Torin Walhood never thought he would find himself at a World Wrestling Entertainment event in Grand Forks, North Dakota. In fact, he was only vaguely aware of what the WWE was when I called him on the afternoon of Friday, Sept. 29 to see if he wanted to accompany me to WWE Live at the Alerus Center that night.
On our short drive there, I try to fill him in on the kind of show he would be getting. To be fair, it’s a lot to absorb, and I don’t blame him for failing to be prepared as we took our seats in the “WWE-ified” Alerus.
Like most of the uninitiated, he has a hard time grasping why so many people would want to watch contests that are fixed. There’s no chance, no “real competition,” only spectacle and flash. I hope that by the end of the night, he’ll understand that that is what makes it all so wonderful. As an occasional watcher of the WWE, I’ve never been to an actual event myself. The ring looks much smaller than I expected.
The first match is between Finn Balor and Bray Wyatt. Balor’s entrance is fairly bland, but Wyatt has an impressive lead up. The room goes dark and audience members start waving their cell phone lights. Slowly, a looming figure holding a lantern makes his way into the ring.
I’ve been trying to explain to Torin that most wrestlers have schticks – a backstory and a character- but he doesn’t seem to fully understand the implications of this this until Wyatt’s showing. I quickly fill him in on the basics of Wyatt; he is an evil Southern cult leader. This is all one really needs to know.
“I don’t endorse backwards Southern cults, but I’m interested to observe a purported member,” Torin said.
The match isn’t all that exciting. Balor defeats the bad guy, and we move quickly on to the next spectacle: the cruiserweights division….