Reliving My First WWE Event: 1998 King of the Ring
Most people can remember their first baseball game or college football game that they attended with their father. I know I remember mine. They are usually like any other game you will go to. On occasion, you will see something great like an amazing comeback or a walk-off home run. WWE is not like most events. It combines the best of athletics and entertainment into one event.
For me, my first WWE event is something that was once in a lifetime.
I was nine years old. I was a big fan of WWE (WWF at the time). I had my favorites, most notably Kane. It just so happened that Kane was getting ready to face Stone Cold Steve Austin for the WWF Championship at King of the Ring. Normally, I would have to wait until the Raw after the PPV to see if he won. But June 28, 1998, was not a normal day.
I woke up, ate some Trix cereal and watched some cartoons. Early that afternoon, I sat in my room playing Super Nintendo with my brother when my Dad entered the room. He told us to get ready to go someplace. We had no idea what he was talking about. Assuming it was just another trip to the grocery store, I threw on my shoes and dejectedly walked to the car (I didn't like going to the store).
Soon we were heading north. It was a longer drive than usual. I got the feeling something cool was going to happen once we passed Morgantown. I wasn't quite sure where we were going, my brother seemed more confused than I was. About 90 minutes later, we entered the city of Pittsburgh. Soon after, we found ourselves at Mellon Arena.
Needless to say, we knew where we were and were extremely excited. I was at my first WWE event and it was a major PPV with my favorite wrestler headlining. How could it get any better?
The first few matches were so-so. The King of the Ring tournament final between Ken Shamrock and The Rock was very good. Shamrock defeated The Rock, who I hated a lot at the time. It had been fun so far.
The next match, however, would be the most spectacular thing I have witnessed in person.
Hell in a Cell. Mankind and The Undertaker. Mankind made his way to the ring. He tossed a chair to the top of the cell and climbed up to the top. What the heck was going on? Next, the lights went down and Undertaker slowly made his way towards the cell. He would follow Mankind to the top. The two began to brawl. A Chair shot to Undertaker. They began walking across the cage and the cage gave way. I thought they were going to fall through. What came next continues to live in infamy of wrestling lore.
Undertaker threw Mankind from the top of the cage, 16 feet through the Spanish announce table. My brother was stunned. I was in shock. My dad, who wasn't a fan and thought it was all wires and tricks, couldn't believe what he just saw. A man soaring off of a cage and crashing through a table. The medics came out, Vince came out to check on Mankind. This match was over. They put him on a stretcher and began to roll him away from the ring. Mankind was done. There was no way he was getting up. Then everything froze in the aisle. There was a stir. All of a sudden, a deafening roar overtook the arena. I couldn't see what was going on (since I was nine and like 4'10"). My dad shouted "How the hell is this guy standing?" All of a sudden, Mankind was climbing back up the cage. The match was back on!
Mankind then got destroyed again, in the form of being chokeslammed through the cage. He crashed into the ring below and the medics were back tending to Mankind. My dad thought he was dead. However, he rose up once again. The two battled it out. Mankind would pull a bag from under the ring. He poured something shiny into the ring. We had no clue what it was, until it filtered through the crowd that he was using thumbtacks. After being slammed into the bed of thumbtacks twice, the match was over and I was in total awe.
The reaction from the crowd was tremendous. We had just been taken on an emotional roller coaster. It was the equivalent of watching a walk-off home run at Yankee stadium or seeing Michael Jordan hit a buzzer-beating jumper to win the game.
For me, though, the most exciting part was yet to come: Stone Cold Steve Austin defending his WWF Championship against my favorite, Kane. The match: First Blood. Kane's entrance was intense. The arena went pitch black, then, BOOM! A huge explosion made me jump. I am fairly certain I was the only person rooting for the Big Red Machine. Austin's glass shattered, the place erupted. I don't know how anyone had anything left after the hell we just witnessed.
The match got started. I had no clue how Austin would make Kane bleed. His whole body was protected. The two battled all over the ring and floor. Soon, the Hell in a Cell was being lowered again. It was Paul Bearer lowering the cage. I didn't know what to think. I had a feeling that Kane was going to win the belt.
That feeling turned around when Undertaker reappeared. He had a chair. He was definitely coming for his brother, Kane. Boy, was I wrong. Undertaker nailed Austin. Even from my seat in the first row of the bleachers, I could see Austin was busted open. Still, he fought back. Kane was out and the referee finally called for the bell. Kane had won the WWF Championship! I was so happy! A perfect end to a perfect day!
On the way home we talked about it the whole time. I couldn't sleep. My ears were ringing; I was too excited. The next day at school, I got to rub it in that my guy won the title. Too bad I celebrated too soon. Kane would lose the belt on Raw, but I'd never lose the memory of my first WWE event.
It was one of the most memorable nights in WWE history, and of my life.
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