Wrestling, for me, has always been a way of escaping. It has helped me put the pain of the real world aside for a time. As a boy it helped me cope with a life I didn’t understand. Tonight it helped me forget pain for just a little while.
Earlier on Sunday, I attended a viewing of a dear friend at a local funeral home. I brought my young family to pay our respects and found my heart hurt more by the minute upon arriving. My friend, Mrs. Giroux, had let me camp out at her house for the better part of a decade as I hung out with her youngest son. She let me join in family celebrations, parties, long weekends, trips and it was not until I was an adult that I understood that she was teaching me lessons. I was being taught lessons in compassion. Seeing her grief stricken family brought those simple lessons to the fore, love one another, forgive, laugh and try your hardest. Mrs. Giroux and her husband were diamonds in a world of grey rocks and I appreciate them for it.
The later on Sunday, I attended the WWE show in Buffalo, New York, with a heavy heart. I was just downright sad. It is so hard to say goodbye to such an influential person in your life and then you go to wrestling seems almost wrong. In fact it was the right move.
My long-time pal Derek and I attended the show and were pleasantly surprised by what we saw and what we didn’t see. As lifelong wrestling fans we spent a lot of time kibitzing about storylines and ways to improve the state of wrestling. What we found was a crowd that told us everything we needed to know about professional wrestling.
One of the things that stood out to me was the crowd. A year ago the same arena, the Key Bank Center, was maybe half full for a WWE show. This time, for the first time in a long time, the upper deck was open and half full. That tells me that the WWE is starting to resonate with the fans once again.
Another thing that was obvious was who the crowd wanted to see and who it didn’t care for. John Cena was still wildly popular with the fans and his hard-hitting style was still appreciated by the fans. Cena just seems to do so much with just a look to ringside. I remembered back to the days of Hulk Hogan where the golden god would point to the upper decks and get reactions from the crowd. Cena made eye contact with people wearing his shirts, holding up signs with his name on them, he made them feel special. These people were not a blob of humanity but rather his people, and he appreciated them.
His opponent was Roman Reigns. Reigns has been a polarizing figure in the WWE for quite some time now. It was tonight that I was shocked. In the past young children and teenage girls hollered loudly for Reigns, but not tonight. In fact the arena was largely quiet for Reigns. He had next to no reaction. That is a terrible place to be as a wrestler. I hope the WWE sees this. My friend Derek had the line of the night as he yelled to a silent Key Bank Center, “Why does everyone hate Aquaman? He is in Justice League!”
The main man as far as the WWE should be concerned is The Miz. The fans hung on his every move just waiting to see what the charismatic grappler would do next. Just his smile elicited a response from the crowd. Maybe that is why Miz went on last and the supposed big names were done before intermission. The Miz is the most entertaining wrestler in the WWE. Every worker in the back should watch him.
Another wrestler that the fans connected with was Asuka. She was cheered from start to finish of her match. At first I thought it was just the young girls who were cheering for her but then I started to hear the voices of adults as they urged the Japanese grappler on. It was a tidal wave of emotion that enwrapped Asuka and shows that she is a supernova in the sport.
Over all the show was very good and was entertaining. It helped me to put my sorrow away for a few hours. I shouldn’t be surprised as wrestling has helped me to do that since 1985. Thank you WWE and your athletes for making a very emotional day end on a happy note.
Braun Strowman defeated Elias
Goldust, Rhyno, Heath Slater defeated the Revival and Curt Hawkins
Asuka defeated Sonya DeVille
Kalisto defeated Devari, Gran Metallic and Tony Nese
Roman Reigns defeated John Cena
The Bar defeated Gallows and Anderson and O’Neil and Crews
Alexa Bliss beat Bayley
Miz, Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas lost to Balor and Rollins.