Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Rachel's Unforgettable Birthday, aka TNA Wrestling Review, and Other Notes....

I’ve never been so happy to see a month end than I am concerning February, 2011. At the snap of a finger, February went from a normal month to a nightmare. We’re now ten days removed from Aunt Sharon’s sudden passing and, slowly, things are returning to “normal”, as it will now be defined post-2/19. Bonnie has good days and bad days, Robbie is a rock and Rachel is back at school, and, as I type, is practicing with the Richmond Symphony Youth Sinfonettia at Ginter Park United Methodist Church.

Plans continue to come together for the Celebration Of Life Service for Sharon, set for next Saturday (3/12). All details will be in Sunday’s Times-Dispatch, if I do my job correctly. 

Now, to take a few minutes and blog about a GREAT experience!!! As low in the valley as we all felt on Saturday night, 2/19, Rachel rebounded to about as high an experience as you can get just seven nights later. Some background…..

Rachel started paying attention to wrestling around 2006. By 2007, she began to root for the Hardy Boys (Matt and Jeff), specifically Jeff. By 2008, we were in full “crush” mode. 

The closest Rachel had ever been to him was at a WWE house show at the Richmond Coliseum late in 2008, when we sat at the end of a row on a raised platform of seats above the lower level, a perfect position to reach your hand out when a wrestler came back to slap ‘em. Nicely. Thus Rachel got a “high-five” from Jeff Hardy that night.

Could it get any better?

Fast forward to this past Saturday night. Jeff has been with TNA Wrestling for over a year now, and, Rachel only watched their shows when he was on. Otherwise she couldn’t stand TNA. Too many old wrestlers, she said. I agree, but that’s another story.

TNA came to Richmond for a live show at the Landmark Theatre Saturday night. I was skeptical about the venue, but it turned out to be fantastic. I used money saved up from my football season work last fall to take Robbie and Rachel to their first TNA event.

OH! I forgot to say Saturday was Rachel’s 14th birthday. Okay, NOW the stage is set. 

I had read online earlier about TNA’s show in Norfolk on Friday and got a clue that it was possible that the Hardys would be available to pose for pictures after the show was over. I carefully reserved remaining money, just in case they followed the same pattern in RIC.

Before the show, Robbie got to meet his favorite female wrestler, Patrick Henry graduate Mickie James. I had met her at the radio station in my Clear Channel days when she was with WWE. So, part of Robbie’s birthday (April) gift came a little early, and he didn’t mind. He also got to meet Jeff Jarrett before we left and Robbie told him he wanted to work for them on day (Jarrett and his dad founded the company nine years ago). Jarrett said he “took a mental picture” of Robbie and will be looking for him. Don’t be surprised, Jeff……don’t be surprised…..

Sure enough, after the main event, it was announced you could have your picture taken in the ring onstage with the Hardy Boys. I knew we’d wait in line, even if it took all night. Hundreds of others joined us in a series of about four lines that all snaked their way through the seats of the floor section of the Landmark. I thought we’d be there 60 to 90 minutes waiting (because we had to come from upstairs in the cheap seats to get in line), but they knew what they were doing, and it took less than 40. I was very impressed.

Of course the only downside to that is you got in the ring and had about 10 seconds with Matt and Jeff, long enough to shake hands and pose for the picture. Rachel REALLY wanted them (ESPECIALLY Jeff) to wish her a happy 14th birthday.

So, it was finally Rachel’s turn. She went up, shook their hands, accidentally stepped on Matt’s foot (OOPS!) and…….

……all of a sudden, the girl taking pictures couldn’t take any.

I heard someone say, “did they pull the power cord??”. They were in the midst of tearing down their set, and, apparently, someone disconnected the power to their photo computer system. So, there was…..A DELAY.

And Rachel was there. With the Hardy Boys. Oh, darn!  

So, instead of her “10 seconds of fame”, she ended with about 2.5 minutes of fame with Matt and Jeff. Matt was the talkative one, carrying on a nice conversation with Rachel (Jeff looked tired!), and long after it was done, Rachel kicked herself for not talking to Jeff, but I told her it all worked out the way it was supposed to be. Robbie and I, standing onstage outside the ring, had time to grab our phones and take additional pics of the three of them.

The people left in line HAD to be wondering, “What’s so special about THAT GIRL?” 

Then, power was restored, the picture taken, and the moment was complete. Couldn’t ask for a better one, if you ask me. Strike one off Rachel’s bucket list! And, for those with access to her Facebook page, they saw that it was the “best BDay EVER!!!!!”. I would agree…for her. My favorite Rachel birthday was in 1997…..the day she was born. 

By the way, kudos to TNA Wrestling. They are MAJOR fan-friendly. Many other wrestlers were out signing autographs onstage after the show while the line worked its way to ringside. They are a much smaller operation than WWE, but they take advantage of having smaller crowds (I’d say somewhere between 1200 and 1500 people were there Saturday night) by being able to offer picture and autograph sessions before, during and after events. This will help them continue to build a solid fan base.

The only show complaint I had was the introductions for wrestlers were WAY too long. It shouldn’t take ten minutes to introduce six wrestlers for a nine-minute match. Well, that and the fact that my favorite wrestler (Ric Flair) and Robbie’s favorite (Sting) weren’t in attendance. So, Rachel has one up on both of us. Hee hee…..

And now we heartedly welcome March, hoping for a month without shock and tragedy, filled with all those boring things that compile every day life.

On a personal note, I have slept better the past two nights with my C-PAP machine than I have in years. Today I felt good enough to work around the house, take Harry for a walk and bring Rachel to Symphony practice, and it’s only 5:30! You have to understand, these are BIG steps for me. Anytime I am out of bed more than 12 hours in a calendar day is a great thing. And, in the past several days, it’s happened more than not.

I’m SO grateful to God for these little things that, when put together, make my life one of more functioning and less simple “existence”. We learned all too harshly in February that none of us have time to simply “exist”.

Rachel has a concert at school tomorrow night, Sharon’s Celebration of Life Service on the 12th, I believe, will be a healing experience for many people, and, lest we forget…..

It is March. It’s my favorite sports month of the year. Let the Madness begin! 

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