Above, you will see the opening match of WWE's Smackdown World Tour's visit to the Westchester County Center in White Plains, NY. What you see here is a 12 man, Over-the -Top-Rope Battle Royal. The winner of this endeavor (who happened to be a gentleman named, Heat Slayer) got to fight Ezekiel Jackson for the WWE Intercontinental Championship.
I don't know how familiar you are with the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment). I don't even know if anyone actually reads Slimbo's Shelf. I tend to think no one does, but if I do net a reader or two, I imagine him to be a beleaguered graduate student in the wee small hours, lusting after my pointless pontifications on unloved literature to complete some seemingly pointless assignment. (Well, I don't know if that's always the case, but for all you bastards in Warwickshire, UK who had to write about Heinrich Boll, you're welcome!).
So here I am: Slimbo - the lonely voice amid America's saturated fat of ignorance - the man all five of you have pinned your intellectual hopes upon. Now he has created a post on Vince McMahon's evil empire of gratuitous violence.
Well, not exactly. The truth is, my father took me to see wrestling (then called the 'WWF') at the Westchester County Center in 1983. I saw Jimmy 'Superfly' Snuka fight Don "Magnificent' Muroco and at that point, it was the highlight of my existence.
I'm entirely okay with my son watching wrestling. There is, ingrained in every boy's DNA, a need for superhero mythology. Wrestling takes comic books into three dimensional entities, offering a world where there are clear-cut good guys and villains who all battle out scripted bloodless bouts. If I had any complaint with today's incarnation of the WWE, it is that is that there are too many drama side stories and far too much pyrotechnics.
So our recent evening at the Westchester County Center offered a fantastic surprise. I should preface this by saying that the County Center is an ancient building holding only a few thousand seats. In light of the enormity of the WWE, I didn't expect they'd send any wrestlers of note for such a small venue. To my surprise, almost all their main headliners were there - Wade Barrett, Shamus, Ezekiel Jackson, Mark Henry, Heat Slayer and Ted DiBiassi Jr. The evening was capped off with a fantastically scripted match between WWE Heavyweight Champion Christian and the viscerally entertaining Randy Orton (Christian retained the title via disqualification).
But the greatest element of the evening was the simplicity of the setting. There were no excessive video screens and fireworks and the smallness of the venue forced the performers onto the audience. This was most satisfying with the villains whose sneers and shouts of 'shut up!' could be clearly felt by all. Mark Henry even ripped up a sign a small child had made while delivering a glare that could turn blood into ice. It was wonderful. I could close my eyes, and if only the air could have been filled with cigarette smoke, I'd have said it was 1983 all over again.