zombie mortician, then a zombie leader of a satanic cult, then a human biker (how did he become human again??), then an MMA fan and then a zombie wizard. I really hope I’m not being trolled here, because if this is true that means that canonically, in the WWE universe, zombies exist…and they can become a WWE champion.

At one point Bray Wyatt starts walking like a crab and the Undertaker sits up and everyone freaks the fuck out. I can only assume this is because the Undertaker is really, really old and his back isn’t what it used to be, and sitting up is challenging for older people and everyone’s really happy that he’s not too old to do that just yet. After an actually really awesome match, Undertaker defeats Bray Wyatt, and it’s time for the final match of Wrestlemania: Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Lesnar is truly the ultimate murder ham – a terrifying shark of a man with beady little eyes and (unlike most people) a torso that doesn’t end at his shoulders. The thought that there is an actual human being who could be conceivably unrealistically scary as a fictional character in a video game just blows my mind. Judging from Twitter, my hope that Reigns wins the match is an unpopular one (I can’t resist a Good Dad story, sorry).

Suddenly Seth Rollins runs in, Money in the Bank briefcase in hand! I really hope he’s here as a reverse heel turn and is coming to Reign’s aid. Nope, he tells the referee that he’s cashing in and the match becomes a Triple Threat between Good Dad, Murder Ham and Crossfit Jesus – a somehow even more exciting prospect than the original match. After some wrestling moves that undoubtedly have names, Seth pins Reigns to win the title and absolutely legs it, belt in hand, as far away from Lesnar as possible. God, I love Seth Rollins.

And with that, it seems Wrestlemania is all over. It’s been an experience to be sure; one with confused old men stumbling on stage for no apparent reason, Russians on tanks, incredible outfits (looking at you Stephanie), terrible outfits (looking at you, Triple H) and a lot of really, really great wrestling. I came into Wrestlemania expecting the World Cup wrestling equivalent (I know the Superbowl is the common comparison, but I’ve never seen that either). Instead it was closer to a live episode of Eastenders where Phil Mitchell becomes mayor of Suplex City. Even though I knew only a little about what was going on, the confusion didn’t detract from my enjoyment, perhaps knowing just enough to get a feeling of choosing sides and favourites. I hope next year the divas get considerably more airtime, I hope Hideo Itami gets a match with less than 20 other people and I really, really hope that right now Seth Rollins is on a plane heading for “wherever Lesnar isn’t”.

As published in Calling Spots magazine.