This past year I have been trying to knock several items off of my bucket list. Why? The world is crazy right now. I decided to not live in fear. I won’t let fear guide me. So I have been living this year to the fullest. This is despite the social and political climate in society. Recently, I was able to attend WWE Backlash 2017 and NXT Takeover: Chicago in one weekend.
I’ve always been a wrestling fan. People don’t understand “since it is fake.” I will say this. I watch it as a performance art and not as a competitive sport. If you watch some Olympic sports like Gymnastics or Figure Skating, you will understand then how I watch it. Plus, it can be fun and dumb entertainment. I’ve watched it all my life and I won’t apologize.
I managed to score tickets to Backlash in the “I’m just happy to be a a part of this event” section of the Allstate Arena. I went to the Allstate Arena a few years back for WWE Raw around Wrestlemania 30. The crowd was hyped. I love Chicago wrestling crowds. I asked my wife if she wanted to go and she said she was interested. Her favorite wrestler is Becky Lynch who would be there.
Then WWE announced NXT Takeover. Oh my goodness! For those who don’t know NXT, it was initially intended as WWE’s farm system like the minor leagues are to Major League Baseball. However, it has sort of taken on a life of its own. In some ways, NXT is a lot more fun to watch than the RAW or SmackDown shows.
I texted my wife about NXT. However, she had prior commitments. My friends unfortunately couldn’t go. So screw it. I got a ticket for just myself. Now I live 3 hours away in what is referred to as “Central Illinois.” This meant I had to drive up that Saturday. Watch NXT. Drive back that night. Then bring back my wife for Sunday. Turn around, drive back for work the next day.
Now, I’m not whining about it. This is a situation created entirely by me. I only have myself to blame for this. Darn’t, I wasn’t going to miss a weekend of fun on an account of logistics and transportation issues. I was going to do this and prove everyone else wrong.
The Road to NXT Takeover: Chicago
Mrs. Eston was on her way to see Aladdin the Musical. I was on my way to NXT. Went ahead and hit the local service station for some water and the only fuel I need for the road…
I still am so happy that Surge was brought back. If its not at your local brick and mortar store, you can order this amazing concoction on Amazon if you have Prime. It definitely will shake you out of whatever space you’re staring off into.
Also, I load up my Spotify through my car’s Bluetooth. This playlist gets me through many road trips.
It has a lot of ROCK…
….and, judge me for this, I dont’ care, I won’t apologize, but it aslo has some POP…
… and it has some CLASSIC ROCK ANTHEMS BABY!
…and of course, a lot of METAL
In the end, it is all about rocking out. The road goes by quicker when your music is just hit after hit.
In a few hours, I get there in no time to the Allstate Arena. Guess what? Parking isn’t bad! I’m not double parked. Heck to the yeah, I already knew this was going to be great.
NXT: Takeover Chicago is Amazing
I get quickly to my seat (which is a bit cramped but not too bad). I sit in awe of the set. It is WWE’s standard Pay Per View set which looks okay on TV, after all of these years. However, it looks amazing in person.
The guy next to me was also alone. He mentioned about how the person he was going with dropped out at the last second. I told him it is their loss. NXT is Phenomenal.
I say the highlight of waiting for the event was the ring sweeper. Someone sweeps the ring. I never thought about it. However, the Chicago crowd was jacked chanting “SWEEP FOREVER! ::clapclap clapclapclap:: SWEEP FOREVER!”
The matches from top to bottom were great. My favorites were the United Kingdom Championship and the main event for the Tag Team Championship.
I went home that too night excited. So I was able to stay buzzed the ride home.
Day 2: The Road to WWE Backlash
This time I was with my wife who was still recovering from her amazing Aladdin play. We both grew up watching Disney movies. Aladdin was my favorite one growing up so I was a bit envious. Still, there’s no complaints on this end about my night.
The ride up was almost exactly the same except this time we went and got pizza…
I’ve never been to a Giordano’s before. It was freaking delicious if I must say. I’m sure once you get in Chicago there are other great pizza places that offer this style of pizza, but I gotta knock that item off the bucket list, yo!
Afterwards, we went to get parking at Allstate Arena, which was a bit worse but, still, we weren’t at least double parked. We got out, and we were ready for another night of wrestling.
WWE Backlash: Don’t Hinder Jinder
We got in the Allstate Arena and we were in the upper bowl (lower bowl for NXT). The seats are CRAMPED. You’re basically packed in like sardines!
What a weird little social experiment that the Allstate Arena has. They want to see how little elbow and leg room they can give people before they “stop being polite, and start being real.” Holy balls, I can’t believe I just quote that crap show.
This time, I couldn’t see the set but I had a decent view of the ring.
Guess who ended up sitting next to me by pure coincidence? The exact same guy who sat next to me for NXT. This time, we both had dates of some sorts. What are the odds of that even happening? Guess what also happened, people were chanting for the ring sweeper to make his return. Alas, he did not.
It was a mostly great night of action. I got to see Shinsuke Nakamura debut on the main roster. Also, I got to see a great match between Kevin Owens and AJ Styles. Plus I got to witness, for the first time ever, a WWE World Title change between Randy Orton and Jinder Mahal.
Now, this was one of the most shocking moments of the year. Nobody actually bet on a man who barely won any matches in the WWE in the last year being picked as the winner of the World Title. But it happened. It was one of those “Anything can happen in the WWE” moments, for sure. I high fived the people around me. As they say, don’t hinder Jinder. It was great.
The Road Home
The parklng lot was crazy. 11,000 people usually fill the Allstate Arena for WWE events, and this one was no exception. It was a cluster getting out of there.
What I don’t understand is why are people honking at you to go? I can’t go. If I could, I’d move.
It is like when you’re in a traffic jam and the car behind you honks at you to go. … Aye, thanks for the idea mate! Original plan was to pitch a tent and roast marshmallows.
I got out after about an hour and got home safely. I did it. Sure, I’m feeling pure exhaustion. However, it was worth it!
Bucket List Annihilation: In Conclusion
So what did I knock off my bucket list?
- Attending a WWE Pay Per View live.
- Attending an NXT Show live.
- Witnessing a WWE World Heavyweight Championship title change live.
- Witnessing a ladder match live.
- Eating Giordano’s Pizza
Lot of firsts for me. It was great! 11 out of 10, would recommend… but maybe a different arena if you’re an average sized modern day American (you get the idea).