Volume 95, Issue 88

Wednesday, March 20, 2002
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Wrestling's a religion - "because Minto says so."

Get out the trusty fly swatter

Wrestling's a religion - "because Minto says so."

By Grant Donaldson
Gazette Staff

When I was very young, I was faced with a decision that would affect my entire life – go to church or sit on the couch in my pygamas and watch the World Wrestling Federation.

The choice was as clear then as it is now and I've had no need for religion ever since.

Fast Forward to Mar. 17, 2002...

After a short journey to Toronto, I find myself within sight of the Skydome, the promised land of the moment. Only one obstacle stands in the way – thousands of rowdy fans.

After an hour and a half lined up in the bitter cold, my sanity is only preserved only through group chants of various wrestler's names and catch phrases. Finally, after 24 years of waiting and dreaming, I burst through the turnstile into my greatest fantasy.

After paying $30 for a WWF t-shirt that likely costs less than five to produce, I take my seat (but only the edge of it.)

The lights dim and the national anthem is overlooked – so much for respect and tradition. My mind races with memories of rubber wrestlers and timeless matches fought in the basement. Then, without warning – the fireworks erupt, the crowd roars and I cry – one solitary tear containing a lifetime of anticipation and an eternity of joy.

The lights brighten and I find myself sinking into a sea of Bristol-board signs, most of them describing which wrestlers 'rule' and which ones 'suck.' One sign in particular catches my eye. "FREE KITTENS" it says – what an odd place to distribute felines.

The matches progress much as expected. The crowd "oohs" and "ahhs" as the modern day gladiators bloody and bruise each other with a limitless arsenal of headlocks and clotheslines. The seemingly indifferent mob chants and cheers for whoever the rest of the flock applauds, which is usually the titan who has the upper hand at the time.

What is astounding is the ease with which WWF CEO Vince McMahon has brainwashed a group of over 68,000.

The record-breaking crowd is not entirely what you'd expect. There are no mullets, no fights and only a few folks drunk to the point of incoherence. The wrestling dorks, however, are out in full force. We discuss how each bout will affect the grand soap opera scheme and make references to matches that haven't been discussed for decades.

Then the talk ceases and the stadium fills with familiar music, as Hulk Hogan takes the stage. If the roof of the Skydome were to be launched into the middle of Lake Ontario from the sheer magnitude of fanfare, I wouldn't be surprised in the least.

The Hulkster is received as enthusiastically as he was in his prime, 15 years ago. An audience that would be licking The Rock's boot on any other day, are calling for his blood.

The masses have spoken, but their wishes will not be granted on this eve. The dust clears and The Rock stands victorious, surviving even the dreaded Hogan leg drop. The two icons shake hands and the fans delight in what has likely been the greatest show of their lives.

Exhausted, the crowd further pushes the limits of their tortured vocal chords for the main event. My heart races and my lungs explode as Triple H – my favourite wrestler of all time – battles the odds to regain the championship he so badly deserves.

As the multitudes dissipate, I feel mentally prepared to eat my vitamins, be true to myself and defeat all of life's challenges, one-two-three. Although I am now $200 poorer and my voice and hearing may not be normal for a week – it's impossible to put a price on the mental checkmark etched on my list of childhood dreams.

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Copyright The Gazette 2002