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Oh, You Better Believe We Went to the WWE Wrasslin’ Thing

A night of CHAMPIONS at the Mercedes Benz arena as the WWE comes to Shanghai. WOOO!
Last updated: 2016-09-13
It is a little-known urban legend -- only repeated, in fact, in hushed and reverent whispers in shadowy boardrooms and at the end of darkened corridors -- that there exists at the edge of Atlanta, Georgia, USA, a dank and sunless network of catacombs that snake underneath the abandoned and overgrown Antebellum fields like buried lightning.

At the center of this network of catacombs squats a grim and murky alcove -- a dark and sadistic dungeon, really, it must be said -- that houses an ancient and primordial secret. A primary evil. There exists a Great Wheel, my friends. There exists a Great Wheel constructed in human skin and bones, drenched in pig's blood, and etched in a forgotten tongue known to only a handful in the world.

The wheel is known to one and all as the “Great Wheel of Random Western Culture Bullshit We Can Try To Sell to China This Week, Heyyyy Why Not”.

Once a week, dark priests representing the great houses of yore -- Disney, Viacom, Warner Bros., Fox, Taylor Swift, Paramount -- descend on the wheel, shrouded in black robes and corpse ash, to enact their cultish ritual. Ceremonial drums pounding in the deep. Boom. Boom. Boom. They pray to arcane and pagan gods, and writhe among each other in a chaotic and sybaritic mass of flesh and sex-fluid, before joining together in demonic chorus of intertwining screams -- spinning the Great Wheel to determine what shall be thrust on China’s entertainment alter this week.

Spin, oh ancient wheel! Will it be Disneyland? Will it be the X-Men franchise? A bagel trend? EDM music? Spin, oh great wheel! Spin! Will it be Angelina Jolie? A bunch of oyster restaurants? AIDA: The Musical? On what shall it stop, no one knows.

Long story long, the Great Wheel stopped on WWE Pro Wrestling last Saturday. The earth cracked open in Pudong and John Cena emerged from the hell fire into the Mercedes Benz Arena. And it was good, my friends. Oh, it was good.

I would even go so far as to call it, totally bitchin'.

”For the millllionnnsss…..” - The Rock

The squared circle was set up in the middle of the area with a big runway cutting a swath through the crowd that the WWE superstars would make their entrances on. Classic. Big flatscreen hovering in the air as if by magic over the ring. Big sweeping spotlights cutting arcs into the air and swooshing over the crowd. Attendance was pretty good. The cheap seats looked entirely sold out, as did the first class tickets right at ringside.

I was in the Jameson VIP booth because that’s just the kind of bastard I am. We got a bird’s eye view of the action, plus the option to DDT 40rmb beers and bottles of Jameson and Ballantine's.

Match 1: Cesaro defeats Sheamus

I missed this one because I was doing that whole what-the-hell-gate-are-we-supposed-to-be-at thing and was waiting for someone inside to run out with my ticket. That’s on me. That’s my bad. I’ve heard of Sheamus. This is him.

I think he’s famous for having skin that looks like the belly of a porcelain snake. It’s mesmerizing. Guess he lost. Hope he can bounce back. Unless he’s a bad guy these days then BOO SHEAMUS YOUSUCKDIEDIEDIE.

Match 2: Neville defeats Curtis Axel

Smoke break. And aye, here’s the thing, Shanghai. It’s been about 15-20 years since I watched wrestling, so I didn’t know who 80% of these dudes were. Curtis Axel? The fug?

Match 3: Tian Bin (Bin Wang) defeats Bo Dallas

Tian Bin (aka Bin Wang) is China’s rep for the WWE; a personified consolatory gesture to the 9.23058325 billion Chinese people that might become wrasslin’ fans one day. Surprise, surprise, our man was able to pull out the W against some dude called “Bo Dallas”, who is as inscrutable to me as the kind of calculus it would require to prevent an asteroid from smashing into the earth.

Here’s a picture of some men with world domination in their eyes:

Match 4: Braun Strowman defeats Goldust

Oh my god, Goldust! Goldust! What an awesome surprise. I remember Goldust. His wrestling gimmick was gay panic! He has a thing for Razor Ramon back in the day. Man, seeing him wrestle was truly a blast from the past. He was one of my fav’s. So, this match was him basically getting the shit beat out of him by this 6 foot 8, 385-pound legitimate strong man who looked like a monster from Deliverance.

