Sunday, March 23, 2014

Prologue to Mania

This past November, I decided to write a countdown of every Wrestlemania match that has ever occurred.

A little background.

The germ of the idea formed this fall, when Buzzfeed ran a countdown of every single episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. As friends and followers may well know, after a cappella, creative writing, and pro wrestling, the Whedonverse is quite competitive with The Muppets, The Counting Crows catalog, and and 1990s NBA basektball for my fourth most powerful area of obsession. Thus, this countdown offered a fun, reasonably concise way in which to revisit the rich history of my all-time favorite television series, and I really appreciated the comprehensive nature of the article--besides which, I enjoy speculating, critiquing, and exploring expansive ranked lists.

That I subsequently decided to rank Wrestlemania matches isn't a huge leap. Wrestlemania is a WWE institution that has coincided pretty precisely with my own life's journey--Wrestlemania 1 happened when I was one year old, and the show has recurred every single year since, thus my age always matches the year of the Wrestlemania. That's more than a fun bit of trivia, but also symbolically reflects the fact that I grew up in the era of Vince McMahon leading the wrestling world. I've lived through the original days of pay per view wrestling, through Hulkamania, through the Attitude Era and the Monday Night Wars, through Wrestlemania stadium shows, into the debut of the new WWE Network. I'm a wrestling fan who has experienced it all--but also knows little but the wrestling world as created and externally impacted by Vincent Kennedy McMahon.

So, I embarked on the journey of ranking every Wrestlemania match--not just a countdown but writing up my thoughts on every individual bout, including thoughts on the in-ring action, the lead up to matches, and the matches' historical implications. At first, the process was fun and easy. Out of 287 matches, there were a good hundred or so that I remembered well and could write about off the cuff, summing some of the briefer, less significant matches in a paragraph or two and dedicating a page or two to some of my truer favorites.

Then came the rest. There were pleasant surprises like bouts between The Big Boss Man and Mr. Perfect or Camp Cornette and the team of Jake Roberts, Ahmed Johnson, and Yokozuna that I had all but forgotten but were pretty wonderful pieces of business. Then there were the doldrums--David Sammartino vs. Brutus Beefcake or the bevy of sub-five-minute women's matches that offered little to entertain me, and little of obvious value for me to say in my commentaries.

Still, I stuck to it. I watched all of the matches I couldn't remember well, as well as many of the ones I did remember, for the sake of generating a more objective opinion of them--not overly swayed by the positive swell of nostalgia or the fact that I was tired or in a bad mood the first time I saw a given match. Over a period of four months, I generated reviews of every single Wrestlemania match--totaling a little over 67,000 words (218 double-spaced pages, using one-inch margins and twelve-point Times New Roman font).

In the weeks to follow, I edited, revised, and proofread. All the more so, I shuffled my rankings to make the best feasible effort I could at arriving at a final, definitive ranking.

I'm proud of the final product. Yes, it proved more of a time investment, and resulted in a much longer document than I originally anticipated--arguably unwieldy for the web format. It also feels like a worthy contribution to the pro wrestling world, from me, a humble fan, leading up to one of the biggest nights in the history of the business--the thirtieth annual Wrestlemania.

So, tomorrow, I'm rolling out my ranked countdown of every Wrestlemania match on this blog and, if all goes as planned, on Buzzfeed. I appreciate your support in checking out the list, and if you like it, spreading the word. Happy Wrestlemania season, everyone.

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