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KR: The Road to WrestleMania
by Robert Heard on 29 March 2008

Right, well it is well known that I am a Puro writer and have never written on the subject of American Wrestling. But a Puro blog on the eve of WrestleMania seems wrong, not in the least because WrestleMania is not a Japanese event at all…HustleMania is but then the less said about that the better.

But the fact that I don’t write about it doesn’t mean I don’t like it, in fact I was a fan of American wrestling WAY before I was into Puro if I am honest and it has only been since 2005 that my love for US wrestling has diminished.

Doesn’t mean I go out of my way to miss the events though. If there is a big PPV I make the effort to watch it, usually through a manner that will allow me not to pay money to Vince McMahon or Sky Box Office but I watch it.

Darkstar or DC (from the forums) will probably mention that they usually pay for it instead and I come to visit and watch it for free… this is also true but in fairness they gain my company so whose the real winner there?

But regardless of all this, this week is WrestleMania, the biggest and greatest PPV spectacle of all when it comes to wrestling and a show I always make sure I grab regardless of the card or even if I know it will be crap in terms of match quality.

The reason being is that this for most wrestling fans represents the pinnacle of the profession, like a Tokyo Dome show for the Puroites but BIGGER.

You want to know my favourite all time moment in wrestling? No it’s not Misawa’s first Triple Crown win or Kobashi’s return from cancer or even watching Inoki v Flair in front of a crowd of 120,000 in North Korea….

No, it’s Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit, WrestleMania XX, stood there in the middle of the ring, both having been through so much and lost so much hugging and sharing the biggest night and wins of their lives together, their journey to the top, a long and hard one, complete at last.

Nothing quite sums up the feeling of achievement and prestige and joy that WrestleMania can conjure up in the fan and the wrestler alike then that moment. It made me cry and I don’t do that easy, hell loved ones of mine have died and I cried less then I did that night or should I say morning (seen as it usually finishes around 5am over here).

Damn shame then that both of them are dead so soon after what was a great night and that also Chris’s actions will mean we never see that moment ever again on WWE television. What deserved to be in the montage that begins every WrestleMania from now until the end of time has been robbed from us… but I digress, this is not about Chris, this is about the joy of wrestling and how WrestleMania captures that in us all.

Whenever I sit down and watch it the kid in me (the innocent wide eyed one, not the one that blew up a science lab on purpose) comes to the front of my mind and take over. It is pure escapist joy in the grandeur of the occasion. It is this that made me leap up and down and scream BBBBOOOOMMMMBBBBB as Batista drove HHH into the mat and won his first world title (sad I know).

It was this that made me scream HOLY EXPLETIVE DELETED! When Jeff Hardy did THAT Swanton from the ladder during TLC II… or when Edge speared him from the belt rung… or when Rhino, sorry Rhyno, GORED Lita and smacked her head into a ladder…

But this year the one match that appeals to me the most and the child inside is Ric Flair v Shawn Michaels.

It has so much in its story, its possible consequences and in the names of those involved. I am a Shawn Michaels mark, there I said it, mock me if you will but HBK represents the first time I got into wrestling and it was he who helped push the boundaries in the WWE as to what a main event star could be and what a main event could actually be.

Then you have Ric Flair. Yes he is old, worn down, slightly mental and so past his prime it can be upsetting sometimes seeing him in the ring when you know this was the man who stayed over an hour in a Rumble match to win the WWF title. The man who bled across the country with Terry Funk in 1989 in so many awesome matches and a man who with Ricky Steamboat produced the finest match I have ever seen come out of the old JCP/NWA/WCW era.

Both of them to me are THE MAN in so many ways and to see them collide as friends and to decide possibly Ric’s future in the ring (well in theory) has me all caught up in hoping that for one more night, just one more night, that Ric Flair will be the man (and hopefully wear a t-shirt whilst doing it) and that he and Michaels have the classic match I feel they deserve and in the end give ol’ Naitch the dignified end to the most magnificent of careers.

For me this is what WrestleMania is all about. As a child I believed, truly, in the old fable, about it being ‘The Road to WrestleMania’, about it being an epic journey with an ending, that while not always an happy one, would end in a manner that made you glad you where there.

HBK v Bret in the Iron Man match, Austin v Bret in that I Quit Match, Warrior v Hogan, Andre v Hogan, Lesnar v Angle, Benoit v HHH v HBK… all of them had a great build up, a great back story and in the end a great spectacle to end it all on.

That is all I ask for when it comes to Mania (not much I know but hey, I’m that kinda guy) and this year, one way or another I know it will provide it again just like last year when Taker retained the streak and gained the World Title and when Vince got made into a slap head. Memories I will keep forever in my head that make me smile, that is what WrestleMania is about and always will be for me.

I hope this WrestleMania lives up to the dream for you as well…

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