To quote Cody Rhodes “Wrestling is a buffet.” Now when you’re at a buffet you have options, you can take a little of whatever you want and there’s probably some thighs on that buffet you do not like, but the important thing is they are there.
Wrestling is a buffet in that same regard; there is so much more than what you see on the surface. Allow me to illustrate this with my tale of WrestleMania 35 weekend in New York City from my perspective as a person who attended 8 shows of a wide variety of promotions over the 4 days I was there. I just want to touch on these because this isn’t as much of a review of anything as device to convey the wide variety of options available to you.
Best place to start is the beginning, arriving on Thursday afternoon and check into the hotel. We went right over to Melrose ballroom which is a fairly well known wrestling venue. Here I saw the MLW TV taping. Very strong start and a great show but just about what you would expect from a typical wrestling show and there’s nothing wrong with that. The most memorable was an insane match pitting The Hart Foundation of Teddy Hart, Brian Pillman Jr, and Davey Boy Smith against The Dynasty of MJF, Richard Holliday, and Alex Hammerstone in a tables match. All these guys are tremendous performers and they tore the house down.
The main event was LA Park vs. Pentagon Jr., which was also nothing to scoff at. Now here is where I went a little off the rails. After MLW, I hopped in an Uber across town to go see Kaiju Big Battel. This show started at midnight, so you know it is a little out there. This is something you have to see to believe and is one of the most extreme examples of what wrestling can be. Kaiju Big Battel’s whole premise is that the wrestlers are actually kaiju. They dress up in giant monster costumes and wrestle in a ring filled with buildings made of wood and cardboard that proceed to get crushed during the match. This was incredibly fun and way off the wall.
This gets a little ridiculous, so you have to really buy in and commit to being in the crowd, to put it in perspective the main story line of the show was in the opening contest Dr Cube, the main villain of the promotion, interrupted with his goons and attacked a giant dust bunny wrestler, Dusto Bunny, with a vacuum and trapped his soul in said vacuum only to have it smashed later in the show by a unicorn named Unicorn Party releasing Dusto Bunny. This was an amazing, goofy, fun time and considering how few shows they actually do, I would go back no questions asked if given the opportunity.
Now onto Friday. I started this one out a little early at a show called “US vs the World,” and as you may have guessed, it featured wrestlers from the US against wrestlers from the rest of the world.
One cool thing about WrestleMania weekend is many of the shows end up following a theme to set them apart.
If you are unfamiliar with Wrestlecon, it is an independent convention which takes place in the city of WrestleMania every year and features vendor rooms where there are people selling figures and memorabilia, as well as indie wrestles and legends signing autographs as well as live wrestling throughout the weekend. This show again was pretty standard, but I did get to see Brian Cage vs Masato Tanaka which was a once in a lifetime opportunity. After this show, I headed into Wrestlecon which is an experience in itself. Imagine a ballroom in a hotel, actually 2 or 3, filled with wrestlers signing autographs. I ended up meeting John Morrison, Taya Valkyrie, VD, Sandman, Al Snow, Pentagon Jr, and Fenix while I was there and got some autographs. It is awesome to be in a room with so many wrestlers and being able to interact with them in that environment. At Wrestlecon 2018 in New Orleans I even ended up on an elevator ride with Teddy Long and Ron Simmons, needless to say the greatest elevator ride of my life.
Now after Wrestlecon, I took a quick break and then headed out to my final show of the day “Joey Janela’s Spring Break.” Now this is probably the most well known independent show of the year and for good reason. This is may be my favorite show I have ever been to. This show was 3 hours of nonstop entertainment straight from the mind of the Bad Boy Joey Janela. This man has a very unique special mind for the business. I don’t know if I have ever been to a show that kept my attention so well and kept the action moving in such a smooth manner. The entire show was a highlight, it was exactly how you would expect a wrestling spring break to be complete with the venue serving a beer called Vince McCahon IPA. The beer was flowing, Hawaiian shirts were everywhere, and it was a party. I can’t even begin to describe the insanity that was this show but highly recommend looking up Invisible man vs Invisible Stan on YouTube. There were wrestlers with no legs, Shinjiro Otani, invisible wrestlers, Orange Cassidy, Taka Michinoku, Jake Atlas, and a lot of light tubes in the main event. It was nuts is all I have to say, and I loved every second of being there.
Saturday was a long day. I started my day out at GCW’s “Orange Cassidy is Doing Something, or Whatever.” This was a great show and had some great matches that were very special. Some matches include a 5 on 5 dodge ball match, a 5 o’clock somewhere match between Session Moth Martina and Nate Webb ending in a double pass out, and the main event a yuletide death match between Nick Gage and Ultra Mantis Black. This show was incredibly fun and had a lot of great comedy involved which you see in little bits on TV but this was a full show of it and it worked, the crowd was definitely involved evidenced by Teddy Hart’s Reading Rainbow which involved Teddy Hart reading a children’s book to the crowd while they hung on every word.
This show was a great start to my day, but I then went to the “G1 Supercad of Honor” put on by NJPW and ROH. This was crazy, so much good wrestling that went nearly 7 hours, almost as long as Mania.
Main evented by Jay White and Kazuchika Okada, this show was a spectacular showing of wrestling that I have nothing bad to say about. The highlights were definitely Guerillas of Destiny v Villain Enterprises v The Briscoes v Los Ingobernables De Japon winner take all ROH and NJPW tag belts and also Marty Scurll v Matt Taven v Jay Lethal for the ROH title in a ladder match. This show was a top tier example of a traditional wrestling show. After this I rushed over to “Joey Janela’s Spring Break part 2”. This show went til nearly 4 in the morning but I was wide awake. The opening contest was LAX AKA PNP in AEW vs THE ROCK N ROLL EXPRESS. I couldn’t believe the match these guys put on. The Rock N Roll Express still got it after all these years, when Ricky Moton Hit a Canadian Destroyer, I nearly lost my mind. But this show went on to one of the strangest and longest main events I’ve ever seen the clusterf--- battle royal. This match included nearly 100 participants entering Royal Rumble style until nearly 4 AM.
My final day in New York was entirely consumed by the show of shows WrestleMania. For anyone who has not experienced this themselves, it is indescribable.
There is no other event that can compare to this magnitude. This weekend I saw shows from 800 people to 80,000, and they were all different and they were all great. If you want to know more about any of these shows don’t worry, I’ll probably touch on many of them later, but in the meantime I definitely suggest getting online and checking some of these promotions or wrestlers I mentioned out.
For my money, I would start with The Hart Foundation vs The Dynasty or Invisible Man vs Invisible Stan. The variety of different things available always continues to surprise me, there is always some new promotion or wrestlers I see online somewhere I need to find out more about.This weekend provides an opportunity for all wrestling to come together for one weekend a year and give the fans something truly special. Even though the territory era is long gone many independent wrestlers are still very much regional performers and WrestleMania weekend provides a venue for some true dream matches.
Follow Jon on Twitter @Badger751