Best in the World

My ticket arrived in the mail on a handwritten envelope.  I opened the envelope carefully and inside there was another envelope. Inside that envelope was a professional-looking ticket.  I was all set. I just had to wait for 6 whole weeks.

*        *        *

I stepped out of my car on Boston Street down in the Canton area of Baltimore City.  The heat of the bright sun instantly hit me so I started walking towards the arena.  It was four in the afternoon but the show did not begin until five.  As I walked, I started to see people in wrestling t-shirts walking in the same direction as me.  I walked to the west side of the building where there was already a line that went out the door.

I took my place in line and waited to get into the building and out of the sun.  The line moved quickly and soon I was inside where it wasn’t much cooler.  There was still several people in line in front of me when a staff member called out that those who already had their tickets could just form a line in front of her.  I was suddenly third in line.  The young woman tore my ticket and I walked past into the lobby of the Du Burns Arena.

The Du Burns Arena isn’t anything to write home about.  It is definitely not Madison Square Garden or nearby 1st Mariner Arena. It is a building where events happen.  Basically, it looks like a warehouse where somebody put in an indoor soccer field.  Still, as I looked through the bay windows at the ring and the seats around it, butterflies fluttered in my stomach.  I was looking at the first pro wrestling ring that I had ever seen in person.

I walked down the stairs and into the huge space. Ring of Honor was really only using half of the soccer field.  An announcement came over the loudspeakers that the members of S.C.U.M. were available for autographs at $10 dollars apiece or $40 for all five members. I toyed with the idea of meeting Matt Hardy and Steve Corino but I didn’t feel like ponying up the money.  Still, it was cool to see and I felt myself smile uncontrollably. I was actually at a live wrestling show.

My seats were in the balcony that over looked the ring but since it was still early, I sat in the third row to watch them finish setting up the ring.  I sat there with probably the stupidest, satisfied smile on my face as I watched everything with intense interest.  The ring crew was tightening the ropes and the camera crews were adjusting any last minute wiring and looking over their schedules. At least, that’s what it looked like they were doing.

On the big screen above the wrestler’s entrance, they were playing a mini documentary on the Briscoe Brothers.  The two of them were fighting in the main event.  It was funny and informative and I found myself sitting in the third row and watching.  Little did I know, I was watching that night’s episode of ROH Wrestling.  It was really cool seeing these two guys talking to the camera while driving over the Bay Bridge and various areas around Delaware and Maryland.  It definitely enhanced the story they were trying to tell.

I got to my seat up in the balcony which was really about 6 or 7 feet off the ground but I had front row.  I realized instantly that this was not to be a comfortable seat as the balcony was line with long wooden benches.  Still, I had a great view and I figured that I would be standing up every so often anyway.  I definitely ended up being correct in that assumption.

The announcer, Bobby Cruise, fired up the crowd and the pay-per-view began.  I will not bore the reader with a rundown of each match and my reaction.  I really did enjoy the show.  As one would expect, it was very different watching in person.  Without the camera to guide my point of view, I could look at anything and everything.  There is a lot that the camera misses.

There was a lot of interaction between the crowd and the wrestlers that you cannot hear or see on the broadcast.  There is a lot of camaraderie in the audience.  The pack mentality of any sporting event takes over and soon you’re on your feet and chanting next to everybody else. Tradition is important, throwing streamers and toilet paper as wrestlers enter is a must.  There was just a huge positive atmosphere in the place despite the sweltering heat caused by the bright lights and mass of humanity.

After the show, I drove home from the arena and I couldn’t believe how much adrenaline I had flowing through my body.  I was still excited and had to pay extra attention to my driving.  Afterwards, I could not believe how tired I was. I had been a spectator but I had left my seat repeatedly, waving my arms and yelling at the top of my lungs.

The show was absolutely great.  I will definitely consider going to the next taping when ROH comes back into town. I would love to go with other people but nobody I know likes pro wrestling.  Oh well, I’ll continue with my private fandom.

*               *                 *

Below is a shot from the broadcast of Best in the World.  In the foreground is Mike Bennett and BJ Whitmer in the opening bout.

In the yellow circle in the background is me.

Image

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