So Strowman beat the bejeezus out of our man Goldust then lumbered off back up the runway to punch horses in the face backstage or whatever it is he does, and Goldust is still in the ring, writhing around in (fake) agony, playing to the crowd. Here’s the thing: On TV, this is when they cut to commercial. But seeing it live, you get to see how the loser leaves the ring. So, Goldust hams it up for a bit, then struggles to his feet, laboriously raises his arm into the air to the crowd, and is met with enthusiastic cheers and applause -- every inch the beaten gladiator, still noble in defeat, covered in glitter. Still the warrior.

This is when I started to get really into it. This wrestling shit rules.

”It’s TIME TO PLAY THE GAME.” - Tripple H.

Match 5: WWE Tag Team Championship: New Day defeated Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows and The Shining Stars

This one was the current Tag Team Champions -- three of them called The New Day -- wrestling against two dudes who wandered off from a Papa Roach concert in 2003 and a little Latino flavor in the form of The Shinning Stars.

The New Days was decked out in neon pastels and really hammed it up for the crowd. They were getting some “New Day ROCKS” cheers. They even had a trombone. Which no one got hit by (ripoff). They were wrasslin’ two extras from Blade 1 who wandered off the Blade set into a time machine and unwittingly ended up in 2016, and some other non-descript dudes. It was pretty good. Pretty spirited. Champions retained their titles. SHOCKER.

Match 6: John Cena defeats Big Show

WWwWWEEeeeeeelllllll, IT’S THE BIG SHOW. Awesome. Awesome-ness. Awesome, awesome, super-awesome-ness. Big Show lumbers to the ring wearing stars and bars tights, and then proceeds to skulk around the ropes all menacing-like, waiting for his opponent like a slightly miffed constipated elephant.

Lights explode, crowd erupts, and John Cena sprints from backstage, down the runway — looking like a FRIGGIN PATRIOT MISSILE — and leaps through the ropes to engage his foe. Think I have a WeChat moment from this bit which is just me screaming at the top of my lungs and having a seizure.

Featuring the two biggest stars in China, this was the most anticipated match. And it was… gah… slowwwww. Two giant dudes, neither attempted anything too dangerous, relying instead on their celebrity and a narrative that John Cena would get his ass lightly dusted at the start and then make a crowd-fueled come back. Big Show moved with the speed and urgency of an Ent on its way home to deliver a poor report card to its Entish parents. He was as mobile as the mobile I accidentally dropped into the communal trough of piss in the bathroom at Windows Scoreboard that one time. (True story.)

It wasn’t all that exciting. Big Show had the upper hand for like 8 minutes and then John Cena picked him up and gave him his signature -- the “Attitude Adjustment” -- for the 1-2-3. That was what we were all there to see anyways, and they delivered, so we can’t complain. Cena also gave him a “you can’t see me” too so that was good.

Match 7: WWE Women’s Championship: Charlotte defeated Sasha Banks to retain

If the last match was Not-The-Rock meeting a Should-Be-Retired-Object, this one made up for it. Charlotte, the current women's champion is actually Ric Flair's real-life daughter which means I'm about 90 years old by my calculations. This one was full of high-flying acrobatics and plenty of drama with the champion playing the heel roll. Relied on this one to steal a bunch of whiskey from the Jameson people because their eyes were glued to the action.


Match 8: Roman Reigns defeats Chris Jericho

They let Y2J get on the mic. It was sweet. Super sweet. He went on and on for like 20 minutes, doing his “I’m not a stupid idiot, you’re a stupid idiot” thing with the crowd. Jerico said he'd never visit China again, which the crowd did not like one bit! It never ever got old. Roman Reigns was in the ring at some point but nobody noticed until he took Jerico's bedazzled scarf and whipped his own armpit with it! The indignity! That's when things KICKED OFF. Good match between these two aging wrasslin' superstars. Reigns won in the end, much to Jericho's chagrin!

You just can't make this stuff up, people.

(Oh, wait.)

Match 9: WWE Universal Championship: Kevin Owens defeats Sami Zayn and Seth Rollins


Was pretty much a gibbering mess of over stimulation at this point. Couldn't even see straight. Everyone was screaming. Lights in my faces. Raveous hunger to buy any merch they might be selling. Fully regressed to being 13 again. In a stupendous three-way match "WWE Universe" champion Kevin Owens (haha, whut) defended his title against Sami Zayn and Seth Rollins. They were flying from the top ropes out of the ring, slamming each other, flying around, doing crazy shit. It. Was. Aces.

So yeah. Back into wrestling again. That's my thing. Come at me!

"And THAT'S the bottom line..." - "Stone Cold" Steve Austin


All photos with this article from the WWE.