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Joe Lindsay, The Golden Bear, introduction, The Showcase of the Immortals

+UPDATE+ This story was viewed by ( in Stamford, Ct. (home of wwe headquarters) at 11:31 in the afternoon on February 8th. +UPDATE+

The Showcase Of The Immortals

by Joe Lindsay

“We are all mortals. Our bodies, though strong, can’t defy time. One day, we will die. What matters most is the legacy we leave behind. Did we become all that we are capable of becoming? Did we make the difference we came here to make? Did we pursue our dreams when all around us thought we were chasing illusions? Only those that dare to rise are able to lift themselves above horizons. Only those bold enough, to chase dreams, are the ones who catch them. Wrestlemania. The Showcase of the Immortals."

-Promotional material for Wrestlemania XX

This is it. Wrestelmania, the big time, the granddaddy of them all, the global phenomenon. This is the culmination of 365 days on the road,of near constant travel by the men and women who have earned the right to call themselves “professional” professional wrestlers. This is the finale of their performances in arenas across the country and across the world. Wrestlemania is their reward for taking right hands in Topeka, and for dishing them back out in Tucson. Wrestlemania is a thank you for the cheap heat in New York City and the big spot in New Orleans. Wrestlemania is the reason for the razor blades in Vegas, the chokeholds in Orlando, and the chops in D.C. The promise of Wrestlemania keeps them awake on the sleepless bus ride from Biloxi to Memphis, it is on their minds in Minneapolis staring at the ceiling of the small hotel room, waiting for room service. Wrestlemania had nothing to do with the drunken plane ride to Mexico City. It had everything to do with the concussion in London and the painkillers in the airplane bathroom on the way back home. Wrestlemania is the result of that promo in Green Bay, and the mixed tag match in Kansas City, the Cage in Philadelphia and the double count out in Houston that almost caused a riot. We are here. This is it. This is Madison Square Garden, New York City.
This is Wrestlemania XX, The Showcase of Immortals. Of course Wrestlemania sold-out the Garden. Over 20,000 people of all races, creeds, and colors flowed into that building, cramming in the concrete cavern. They walked through the labyrinth of tunnels and stairs deep in the bowels of the arena, clutching their homemade signs. They bought t-shirts, hats, and programs. They bought popcorn, they bought beer, they bought bratwursts. It was 40 bucks a pop for one of the nosebleeds. At face value, ringside seats were just a shade under a thousand dollars, but guys were selling them online for ten times that.
The focus of all the attention is a small structure in middle of the hollow shell that is the Garden. The professional wrestling world revolves around the ebb and flow in this ring, around the action on top of a 20 ft by 20ft piece of blue canvas. All eyes are on it.


We’re live. Beamed via dish, cable, and satillite into homes in 90 different countries.
Howard “The Fink” Finkel is in the ring. He is the ring announcer for the event. Howard is wearing a tuxedo and holding a microphone. He addresses the crowd,
“Ladies and Gentleman, here to sing America the Beautiful, the world-renowned Boy’s Choir of Harlem”.
The Boys Choir of Harlem is grouped in the middle of the ring. They are wearing matching red suits and red bow ties. Each boy had his right hand on the right shoulder of the boy in front of him. Accompanied by a soft, lilting piano, they begin to sing.
O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
As the boys sing, images are projected onto the big screen in the middle of the arena. At home, these images fade in and out of television sets. They all touch on a common theme. A baby is asleep in a red, white, and blue stroller, the flag still clutched in his right hand. A Navy officer, in full dress blues, salutes the rippling stars and stripes. A young girl perched atop her dad’s shoulders, one hand running through his curly hair, the other frantically waving a small American flag. A group of three fire fighters, heads up, walked bravely, defiantly, in front of the unfurling flag.

America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

The boys are still singing in the center of the ring. On the screen a tank rolls through a deserted desert, silhouetted by a wavering orange-red setting sun. A man in camouflage fatigues looks down. Fighter planes. Cheering troops.

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!

The screen shows us the crowd. A lot of them are waving flags as well. A group of three guys are holding pieces of yellow posterboard in the air. One of the pieces says, U, the other says S, and the third says A. The boys keep singing.

America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

The finale is a computer-generated New York City skyline. The “Freedom Tower” which has not been built yet, stands where the World Trade Towers used to be. The skyline glows against the black backdrop. The boys finish singing. Red, white, and blue streamers drop from the rafters. The fans cheer. They real show is about to start. The lights go out. The fans scream.

A Brief Video Montage.

VOICE OVER NARRATION: Twenty years ago, one man had a vision. It began here, and it would change our world. As the vision grew, we cheered it on. Stood in awe. Held on to our seats, and gave up our hearts. We watched with utter disbelief. Stunned Silence, and sheer amazement. We’ve been inspired and enriched by the vision.

“LATINO HEAT” EDDIE GUERRERO: “Sometimes things in your life are so special, that words cannot explain”.

“THE NEXT BIG THING” BROCK LESNAR: “The history, alone in that place makes Madison square garden special.

DWAYNE “THE ROCK” JOHNSON: “My family is going to come there, my mom, my wife, my dad, my daughter”

JOHN CENA “THE DR. OF THUGGANOMICS”: “Everything I’ve ever wanted out of life has come down to this one day, to this one short period of time”

“THE CRIPPLER” CHRIS BENOIT: “My passion, the thing you dream about and consumes you.”

