DC Diary: Wrestlemaniac

April 30, 2000
MCI Center
5 p.m.

The view looked pretty good from the cheap seats.

In fact, from where I was standing in the MCI Center watching the World Wrestling Federation’s Backlash Sunday night, I did not pay a cent. So what con did I pull to sneak my way in there? Several friends and I arranged to run a concession stand during the event, with the hope of raising money for our organization. But just between you and me, that was Plan B. Plan A, for me at least, was to manage to see The Rock beat Triple-H for the WWF Heavyweight Title (for you wrestling illiterates, that’s the head good guy vs. the head bad guy for the top prize).

Plan A was to see the return of Stone Cold Steve Austin. Darn it, Plan A was to meet or see any wrestler I could close up. But as I learned in elementary school, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. We had to earn our money (and I had to work my way backstage).

We arrived at MCI Center at 5 p.m. anxiously awaiting the chance to get the good stands – or the stands which sell a lot of chicken fingers, popcorn and nachos, and A LOT of beer.

At a WWF event, along with just about any other event, there is only one big sell. Yes, the so-called Big Time Miller Lite on tap for the wonderful deal of $5.75. After we were assigned to section 117, we met Ms. Darlene, our manager for the night. One thing I never realized was how hard it was to keep track of the money coming in and how easy it was to screw up typing things into the register.

As the gates opened, I felt a bit excited to start work (and even more excited to sneak around). But the customers were so picky – I want nachos with just this salsa, I want a soda with no ice, Can you pour the head off my beer? etc. etc.

However, I learned the sly tricks of the trade: Leaving out a couple of dollars to encourage customers to give tips, chatting with the tipsy customers to bring them back to our stand and sweet-talking customers into buying the Big Time sodas instead of just the regulars. And of course the moral dilemma – the necessity to turn down an offer of a $20 tip by simply saying No I can’t sell you five beers, the law limits you to just two.

Every so often we got a special guest. In fact, I personally sold two Heinekens to NBC’s Meet the Press host Tim Russert, who insisted he was just there because of the kids. Within an hour, I was ready for my break.

Now wearing an MCI Center uniform can get you many places, but unless you find a nice usher, they’re likely to close the curtain in your face. But we managed to find a nice lady who let us watch Edge and Christian take on Degeneration X. But I began to feel guilty watching for 15 minutes, so after a brief break I went back to good old Section 117 and let my coworkers take their break. Then it happened.

It was time to make our halftime money drop-off, which I anxiously volunteered for, hoping that it might just help me get backstage. A security escort walked me to the elevator, as we discussed what might happen later that night.

They’re about to close off backstage because I think someone got hurt, he said. But he was wrong. I knew it, and I called him on it. I knew that the tag team, the Dudley Boys, had managed to powerbomb Trish Stratus through a table after losing their match to Test & Albert (T & A) (In layman’s terms, two thugs hurt a woman – badly).

Now yes, wrestling is fake. But that does not take a way from the fact that Stratus is a beautiful woman, even though she’s what you would call fake. I was told to hustle as I got off the elevator; after all, I did not want to be on film (or did I? I asked myself mischievously).

After making my money drop, I hustled back to see the cameras rolling in front of my face: Stratus on a Stretcher, T & A running after her, and finally the ambulance pulling away. Then the lights went off, and the cameras faded.

The door of the ambulance opened and out popped Stratus. As T & A checked on her, the former enemies embraced. Then Bubba Ray Dudley said, Hey Trish did I hurt you baby? He picked her up, hugged her and the two tag teams congratulated each other on a great match.

Wrestling may be fake, but what I saw that night was that wrestlers, even the bad guys, are still real people. I may not have met The Rock or Stone Cold, but I at least saw my fair share of action. It was clearly a night to remember for any wrestling fan – that is, until Monday Night Raw …

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