On Sunday, I took my son to his first WWE pay-per-view … though how much longer we continue to call them that is in question, with them airing primarily on the WWE Network.
It was the Tables, Ladders and Chairs … and Stairs show in Cleveland, at the Quicken Loans Arena — “The Q.” [Here's my report: Browns loss offset by Ziggler win at TLC.]
We had fun. The seats were good, the action great, and the fans were pretty into it. The only issue with a show that has so much plunder and so much action away from the ring is that you end up watching a lot on the big screens.
And, because we’d been the Cleveland Browns game earlier in the afternoon, we had already had our fill of soda and popcorn, so didn’t need to buy anything at the show!
Naturally, the whole experience got me thinking a little bit about some of my own experiences at pay-per-views in the past.
My memory ain’t what it used to be … but here’s an attempt to list some of the pay-per-views I have been to through the years.
1) WrestleMania VI in 1990 — It was at Toronto’s SkyDome, and it was the last year that I wrote my Canadian Wrestling Report newsletter.
2) WWE Breakdown: In Your House on September 27, 1998 — It was at Copps Coliseum in Hamilton, Ontario, where I’d seen a ton of hockey over the years, as well as other events, like MoscaMania. The show was notable for the debut of Christian, a mysterious figure who arrived during the Edge vs Owen Hart bout.
3) WrestleMania XV in 1999 – The show was at Philadelphia’s First Union Center, but what really stands out for me was the fan fest — a precursor to the more ambitious Fan Axxess events — at the convention centre. They had a media room set up and continually brought out various WWF stars for interviews. I told Jerry Lawler that I owned a Lawler AWA World title T-shirt (still do). I joked with Edge that I didn’t need to talk to him, as I had only just seen him in Toronto. And I got to meet Isaac Hayes, who was there because of his celebrity as Chef in South Park, but who I knew as one of the greatest musicians and writers of all-time.
4) WCW Mayhem on November 21, 1999 – The Air Canada Centre in Toronto was rocking for WCW’s first PPV in town. There was a tournament for the WCW World title, and I remember the WCW PR guy tipping me off: “You Canadians are going to like the result.” The main event ended up being Bret Hart vs Chris Benoit, with the Hitman winning.
5) WrestleMania 2000 – This was the first and only time I’d done the triple-shot that a lot of fans do now, going to Anaheim’s Arrowhead Pond for the big show, then to Los Angeles for Raw and San Jose for Smackdown. Lots of memories with this one, particularly because my Dad made the trek with me. Of note, and this demonstrates the time, there was no wireless connection in the arena, and WWF didn’t pay to turn on the phone lines to file electronically in the press box. To file my story to the Sun newspaper chain (and SLAM! Wrestling), we had to go to an office of an employee of the Pond, where I put my story from a disc, and put that disc in their computer … once it booted up. (The next year in Houston, WWE had the phone lines working.)
6) WrestleMania X-Seven in 2001 – The Astrodome in Houston struck me as a bit of a dump, with water leaking up in the media room, and other excitement. Again, I find myself remembering things away from the show. WWE Canada hosted a dinner for its clients and even lowly media like me at Fogo de Chão Brazilian Steakhouse. Various WWE wrestlers are called upon to visit these type of events during the lead-up to WrestleMania, so everyone could go home saying they met a wrestler. Al Snow was dispatched to visit with us. I told him about a New Fabulous Kangaroos boomerang that I owned with his visage on it. His reply? “Burn it.” (Ironically, I didn’t go to WrestleMania X-8 in Toronto, as I had been laid off by Canoe, and wasn’t brought back to run the SLAM! Wrestling section until March 2003.)
7) WrestleMania 22 in 2006 – My hotel was right across the parking lot from Chicago’s Allstate Arena. It’s a tiny venue, maybe the smallest arena ever for WrestleMania. There was no press box, so I was typing in my seat. After the show, I ran across the parking lot — in the pouring rain — to my hotel so I could file the story. Then I had lots of wrestling fans to have a couple beers with once the work was done.
8) Unforgiven on September 17, 2006 – It’s always convenient when show at at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre. Alas, it is the last WWE PPV in town.
9) WWE TLC 2014 in Cleveland
Often I’ll hear, “Oh, you’re so lucky” because I’ve gone to WrestleMania, and all that — and I am — but it was also work, sometimes frustratingly so, butting my head up against the WWE machine.