Gamer’s Hangover

I must apologize, it’s a bit of a short one this week, so here go some rapid fire pimps: A-Will, Berg, Misha, A.J., Lucard, Parfitt, Eric, Nute, and Murphy.

What Video Games Can Lead To

So it all started back in the 90â┚¬â”žÂ¢s. I had been out of the console scene for a while, but my friends all seemed to have bought N64â┚¬â”žÂ¢s, so even without a console of my own (I was NOT going to be burned like I was with the SNES) I ended up being somewhat exposed to that market again.

Now, when I was growing up, I was a WWF fan of the Hulk Hogan vintage. I watched Rock â┚¬Ëœn Wrestling. I watched Tuesday Night Titans. I also got exposed to a few decent arcade wrestling games. The first was one that was creatively named Pro Wrestling, I think. You had to fight guys with shark masks on (probably the inspiration of todayâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s Shark Boy, although I think this guy was the Piranha â┚¬Â¦ I think), some African-looking dude with a leopard skin named Coco-something who shoulder blocked you into oblivion. Of course, the champion that you had to beat was some guy named Golden Hulk. It was simple, but it was light-years ahead of any other wrestling game to that point (I especially liked that Darth Vader, for some strange reason, was in the crowd). Then there was WWF Superstars, which I also dropped a ton of quarters on. My team was Macho Man Randy Savage and the Big Boss Man. Macho because he had the cool flying lariat/neckbreaker thing that you could actually use on Andre the Giant if you timed it just right, and Big Boss Man because of the kitchen sink knee lift and the sidewalk slam (donâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t try THAT on Andre, though). So video games and wrestling have gone hand-in-hand with me since the beginning.

So, back to the late 90â┚¬â”žÂ¢s. I happened to be in possession of one of my friendsâ┚¬â”žÂ¢ N64s when I went to the video store and saw a WWF game called WWF: Attitude. I thought â┚¬Å”What the hell,â┚¬Â and took it home. And there you are. I eventually graduated to the THQ games that used the strong grapple/weak grapple mechanism instead of the twenty-button-pattern-for-each-move system. As I got deeper into playing the games, I felt somewhat compelled to start watching the TV shows again, which I did just after WWE bought WCW. When WWE No Mercy came out, I was sold for good. Cris and I made character after character after character for that game, and to this day I donâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t know why the Russian Neck Drop they used in that game never made it over to ANY of the next-generation systems. It was the single most brutal looking move in the set and, of course, my traditional finisher.

When Veronica gave me my PS2 for Christmas, it came with one game: Smackdown: Just Bring It. I actually converted her, along the way, to the joys of watching professional wrestling to the point that she says that if she had discovered pro wrestling 10 years earlier than she did, sheâ┚¬â”žÂ¢d probably have become a pro wrestler herself. Weâ┚¬â”žÂ¢ve been on the floor for two house shows, front row for one, and we havenâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t missed a WWE event in Wichita in close to four years.

So, with this backstory, you should then understand why I allowed myself to become a buffet for the northern Sedgwick County mosquito population, and risked life, limb, and sanity to get front row tickets for the Smackdown taping that will be in Wichita on September 28th.

Friday, August 27, 2004. 9:00 p.m. CDT â┚¬” Cris and I are hemming and hawing as to when to go out to the Kansas Coliseum. Partly because weâ┚¬â”žÂ¢re both old and arenâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t quick to give up on sleep, but mostly because of the 700 or so tornadoes in the area that evening. The major storms appear to have died down by this point, but thereâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s still a hell of a lot of lightning about.

10:00 p.m. â┚¬” We decide to brave it and head out to Wal-Mart and get provisions before heading north to the Coliseum. Cris has a blanket and two pillows. I have a pillow. I, obviously, think that Iâ┚¬â”žÂ¢m tougher than I am.

11:15 p.m. â┚¬” Heading to the Coliseum with a battery-powered alarm clock (in case we sleep late), some Oreos, some Chewy Chips Ahoy cookies, bottled water, and two triple cheeseburger meals from Wendyâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s. Of course, bug spray never enters our minds.

11:30 p.m. â┚¬” Parked in front of the Kansas Coliseum in a resurgent thunderstorm. Lightning is lighting up the entire area, and Cris and I are wondering what the hell weâ┚¬â”žÂ¢re doing here. We eat our burgers. Theyâ┚¬â”žÂ¢re so greasy that they leave grease spots on our shorts â┚¬Â¦ THROUGH the paper wrappers. Suddenly, McDonaldâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s doesnâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t sound so evil. The Coliseum parking lot is dark. I donâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t think theyâ┚¬â”žÂ¢ve swapped out bulbs in the parking lot light poles in years. The only lights are one inside the building, and three trained up onto the flagpoles which partially shine in our faces where weâ┚¬â”žÂ¢re parked and thus make everything else look even MORE dark, blurry, and spooky. Thereâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s only one other truck in the parking lot: A Ranger thatâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s empty about four stalls away from us.

