Road to Wrestlemania

20 03 2010

About a month ago the most electrifying editor in chief in all the land (Jon Mays) asked me if I wanted to write a preview for a World Wrestling Entertainment event coming to the Bay Area.

Uhhh, does Elmer Fudd have trouble with the letter R? 

Here then, is the end result. Shout out to my boy Mike for volunteering his story for the, uhh, story, and to Joe Villa at WWE corporate for his help. You can read the story at http://bit.ly/aXjRxN if you prefer.

Road to Wrestlemania makes stop in Bay Area
By Julio Lara Daily Journal Staff
South San Francisco resident Michael Arce recalls his favorite Wrestlemania moment with a sense of nostalgia. 

It was in the waning minutes of Wrestlemania X-Seven after Stone Cold Steve Austin pinned The Rock following a couple of steel chair blasts that World Wrestling Entertainment owner Vince McMahon and Austin shared beers and shocked the wrestling world by becoming allies. “To me, it was wrestling’s version of Luke Skywalker being told by Darth Vader that he was his father,” Arce said. “No one saw that coming. It was freaking crazy.”

Arce, a 27-year old man raised in the Bay Area, isn’t alone — sure he may have outgrown “wrestling” just a tad, but when presented with the opportunity to attend his first Wrestlemania a little over a week from now in Glendale, Ariz., the chance to relive that nostalgia was too great to pass up.

But before then, the road to Wrestlemania 26 will make a stop in San Jose, as WWE presents Monday Night Raw, their premiere cable telecast televised from the HP Pavilion. It’s a chance for fans of the sports entertainment spectacle to check out these unique athletes before they perform in front of an estimated 70,000 people at University of Phoenix Stadium in Arizona.

Things have certainly changed for WWE throughout the years. Allegations of steroid use marred with violent incidents that led to deaths of superstars like Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrerro not too long ago have darkened an already negative image of what World Wrestling Entertainment does. And for fans like Arce, the sun has set on the majority of the superstars with whom he grew up. 

But there is something lasting about McMahon and his form of entertainment that keeps those in the 25- to 40-year old demographic interested enough to want to be, at the very least, in the know.

And while on television, gone are the days of Hulk Hogan, the vitamins and the prayers, it’s memories of those times that lead fans young and old to get excited about Raw and Wrestlemania.

“If you grow up with the WWF (now the WWE) it never really leaves,” he said. “And one of the things that has always been there is Wrestlemania. It’s like, the Super Bowl. I mean, even if you don’t follow football all the time, you want to know who’s playing in the Super Bowl. That’s how it is with Wrestlemania.”

Monday’s show in San Jose will be the last for the WWE superstars leading up to Sunday March 28 and that can present interesting scenarios. In the past, the final shows leading up to Wrestlemania Sunday are the ones that try to instill the most drama in anticipation of the big day — a week-long cliff hanger so to speak.

“For me, it’s the feeling of being a kid again,” Arce said. “Back in the day, it was a show I could watch with my family and sink myself into. It’s always a lot of fun.” 

The WWE universe has been abuzz lately over some of the matches that will take place at Wrestlemania. Bret “The Hitman” Hart will face McMahon in a match no wrestling fan ever thought they would see given their shaky history (see: The Montreal Screwjob). On last week’s episode of Raw, Hart beat McMahon with a leg cast after they both signed a contract to fight at Wrestlemania. That night also marked the return of Austin to the show he owned for the better part of a decade.

Another storyline in the discussion is legendary figures Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker set to face each other in a re-match of their epic battle at Wrestlemania XXV. The two have tangled in the past, most notably in the first ever Hell-in-a-Cell match that to this day is regarded as one of the best wrestling matches of all time. 

“I’m expecting to see one of the greatest matches I have ever seen live or in person,” Arce said. “It will be interesting to see what they do with this (story) on Monday.”

Pete Rose, former Major League baseball star and member of the WWE Hall of Fame, will be the special guest host for Raw on Monday. Rose is no stranger to the squared-circle, having appeared in three Wrestlemanias, mixing it up all three times with some of the largest wrestlers on the WWE roster.

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