Last Sunday night at Sun Life Stadium, I attended Wrestlemania 2012 with my wife and 13-year-old daughter.
To be honest, I was not thrilled at all about shleping an hour down and back on a Sunday night to watch the WWE event -- usually I can't endure watching more than 15 minutes of the fake wrestling on television before I switch the channel or walk out of the room.
I reluctantly bought the tickets after making the very stupid mistake of telling my daughter, an avid WWE and John Cena fan, a week before that it was taking place a mere 51 miles away. For days, I endured an unrelenting barrage of teenage begging and whining ("We never do anything really fun") until I finally gave in to her on Friday night.
My cynicism was misplaced. It turned out that the WWE presents an amazing show that is true Americana, full of spectacular displays of showmanship, pyrotechnics, and patriotism.
During the show, I made some other observations about the experience which I would like to share with you:
Arrival at stadium: Forty bucks for parking. I saw $40 signs leading into the parking lot and I thought to myself that it was for either Valet or VIP parking. Nope, it was $40 a car for general parking, not like the $10 for Marlins games or $25 for Dolphin games. OMG.
T-shirts: Watching WWE fans shell out hundreds for t-shirts and other chazerai. Brilliant marketing -- there was no sign of any "Great Recession" anywhere at the stadium that night. Fans were packed 20 to 30 deep at concession stands and walking away with hundreds of dollars in WWE paraphernalia.
Two minutes until show starts: Not used to seeing all seats filled at this stadium. There was a record crowd of 78,363 fans at the event in a stadium that was always practically empty when I attended Marlins games there.
The singing of "America the Beautiful" done beautifully: The rendition plus a great fly-over by F-18s and chants of USA gave me goosebumps. Fireworks go off, sky lights up, crowd is psyched, proud to be Americans. But where was singing of the "Star Spangled Banner?"
Remembering my grand uncle Libel: He was told not to watch wrestling because it raised his blood pressure. He did anyway. Couldn't resist Andre the Giant. On Saturday night, people of all ages were jumping up and down and screaming like my grand uncle used to do in my grandmother's living room.
The wrestlers: Great outfits, great moves -- and great bodies. All the wrestlers, men and women are just weightlifting perfection, which makes me want to have an opportunity to work out in the gym with one.
Cage comes down: Some serious action begins -- crowd alternating screams of "undertaker" and "triple h." Wonder if there is OSHA violation in this setup? Lots of hitting with metal chairs and other objects for kids to watch, but at the end, the two foes and the ref hug and walk out of the ring arm in arm. If only politics could end like this, too.
Finally, Cena: Rise above hate. Good message for Florida. I think about whether Trayvon Martin would have been at stadium if he had lived.
Crowd chanting: Match a draw so far. The drama continues. The epic match of the night goes back and forth, until finally, The Rock, laying motionless in the ring as a mocking Cena prepares to execute a people's elbow, springs to his feet and catches Cena in a pin to the count of three, putting to an end their feud, and the night.
In the end, it was worth the $40 for parking.
Published in the Sun Sentinel on March 5, 2012. Follow Steven Kurlander on Twitter at @kurlykomments and via his blog. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.