11:45 p.m. â┚¬” Rain is really coming down, and the windows are starting to fog up and, just to make things as spooky as humanly possible, we see a flashlight periodically emanating from the corner of the Coliseum. Our first impression is that itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s a security guard, but itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s so far away and things are so blurry that we canâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t tell. The best (worst) part is when the flashlight trains solidly onto the Crisâ┚¬â”žÂ¢ Blazer, with us in it. â┚¬Å”Guy in a hockey mask with a cleaver shows up and â┚¬Â¦Ã¢â”šÂ¬Ã‚ I start. Cris finishes, â┚¬Å”â┚¬Â¦and weâ┚¬â”žÂ¢ll be leaving. QUICKLY.â┚¬Â Neither of us are saying anything, but weâ┚¬â”žÂ¢re both questioning why the hell weâ┚¬â”žÂ¢re there.

Saturday, August 28, 2004. 12:00 a.m. â┚¬” The rain has let up somewhat, so Cris heads around behind the truck to tap a kidney and we decide to be brave (or stupid) and go investigate the mystery flashlight since no security guards or serial killers had bothered us yet. As we approach the building, weâ┚¬â”žÂ¢re greeted by the sound of music â┚¬Â¦ COUNTRY music. â┚¬Å”Well, thatâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s not so scary.â┚¬Â Cris says. I respond, â┚¬Å”Yeah. A bit less like Blair Witch and a bit more like Deliverance.â┚¬Â We discover two people, a not-quite-middle-aged man and a teenage boy, sitting in lawn chairs under the overhang of the coliseum, next to the door to the ticket office. â┚¬Å”Wresting tickets?â┚¬Â â┚¬Å”Yep.â┚¬Â â┚¬Å”Cool.â┚¬Â And, confident that sitting out in front of the Kansas Coliseum in a lawn chair is not the normal m.o. of a serial killer, we head back to the car to get our stuff.

12:15 a.m. â┚¬” Weâ┚¬â”žÂ¢re both trying to get some sleep to no avail. Cris is plain wired and ends up going back out to the truck to read. I snag his blanket in his absence, having been reminded that bare concrete isnâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t optimum for sleeping, even for those that like extra-firm mattresses like me.

12:30 a.m. â┚¬” The rains have moved off and the wind is trying to shift over to the north and cool things off but itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s taking itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s sweet time. Meanwhile, the indigenous flesh-eating bug population has decided that Iâ┚¬â”žÂ¢m the insect version of filet mignon and have all set to chomping. Since Cris is in the truck, and I want to hold on to our #3 in line spot, I try to continue trying to sleep while constantly swatting random parts of my exposed skin. Yes, including my face.

2:00 a.m. â┚¬” Itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s official. None of us can sleep. Cris and I strike up a conversation with the older guy. Heâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s apparently a pro at camping out for wrestling tickets. We hear about events heâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s camped out for here, in Topeka, Tulsa, wherever. Heâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s also divorced. Go figure. He does have custody of his three kids, which makes me wonder what she does in her spare time. I kid, he seems to be a decent fatherly type who knows the tricks of getting a night off; his kids â┚¬Ëœgotâ┚¬â”žÂ¢ to go sleep over at a friendâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s house tonight. Thatâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s the savvy dad, there. The kid is still sitting, and keeping to himself, although itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s become clear that he and the man arenâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t together. The kidâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s brother shows up a couple of times during the night to bring rations.

2:30 a.m. â┚¬” Another kid, probable 20-ish, and his brother, about 16-ish, show up. Theyâ┚¬â”žÂ¢re WAAAAY too excited for 2:30 in the freakinâ┚¬â”žÂ¢ morning. They bounce around for a minute, then say that theyâ┚¬â”žÂ¢re going to go get Krispy Kreme and bound off to the car again.

2:45 a.m. â┚¬” Another kid, solo, shows up having just got off of work. He eases himself into the conversation, which is bouncing back and forth between wrestling, football, and movies. The wind has finally shifted around to the north and the bugs have largely retreated.

3:00 a.m. â┚¬” Captain Excitement is back, solo this time. He doesnâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t have doughnuts, and is a bit bummed that he â┚¬Å”lost his spotâ┚¬Â (especially since he spent no more than half a second at any given place, let alone less than 2 minutes total the first time he showed up) but heâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s likeable enough, even though he tries desperately to steer the conversation towards wrestling at every opportunity (Trying to relate to our conversation on The Shawshank Redemption by bringing up a favorite storyline of Big Boss Man is a bit of a stretch, in my opinion).

