Before I get started…
I swear to God, or Darwin, or Mick Foley… If the ending to WrestleMania’s marquis match-up leaked and a comment section troll (not a respectful commenter with an opinion–a troll) spoils it for me, I will pull a “Jay and Silent Bob” and find you and quite possibly Nation Stomp you into bolivian.
But I digress…
I’ve got a belly full of Taco Bell, some sleep comin’ on, my dog is curled up into a ball across the living room for me, and I’ve got 8 hours of work tomorrow standing between me and an epic weekend that will have the following activities:
1- Friday nite I’m going to see the best cover band in the entire world, Drop Dead Sexy (www.dropdeadsexy.com) at the Farmingdale Nutty Irishman.
2- Saturday afternoon I’m going to visit my friend Dom, his brother Bob Smith, and Dom’s son Nicholas (my happy thought).
3- Saturday evening I’m co-hosting something that has been dubbed, “The Feast of Saint Larry III: Feast Harderer–The Travels of Saint Larry.” Basically, March usually sucks so we decided to throw an annual dinner party for our main and extended groups of friends based upon the Saint we determined watched over us and did stuff like make my hot friend Vanessa finally make out with me back in late summer 2010.
4- Saturday nite it’s a Drop Dead Sexy encore at the Bay Shore Nutty Irishman for my friend Connie’s birthday.
5- Sunday afternoon has a trip to the movies on the agenda. My father and I will be partaking in “Wrath of the Titans,” and if you’re one of those uber-critical, snarky movie-hatin’ types, go thataway—>
6- Sunday evening is WrestleMania XXVIII, hosted at my house. I will have on my brand new Boots 2 Asses shirt and will be cheering on the great one.
(Now THAT’S a segue!)
Throughout my life, I have suffered some pretty heinous defeats. Losses I’ll never get over, be they actual losses or just carry the perception of being a loss. I’m going to take you through the Top 10 Most Painful Ls I’ve Taken, and then proceed.
Here… we go.
#10- The Monster Squad: Frankenstein Gets Sucked Into Limbo. You have to be a heartless bastard to not get a little emotional when ol’ Frank gets sucked into the swirling vortex of purgatory while little Phoebe pleads, “Please don’t go Frankenstein! Don’t go away!” and then throws Scraps (her stuffed dog) at him so he has company. I… We…
#9- Star Wars: The Prequels. Now, here’s where I’m gonna lose some of you. I loved the prequels. I waited over a decade for more Star Wars. I wanted the entire saga. I wanted new moments with the Jedi. I wanted to return to the wonderful world of the Force, of Yoda, of Good vs Evil. When Episode I came out in 1999, sure, I thought Anakin was a little off and Jar Jar was annoying, but it couldn’t dampen my enthusiasm. Episodes II and III had other moments that I thought were a little cheesy, a little forced, but ultimately I got what I wanted: More Star Wars. Alas, I’m in the minority. People hate the prequels, and their hatred has diminished their enthusiasm for the Original Trilogy. Hell, just tonite, TMZ (and that fucking blonde surfer tool bag who I really, really want to DDT on cement) was bashing Star Wars and George Lucas. So, while this isn’t a loss, per se, the perception and overall opinion is that they were bad, and that hurts my feelings. Poodoo.
#8- Quantum Leap: The Series Finale. So… Wait… Sam never leaps home? Ever??? I’m gonna need a minute.
#7- Backstreet Boys vs *N’Sync. A quick background: My BFF Danny’s sister LOVED the Backstreet Boys. She was one of those girls whose AOL screen name was a tribute to A.J. McLean. She had posters everywhere. She was obsessed. Ob. Sessed. Danny is an appreciator of Adult Contemporary Music, and that’s basically what Backstreet did. They sang love songs that made people happy without getting too goofy (key word: “Too”). Plus, they could *actually* sing. They harmonized acapela at the drop of a dime (literally on an episode of TRL) and were great. Danny was also the only one with a car back then and the driver controlled the radio. The rest of us got hooked and we had a non-ironic, genuine appreciation for the Backstreet Boys. Then… *sigh* Then Lou Pearlman decided two boy bands were better than one, and we got stuck with *N’Sync. Justin Timberlake and his crew of Fugs sang cheesy, dated songs (“Digital Get Down,” anyone?) and every one of them sounded like they went through something I’ve since dubbed, “The Pooka Cheeka Machine.” G’on and listen to a song from “No Strings Attached” or “Celebrity.” Every beat sounds like “Pooka Cheeka Pooka Cheeka.” Anyway, I also had an ex that loved *N’Sync and thought they were better even though they didn’t have the singing talent Backstreet did and didn’t sing songs as good as Backstreet sang. We argued about this every so often to the point where I swear she was just being passive aggressive and attacking me thru boy band rivalry. Also, she’s an ex. Fanute THAT.
