Wrestlemania XXX vs. Game of Thrones Season 4 Premiere

wrestlemania-30

Of all the weekends to go without a major MMA event (sorry, but Kongo pulling at Vitaly Minakov’s shorts for 25 minutes and Minakov’s striking Kongo in the testicles doesn’t cut it), the UFC picked the perfect weekend to go dark.  Between the Final Four and NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway in my own backyard of North Texas, the end of the NBA’s regular season, and Wrestlemania 30, a UFC card would have been a bridge too far.  And this is just the sports (and sports entertainment) arena.  For the dramatic contingent among you, the zombie apocalypse that is Walking Dead Sundays is replaced by the return of Game of Thrones.

My affection for MMA came about as a direct result of following pro wrestling (though that’s a more personal story for another time). My father grew up watching Dory Funk Senior, Jose Lothario, and the AWA in Minnesota.  When as a kid I found out we were moving to Dallas the one saving grace that I was leaving behind friends and family was the knowledge that we would be living in the same Metroplex with the Von Erichs and World Class Championship Wrestling.  It was like living in the same town with Zeus. In my house, pro wrestling fandom was a tradition.

As a child of the 80s, I grew up during the WWF’s expansion from a regional promotion to a national powerhouse, and even through the 90s as a global entity.  However, it’s been 10 years since I last bought a WWE PPV, Wrestlemania, specifically.  Interestingly enough, that card was punctuated with wins by Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero as much as it was by the exits of Brock Lesnar and Bill Goldberg, who would both later try their hands in the MMA world (Goldberg as a commentator for EliteXC and Lesnar as UFC heavyweight champion).

I still watch wrestling off and on on Monday nights, though mostly as a counterbalance for my son.  He loves the spectacle and the characters, and I love his reaction when someone takes a hard bump from a competitor flying through the air.  He suspends his disbelief, and I hope he continues to do so for as long as possible.  I want it to continue to be real to him, damnit even if my household won’t be ordering the PPV this evening.

Brienne of Tarth would own Chyna.

Online, in the brief piece by Steph Daniels, the list of fighters is vocal and resolute. On Twitter, the fight pundits seem to be split between two camps: The Game of Thrones acolytes and the disciples of Wrestlemania (all of the wrestling fans should have gotten a giggle with the acolytes reference).  I cannot deny I am intrigued by the thought of ordering Wrestlemania.  The rumor is that Sting could make an appearance, his first time in the WWE.  Daniel Bryan, who has a thin link to the MMA world, is also competing.  I know my son would get a kick out of seeing a ring full of superstars in a battle royale.  I understand the allure from a spectacle perspective (it’s been thirty years), from the story perspective (will Daniel Bryan finally get the nod), and from the historical perspective (can the Undertaker keep the streak alive). However, I can’t bring myself to by the PPV or the WWE network based upon my sense of nostalgia.

More intriguing to me is the gentle ribbing and barbs one camp has had for the other regarding the others’ choice in Sunday’s entertainment:

Count me in the camp that will be tuning into the goings-on of Westeros simply because of the immediacy.  There are only 10 episodes of Game of Thrones, so there is very little in the way of filler or cooler. Each episode becomes an event, and after the tragedies of season 3, there is a lot to resolve in no short order (when Joffrey finally gets his, please let it be in the slowest and most painful of ways but not before he sends his father/uncle’s head to a pike).   I make no apologies about my choice of poison.  Besides, how are dragons, The Hound, and King Joffrey any different from Ricky the Dragon Steamboat’s dragon, The Undertaker, and Stephanie McMahon Helmsley?  Sure, Daniel Bryan’s beard may be more epic than Jon Snow’s beard, but he knows nothing anyway.  Also, Tyrion Lannister > Hornswaggle.

Hodor!

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