Monday, April 3, 2017

#thankyoutaker

This blog is, for the most part, about video games. The vast majority of my leisure time is dedicated to it, I have been doing it for a long time and I know enough about it to be, on occasion, jaded as fuck. I am not a 'fan' of video games, I am a somewhat bemused addict.

Wrestling, though, I am just a fan. A fair weather fan who knows just enough to be interested but not so much that I am never surprised. I do not follow wrestling in a very comprehensive manner. In fact my interest is limited to around two pay per views a year, maybe three is there is a promise of good beer and spicy wings. Last night was one of the two: Wrestlemania.

I don't think I have missed a Wrestlemania in a long, long time. There have been good ones, some bad ones, a lot of mediocre events (like last night) but all of them had one thing in common: The Undertaker had a match. Not all of them were good, in fact they peaked in 2012 and quickly declined after, but they man had been doing it since 1991 so I, and just about everyone else, cut him some slack.

Last night his match against Roman Reigns more resembled an old man being beaten up by some young punk high on meth than an actual wrestling match. Not quite a squash match but not a good time to behold. It was obvious where this was going - this was Undertaker's curtain call and he was doing the right thing: putting some younger talent over.

(Regardless of anyone's feeling about Roman, this was the right thing to do.)

My little group of four had moved from paying close attention to making fun of things about an hour before the match started. It was a long ass event and there had been a little drinking. We perked back up for the main event but one sidedness was not compelling. Roman won, his pyro went off, and he left. Undertaker did not move. He laid flat on his back for quite some time.

Someone joked 'check his breathing, the old man had a heart attack.'

Eventually he sat up and was handed his hat and coat. He took one step through the ropes, stopped, and turned back. Then did this:


Oh shit. It's actually happening. There had been rumours of his retirement for years, but this... No one was ready for this. He took his sweet time leaving the ring, stopped to break character (something that never fucking happens) to kiss his wife at ringside, and began the long, slow walk up the ramp. His face softened, his eyes widened and then he was gone, vanished in a cloud of smoke.

No one in the room spoke. Someone, maybe me, cleared his throat and sniffed.

Undertaker was the oldest of the old guard, respected by everyone in the industry and adored by fans new and old. His gimmick was and is ridiculous but still worked. It had worked since 1990 when he first appeared. And now he is done.

Wrestlers do not usually retire well, Hulk Hogan and Rick Flair (and Terry Funk and Mick Foley and Jerry Lawler) have remained ring active much longer than they should have. Undertaker probably should have done this a few years ago, but the difference is that he is not coming back. No comebacks, no behind the mic work, nothing. He gave it is all and now he is going to walk away.

The arena emptied and the crew started to break the set down. There was something that no one wanted to touch, a little shrine to an ended era:


Wrestling is cool.

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