#6- The Rock vs Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania X-8. Wait ’til #1. Just wait.
#5- Knicks vs Pacers, Game 7 of the 1995 NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals: The Finger Roll Game. I became a Knicks fan during the 1992 Playoffs. The kids in my sixth grade class were all talking about basketball and I paid attention, and seeing as how I’ve always been baffled at how people can support teams they aren’t close geographically (unless they’re stuck in a state with no pro teams like friggin’ Wyoming or something), I became a New York Knicks fan (I’m on Long Island). My love for the Knickerbockers grew over the next couple of seasons and by the time the 1994-1995 season came around I was completely and totally emotionally invested. We went 55-27 that season (and I didn’t even google that) and defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round of the playoffs, 3-1, to set up a matchup with our arch rival Indiana Pacers. Indy won the first game (the infamous game where Reggie Miller hit two threes in 30 seconds to steal home court advantage) and the Knicks were down 3-1 in a best of seven before winning games five and six. Game 7 was at home–Madison Square Garden. Anyway, we’re down two points with time winding down, and Patrick Ewing (our team captain and leader) had the ball. I wasn’t too worried, Patrick had hit a huge shot in Game Five to give us the lead and we ultimately won. Ewing got into the paint, made his move, finger rolled the ball… and it bounced off the back of the rim. Game over. Pacers win. That spring of 1995, I was in 9th grade. 9th grade was self contained in its own building. It was miserable. Frontrunners had attached themselves to the Orlando Magic and took delight in the loss of the Knicks and mocking their faithful supporters. Going into school the day after The Finger Roll just plain sucked. *glares* Let’s just move on.
#4- The Wonder Years: Series Finale. Wait… So Kevin and Winnie are on again, off again, on again, off again… And he gets a job working at the same country club she’s in… And he goes to see her… AND SHE’S CHEATING ON HIM!?!? Okay. Okay. They’ll work this out. It’s the series finale. Wait… Wait… Daniel Stern is narrating the finale… Let me listen close…
“…Winnie left the next summer to study art history in Paris. Still, we never forgot our promise. We wrote to each other once a week for the next eight years. I was there to meet her when she came home, with my wife and my first son – eight months old. Like I said, things never turn out exactly the way you planned.”
WHAT? ARE YOU FUCKING SERIOUS? SIX YEARS OR SOMETHING AND THEY DON’T EVEN GET TOGETHER? THEY COULDN’T EVEN GIVE ME THAT? THEY COULDN’T EVEN GIVE ME THAT!?!?!?!?
#3- The Pursuit of ___: June 2002-December 2002. She had pretty blue eyes, a tremendous backside, and was a ridiculously good kisser. She went on a break from her boyfriend. I stepped in. We had a few awesome encounters at parties, including my birthday party where things got goin’ nice-like. She was sweet, she was thoughtful, and she liked to cuddle. Then, a week and change after that birthday party, and literally THE DAY AFTER SHE SPENT THE NIGHT AT MY HOUSE, she tells me she’s getting back together with her exboyfriend. This was August 2002. They’re together for two months and I’ve never been more depressed. I was in pursuit of her for half a year–the chase started in January ’02. Then, in October 2002, they break up. Whoa! Theysa broken up! Her and I hang out some more, some cuteness, some cuddles, lots of AIM conversations that I might still have on an old computer somewhere, and maybe two or three days before Christmas 2002, we exchange gifts. I swag her out. She gives me a chain and charm. Still have the chain (it has since been cleaned of evil). Then, on Christmas Day 2002, two days before my group’s next party (A Pajama Jammy Jam Guy Auction–I went for Sixty Yahoo Bucks, worth slightly more than republic credits, worth slightly less than a pod racer), she tells me that she is, once again, getting back together with her exboyfriend. The pursuit lasted throught 2002, ten years ago, and can be accurately looked at as the last time I ever trusted girls. Sad, but true.
#2- Donkey Pong vs Dan & Heather: Round 2 of the 7th Annual Yahoo Invitational Beer Pong Tournament, 2011. *sigh* It’s me and my friend Bob Smith vs my friend Dan and my friend Heather. It’s their first tournament. I’d previously won four of the six we had already had. We talked endless amounts of crap all year, and it’s come down to this: We are up 2 cups to 1. We trade shots. We trade shots. Finally, Dan hits one of our cups. Tie game. We trade shots. We trade shots. We trade more shots. We trade even more shots. I take a shot and I see the ball go into the cup, spin around a bit, high-five the Coors Light inside, and then spin out. A couple of turns later, Dan has the ball. He shoots. He scores. We rebut. We miss. We lose. I decide to get very drunk. My awesome and supportive friend Briana flashes me. I go home. Let me tell you this: It took me HOURS to get out of bed the next day. Hours. I kept seeing my shot miss and his shot go in. I was crushed. I understand, Patrick. Believe me, I understand.