“THE WRESTLING MACHINE” KURT ANGLE: “People are going to remember this forever”

MICK “MANKIND” FOLEY: “People are going to say, you know what, that match was worth coming back to”

“THE BIG SHOW” PAUL WIGHT: “You haven’t lived, you haven’t breathed, since you’ve danced at Wrestlemania.”

VOICE OVER NARRATION: Tonight will be like no other. Tonight is the showcase of the immortals. They will achieve the impossible and forge new beginnings. Tonight men will chase down their dreams. Tonight no one holds back. And tonight is where it all begins, again.

The video ends; cue the fireworks. They come blazing down from the rafters, along the entrance ramp, shooting from the ring posts themselves. The official Wrestlemania XX theme song blares from the loudspeakers.

“1, 2, 3 - Go!
Yeah, you've been living on the edge of a broken dream.
Yeah, that's the only thing you'll ever take away from me.
I'm never gonna stop,
I'm never gonna drop,
Ain't no different than it was before.
So take some good advice,
You better stop and think twice,
Before you take your first step,
Out that door.”

A man shouts over the chaos,

“This is the pomp, the pageantry, and the passion, known as Wrestlemania XX!!”

Jim Ross, or Good Ol’ J.R. as he’s known to wrestling fans, handles the telecast. A mush-mouthed Oklahoman in a black Resistol Cowboy Hat, J.R. has been the voice of World Wrestling Entertainment for nearly a decade. There are few in the game that do it better than him.

“Welcome to the sold-out Madison Square Garden in New York City. Where tonight, Raw and Smackdown Superstars have the chance to earn they way into immortality. Hello everybody, I’m Jim Ross, alongside Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler. King, I don’t think I’ve ever been more ready than I am tonight for Wrestlemania XX.”


Over the next two hours, wrestlers will perform “Wrestlemania XX” for the crowd. The do what they do best, pretend to beat the living shit out of one another. They slapped, clawed, slammed, choked, whipped, kneed, kicked, punched, chopped, and tossed each other from one end of the ring to the other. They hit each other with chairs, they jumped at each other from ladders, they smashed one another through tables.
That night, in the main event, “The Crippler” Chris Benoit defeated “The Heart Break Kid” Shawn Michaels and “The Game” Triple H in a Triple Threat match for the World Heavyweight Title.
After 27 minutes and 45 seconds a bloody Triple H tapped out to Chris Benot’s “Crippler Crossface” submission hold. Chris Benoit had won the World’s title at Wrestlemania XX in front of a sold out Madison Square Garden crowd. It was the crowning achievement of his nearly 20 year professional wrestling career.
12 Wrestlemania matches, including 7 title defenses, made it a long night for Good Ol’ J.R. He was horse as he made the call.
“Benoit has locked in the Crossface! Benoit has gotten him in the Crossface! Triple H is desperate, the sense of urgency is overwhelming. The champion is reaching for the ropes. When will triple H tap? Can Benoit do it? Triple H is fading away, as Benoit is this close to winning the Heavyweight Championship of the World. Triple H is being tortured by the Wolverine. He is torturing the champion with the Crossface! Will he tap out? Will the champion tap out?”
J.R.’s voice was a rasping yell as Benoit continued to wrench Triple H,
“The title is on the line! Benoit is ripping the champions head off!”
It’s too much for the champ. He raises his had and slaps it back on the mat. He has tapped out, said “uncle,” given up.
J.R. is still going, “It’s over! It’s over”
Howard Finkel comes over the P.A. “the winner of this bout and NEWWWW World Heavyweight Champion, Chris Benoit!”
Chris Benoit lay facedown on the canvas. He was crying. Not just crying, sobbing. His tears mixed with the blood and sweat that stained the blue canvas. The ref walked over to Benoit and handed him the belt. Benoit held it with both hands. And for a moment, just a moment he became what he once was, a skinny fifteen year old kid from Edmonton, Alberta with a dream, a good work ethic, and a whole lot of good luck.
J.R. has not stopped shouting.
“This sold out crowd at Madison Square Garden has erupted! Chris Benoit’s eighteen year oddessey has culminated by winning the World’s Heavyweight title at Wrestlemania XX!”
That brief moment of boyishness faded far quicker than it came.
As Chris Benoit rose to his feet the years visibly, rapidly, piled onto his shoulders. Benoit was losing his hair, he was missing a tooth, he had lost most of the feeling in his right arm, he had had his neck surigically put back together.
But as the new champion raised his title in the air, the illuminated Wrestlemania XX logo looming behind him, it was clear that this night belonged to Chris Benoit.
“Benoit, so many times, has been so close. Year after year, mile after mile, continent after continent. But Benoit never gave up, he never gave up. Benoit has done it. Benoit is living his dream. Finally, finally, by God, finally. Chris Benoit has become the Heavyweight champion of this world!”
As J.R. continued his call, another man entered the ring. Benoit turned around. It was his best friend, fellow wrestling champion, Eddie Guerrero. Guerrero was slowly clapping in honor of his friend. They moved together and hugged, Benoit’s eyes welling up with tears.
“Eddie Guerrero with a heartfelt embrace on his friend Chris Benoit. These two men have traveled the world over so many times, and they are both shedding tears of joy, because Chris Benoit can say ‘I won the Heavyweight Championship of the World in Madison Square at Wrestlemania XX”
Eddie Guerrero lifted Chris Benoit’s arm in the air, as confetti filled the arena. The moment became a part of Wrestling’s mythology. It became an iconic image of the sport, of the culture, of the industry. The official theme song echoed in the background.

You had your chance to walk away.
Live to see another day.
And now you've crossed that line...
You must be out your mind.


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