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Tag Archives: Wrestlemania
His name is a curse word in the WWE. His image has been expunged from its history by the company’s ministry of truth. And yet, his specter haunted professional wrestling’s grandest stage this time last year, and he’s lurked in the back of my mind ever since.
Though I have long since lapsed as a professional wrestling fan, I still pay yearly homage to the sporting spectacle of Wrestlemania, the Super Bowl of professional wrestling. Each annual supercard features clashes between the WWE’s biggest stars and the climax of its most significant storylines. Last year, the 30th edition of the once-ragtag-but-now-storied event featured Daniel Bryan, a lean, if scrappy wrestler, known for his technical prowess and enthusiastic affirmations, but who stands as far more diminutive than many of his larger-than-life colleagues, much as Benoit did. Bryan’s path to the main event embraced two of the most time-honored archetypes in professional wrestling: the underdog and the rebel.
It’s March 20th, 1999. I’m twelve years old, and I’m at an arena in Austin, Texas to see the World Wrestling Federation put on a show. My dad marvels at how Kane, a wrestler who’s billed at seven feet tall, towers above his competitors. He’s graciously tolerating this event on my behalf. I don’t realize it at the time, but this show is largely a dress rehearsal for Wrestlemania 15, which is only a week away. Still, I’m dressed for the occasion.
I have a foam championship belt slung over my shoulder. I’m wearing a pair of cheap sunglasses I picked out at the corner drug store. I’ve taken a magic marker and drawn a pair of long sideburns on my prepubescent face. I do my best impression of his demeanor, his strident presence, his swagger. I’ve spent hours looking in the mirror, trying to keep one eyebrow raised over the other. I have every one of his catchphrases memorized and ready to be deployed at a moment’s notice. It’s all I can do to imitate my favorite wrestler — The Rock.