When you first touch down in New York City, it is intense. Daunting.
There is a huge gulf between opulence and poverty, even from block to block. Everything catches your eye, everything at the same time; flashing lights, costumed hustlers, an all-encompassing smog. There is so much sensory information to process that much of it is hidden from your normal perspective; looking up at the insane apex of the New York City skyline, in the mouth of it, genuinely hurts the neck.
I started my WrestleMania Weekend adventure by joining up with the fellow Great Men of WhatCulture Wrestling, who had touched down 24 hours prior, to take the subway to Brooklyn. In regaling me with tales of their experiences, they inadvertently didn’t help my delirious head space. Bob Backlund is crazier than you thought, and he’s in walking distance of us. Atsushi Onita is hobbling around somewhere in full gear. Everything you ever watched on TV is coming alive, ironically, in a city that doesn’t feel real.
Dealing with this overdose of unreality was overwhelming, having been awake for 24 hours on a plane seat as unyielding as a Brock Lesnar German. And then, where most tourists settle down for a quiet drink nearby, I watched what was possibly the most overwhelmingly great pro wrestling show WWE has ever promoted. Having lost all my bearings, my orientation took another hit when I walked to my seat. The Barclays Center is so steep that it feels dangerous. Physically precarious, the view nonetheless was perfect to take in TakeOver: New York’s colosseum atmosphere. The view also revealed the inner machinations of Aleister Black’s goth-metal entrance, the laborious set-up of which, and the prop candles displayed in plain, goofy sight, tainted the mystique of the character.