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WWE World Wrestling EntertainmentTonight has been an experience – a very special one at that – and yes, it involved wrestling. Or more accurately WWE – World Wrestling Entertainment!

My son Damian has long been a wrestling fan. His passion has not abated over the years. We as a family have had to listen to many accounts of the wrestling matches Damian has watched on TV. We have been woken in the middle of the night to be told what had happened in some wrestling match. We have even watched them with him. Then there were the times we were stuck in hospital as he was fighting for his life and Damian’s major concern was what day of the week was it because he didn’t want to miss the wrestling.

I remember one particular occasion when we thought we were going to lose him. After three gruelling days of seizures, time spent in intensive care, and a lot of uncertainty Damian suddenly showed signs of improving.

His first words to me were “What day is it?”

When I told him it was Monday he became really angry with me.

He then said “Why didn’t you let me watch the wrestling on Friday?” I tried to explain what had happened. He didn’t care.

He then asked me did I at least video it for him. The answer was “No”. Later that day a school friend came to visit him and he told Damian he had taped the wrestling. I could have kissed his friend on the spot. He had saved me! Damian, however, wasn’t happy until he had that tape in his hands. He was 14 years old!

Damian’s 21st birthday party had a wrestling theme and he chose to wear a red lycra wrestling outfit to the party. I had never seen my son so happy before. It was magic.

One of Damian’s dreams has been to meet the wrestlers and to see a live wrestling event. He has even asked me if I would one day take him to Mexico to see where it all began.

Thanks to the work of a number of people the wrestling came to our home town instead and this enabled my son’s dream to come true.

I arranged the tickets (ringside seats no less). We decided we wanted to share this experience with Damian as a family. This was to be an extra special outing for all of us. However, I have to admit it was the last thing on earth I actually wanted to attend. I couldn’t believe I was paying to go and watch the wrestling! Now … well, let’s say I have a different opinion.

In December one of the wrestlers – Batista – came to Wellington to promote the show. After queuing for many hours with 4,000 other people Damian was fortunate to meet Batista.

The organisers expected about 400 people would turn up to meet the WWE wrestler Batista. Over 4,000 people were there!

Even better Damian got to hold the World Wrestling Heavyweight Championship Belt which Batista held at that time.

Damian meets the WWE wrestler Batista

Damian wearing Batista's World Wrestling Heavyweight Championship Belt

I was in Australia at the time. I received a phone call from Damian to tell me how exciting it was meeting Batista and how inspired he was by this man. The excitement was building.

As you can see there is a long history to this day.

We had fantastic seats and as the night unfolded I was stunned by the spectacle before me.

The WWE superstars were amazed at the size of the venue and the ring-stage setup when they first entered the Stadium. “Holy Cow, this is a Coliseum, not an arena” was one of the WWE star’s comments.

The Westpac Stadium all set up for the wrestling show

The show began at 7.30pm and finished at 11.30pm. We had wrestlers fall at our feet.

And they all fell out of the ring!

There were fireworks, drama, lighting effects, huge video screens with presentations, costumes, wrestlers who were actors while at the same time amazingly fit and agile.

It's all happening!

The people attending also fascinated me. The ages ranged from little kids through to senior citizens. There was a young boy sitting behind us who had his teddy bear with him and yet during one of the matches I heard him yelling “knee him in the nuts”! People were chanting. People had placards they’d prepared and were waving them around. People were passionate. People were having fun. People were engaged. People knew stuff. The world outside of the Stadium ceased to exist and for this period of time I became lost as I shared my son’s dream, and to my surprise enjoyed myself as well.

Damian cheering on a wrestler who had just won his matchEarly in the evening Damian leaned over to me and said: “Mama, this is nothing like it is on TV”. For some insane reason I started to think about my learners and what their learning experience was like. Can we ever provide a “real” learning experience at distance? Does all the technology available to us today really make up for a contact experience? In that moment I thought “No”, nothing can ever replace the experience of learning in the physical presence of others. The real thing is always far superior to any other alternative.

Now, as I write this and think about this further I am not so sure. Learning at distance is a different experience. It is not necessarily a poorer experience.

When Damian watches the wrestling on TV he is seeing the event through someone else’s eyes. They have determined what will be made available. What Damian takes from what he is viewing is however determined by him. He will still pick up on things that someone else might not. He will still have some form of control over the situation and what he gleans from it.

We had a camera crew right in front of us filming the whole event for the three huge screens set up in the Stadium. I noticed that what the camera was focused on was not necessarily what I was looking at, nor was it what I found interesting. You do miss so much when you have to confine things within a box (aka screen). However, my son will still go back to watching the wrestling on TV because that is the only way he can get his ‘fix’ of something he loves. When he watches it now he will be watching with new eyes based on his ‘live’ experience. It will be different.

The other thing I was stunned by was how much Damian knew about wrestling, the wrestlers, and the various moves they used. I had my own commentator sitting next to me. He had learnt all of this by watching the wrestling on TV. The big difference was in the live event there was no commentator to tell us all these things whereas on TV there was. My son struggles with learning and yet he could talk for hours on this subject. How did he manage to learn all this information and retain it when we have spent hours trying to teach him other things and we have got nowhere.

We had a wonderful night. Damian was overjoyed. I love that we were able to share this together. We have come away with a great memory, lots to talk about, and the seats we sat on as a souvenir. I still wouldn’t sit down and watch the wrestling on TV but I would definitely go and see another show, especially now that I have more of an idea as to what is actually going on.

Damian proudly shows off his chair he got to take home.
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One Response to “Wrestling, or more correctly WWE”

  1. on 05 Mar 2006 at 5:08 pm Anonymous

    Your recount of Saturday night brought tears to my eyes. Even though we were several rows behind you, I felt that we also got the chance to share what was a very special few hours with you…and with Damian. First comment from all my clan was ‘What did Damian think of the show….did he enjoy it?’ And then the pleasure when they heard that yes, he certainly did. Great photos too…talk about a prime viewing spot!

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