#1- Hulk Hogan vs The Ultimate Warrior at WrestleMania VI: The Ultimate Challenge. This is, without a shaddaofadobut, the worst defeat I’ve ever suffered. There have been break-ups. There have been layoffs. There have been friend defections. There have been Championship Game losses. Nothing… Nothing hurt worse than this. In fact, I’m convinced that this is my “Marty races against Needles and crashes into a Rolls Royce” moment. If Hulk Hogan would have won, my life would’ve turned out drastically different. Backstreet would be looked at as superior. 2002 Girl would have picked me. I’d have won the beer pong tournament. Sam Beckett would have leapt home. Kevin and Winnie would have gotten back together. Patrick would have made that finger roll. The prequels would be looked at with joy and reverence. Frankenstein might’ve still got sucked into limbo, but there might’ve been some fan fiction that said he was really happy and Phoebe still dreamt about him and was also happy. And maybe The Rock wouldn’t have defeated Hulk Hogan in Toronto 12 years later. But that’s not what happened. Hogan missed the leg drop. The Ultimate Warrior hit the big splash. My father read us the results in the New York Daily News’ wrestling column, “The Slammer.” My childhood hero lost to a man I just knew wasn’t better than him. Hulk Hogan lost The Ultimate Challenge.
The scene, as they say, has been set.
Suspension of Disbelief begins… Now!
Sometimes our losses end up defining us more than our victories do. Sometimes coming in second place (or worse) stays with you forever and you can’t shake that stigma. Every setback, every opportunity that goes awry… They take a toll to the point where you begin to wonder if your victory is ever coming. Sometimes it ain’t that serious and you simply back the wrong horse. Either way, the images of coming up short burn into your mind and the memory still causes you to wince whether the disappointment occurred fifteen seconds ago or fifteen years ago.
This Sunday is WrestleMania XXVIII and on the go home episode of Raw, John Cena said that he is going to win. That made me clench my teeth and bristle. Then it made me think. What if John Cena is right?
What if The Rock loses?
What if this incredible ride that started on Valentine’s Day 2011 comes to a screeching halt this Sunday, with The Rock receiving an Attitude Adjustment and losing in his hometown?
What happens then?
What happens if clanging and banging, training like a beast wasn’t good enough?
What happens if putting boots to asses wasn’t enough to put down his opponent?
What if the leader of Team Bring It–a family and faction I believe in and helps keep me motivated to keep striving to achieve the positive desires of my heart–fails to win?
What if, around 10:45pm, 10:50pm on Sunday, April 1st, 2012, The Rock has failed and his Best wasn’t Good Enough?
If that happens, this entire run comes to a close. The incredible surprise of the announcement that he was hosting WrestleMania XXVII will end with, “…but then he lost.” His triumphant returns on Raw and his tag team win at Survivor Series will end with “…but then he lost.”
See, that’s the dirty little secret about losses like that, why playoff defeats and rejections from girls hurt so much. The pain of the final buzzer or whistle? The pain of hearing, “I think we should just be friends?” While they are extremely painful, the real hurt comes from the time you invested in hoping and wishing and praying going for naught. The hours you spent watching the games, the money you spent on pennants and posters, tickets and t-shirts, all feel like testaments to losses. The songs that reminded you of her, the date nights, the movies you enjoyed together, monuments to a dream that will never come to fruition.
The time you spend believing and hoping that your hero will triumph to prove that your way of life is good and will emerge victorious and worthy… Dissolving into the haze of routine, with only reflection and disappointment as remnants of a once-promising time.
This Sunday at WrestleMania, it won’t just be The Rock vs John Cena. It’ll be my 2nd Place Complex being put to the test. My uncanny ability to root for the eventual runner-up. My unfortunate status as the runner up.
And the thing is, this isn’t about entertainment for me. This isn’t just another thing that happened that time back on some day. Sure, it’s a work and it’s all fake, but this is SUSPENSION OF DISBELIEF, and The Rock vs John Cena, Team Bring It vs the CeNation is about much, much more.
It’s about hitting the brakes and stopping the momentum of the future, something that will win-out eventually. It’s about having what you remember and what you love reign one more time. It’s about having one last moment of feeling like your time is significant. It’s about being given what you want and love instead of being told what you should want and love. THAT’S what this match means. Is it fake? Not to me. Not one damned bit.
Give ’em hell, Rock.
Boots 2 Asses.
This has been Suspension of Disbelief.
Rey Mundo (@ElKatook) Reycommends: Chipotle, The Hunger Games movie, Spooning, The College Dropout, and Massages. Word.