4:00 a.m. â┚¬” The Lindsborg Posse arrives. Three women â┚¬Â¦ okay two women and one of their teenage daughters arrive and immediately bitch about not being #1 in line. They apparently know Wrestling Dad pretty well from previous camp outs, and the conversation veers sharply into wrestling fandom. Not just wrestling, that would be enjoyable. What Iâ┚¬â”žÂ¢m saying is that the entire thing degenerates (pardon the pun) into whoâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s got autographs from whom, whoâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s met whom backstage or (shudder) at the airport, whoâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s hung around after shows and gotten autographs, et cetera, et cetera, ad nauseum. Mind you, this is the first time Iâ┚¬â”žÂ¢ve ever camped out overnight for ANY sort of tickets (I did sit in line for about eight hours for Star Wars: Episode 1 tix â┚¬Â¦ and actually didnâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t regret it for a while). These women have apparently traveled as far as Omaha (which is probably six hours plus from Lindsborg, Kansas) to camp for WWE tickets. The most obnoxious of the three (to be fair, the only obnoxious one) has an unhealthy obsession with â┚¬Â¦ Kane. She bragged about him autographing her stuff and nobody elseâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s one time â┚¬Â¦ she bragged about him recognizing her during one trip â┚¬Â¦ I half expected her to whip out her copy of the restraining order. Of course, Wrestling Dad, being a big Undertaker fan, canâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t be outdone, so he tells the story of the last Smackdown taping he went to in Wichita, right after UT (in his â┚¬Å”American Badassâ┚¬Â gimmick) turned heel. UT was entering the ring and one of his friends shouted â┚¬Å”I want to f*** your wife!â┚¬Â at him. There was apparently a reaction.

4:45 a.m. â┚¬” The conversation briefly turns towards the BTK strangler, thus acknowledging the combination of being out in the middle of the night and doing so in Wichita, Kansas.

4:46 a.m. â┚¬” Right back to the wrestling fandom pissing contest.

7:00 a.m. â┚¬” The contest enters its fourth hour. Cris and I had been dozing on the ground while the other seven of them had been in a huddle, comparing notes on Kaneâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s choice of rental cars. I dare say that my snoring may have been the most intelligent bit of conversation in the last three hours.

I donâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t mean to be this mean, but I need to bring home the realization that this was ALL that they talked about. Three solid hours of groupie stories from people that were two standard deviations away from the normal human bodyweight. Some one way, some the other, but NONE of them would be mistaken for luchadors anytime soon.

7:15 a.m. â┚¬” Security shows up and lets us in to the box office foyer, where itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s comfortably warmer. As much as I rag on the choice of conversation I must also praise the civility of our compatriots; there was no quibbling or underhanded attempts to move up in the line over the course of the evening, save the 1,000 or so times that Obnoxious Woman complained.

7:30 a.m. â┚¬” Obnoxious Woman: â┚¬Å”If you were gentlemen, youâ┚¬â”žÂ¢d let the ladies to the front of the line.â┚¬Â Me (now a little fed up): â┚¬Å”Yes, but weâ┚¬â”žÂ¢re wrestling fans. If we did that weâ┚¬â”žÂ¢d have to turn heel and smack you with a steel chair.â┚¬Â Laughter from the other seven people (including her friend and her daughter), and that also happens to be the last we hear about line issues.

7:50 a.m. â┚¬” A ticket office lady, maybe in the best example of forethought of the entire ordeal, posts maps of the seating arrangement for the taping, so that we can pick out and prioritize which section numbers we want.

8:02 a.m. â┚¬” Tired, itchy, and (still) bloated from Wendyâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s grease bombs, we emerge from the Kansas Coliseum ticket office victorious, having scored the most cherry seats in the arena for a wrestling show: The T.V. side, on what would be the left side of the screen, right in the corner by the entrance aisle, behind the steel steps up to the ring. Weâ┚¬â”žÂ¢re in high-five heaven. Now all we can do is decide which â┚¬Å”merchâ┚¬Â to wear that night (Iâ┚¬â”žÂ¢m hoping Cena will come out in a WSU jersey of some sort, although the popular opinion is that heâ┚¬â”žÂ¢ll show in a retro Barry Sanders jersey), and hope that Torrie Wilson makes an appearance.

8:05 a.m. â┚¬” Cris and I head home, already planning our signs for the Smackdown taping.

â┚¬Å”Widro Fears The Kliqâ┚¬Â

Until next week, get some sleep.