The first memory I have of Professional wrestling was when I was around 12 years old.
It was Wrestlemania 2, Hulk Hogan vs King Kong Bundy Cage Match.
I remember playing wrestling with my younger siblings, bodyslamming them on to the bed.
My parents didn’t like us playing such violent games (oh how the times have changed… not!). But we loved it.
Over time, wrestling evolved. New heroes and villains emerged. Crazy plots. But I think that between the costumes and the normally clear identification between the ‘good guys’ and the ‘bad guys’, wrestling was almost like watching superheroes and supervillains battle.
I even remember watching the animated Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘n’ Wrestling episodes.
This week, I went to see WWE live for the first time, during their Melbourne tour.
The event opened with the Usos vs The Wyatt Family – Tag Team title match.
The Usos were cast as the good guys, and that was confirmed when it turned out they were wearing Melbourne Storm guernseys.
From the line ups, you could pick who was going to win each match before they began. And that stayed true, though the victory was usually following a come back from near losses.
The crowd stepped up in volume when Chris Jericho came on stage. And after his match he picked up the microphone and talked with the crowd. He invited a friend up on stage with his girlfriend and her daughter. Then proceeded to propose on stage with the words ‘WILL YOU MARRY ME’ up on the giant screens, while the crowd chanted YES! YES! YES! YES! The outcome was predictable.
The Divas tag team match also saw the volume amp up, and even to an extra level when the Melbourne born Diva, Emma was involved. Of course, Emma performed the winning move.
Then there was a triple threat match between Sheamus, Rob Van dam and Cesaro for the US Championship. A great spectacle with each champion performing signature maneuvers. Ultimately, Shaemus retained his title.
That actually always kind of bugged me. I always felt that if it is a US Championship title, it should be limited to US wresters. The International wrestlers should aim for the Intercontinental championship, or have European, Asia/Pacific Championships for them to contest.
The main event was a Street fight match between Kane and Roman Reigns with special guest referee Ric Flair.
Many fans expected that this would be the last time they could expect to see Ric on tour, and the ovation he received when he entered the stadium was the loudest, with thousands of fans shouting the signature ‘Wooo!’
Like any good Street fight match, there were props like kendo sticks, the steel stairs, chairs and one choke slam through a table, to the delight of the crowd. But only after Kane knocked Ric Flair across the stage, and Ric responded with a bulldog to the back of the knee and a few signature chops ‘WOOOO!’ was Roman Reigns able to claim the final victory.
It was a great night out and quality entertainment. There were a lot of young kids there considering it was a school night. Some were unhappy that more of the biggest names (John Cena, CM Punk, Undertaker, Daniel Bryant, Randy Orton) were not present, but the matches that were held were wholly entertaining.
For me, the unfortunate part is the venue. Rod Laver arena is a horrible place to wander through, full of congestion with poorly placed merchandise stands directly opposite food stands. Plus, the venue not allowing fireworks was disappointing, particularly when Kane could not do his signature entrance. Unfortunately, Melbourne does not have an alternative venue that is any better.