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    Thursday, February 2, 2017

    Wings, Chants & Beer at 7 AM: My Royal Rumble Viewing Party Experience

    By Gretchen Gatan

    When I was asked to write about my experience at the Royal Rumble Viewing Party, I have to admit—I was both thrilled and intimidated. Thrilled because as a wrestling fan, it was an honor; intimidated because it was my very first time to attend a PWR-related event and I’m not exactly someone you’d expect to be a fan—given my background.

    Just to share a little bit about myself and my love for wrestling—I write on a freelance basis, run a beauty and lifestyle blog, and do makeup artistry for a living. I also help with my mom’s backyard business, and recently left my Marketing Manager position at a makeup distribution company. It’s been quite an adjustment (and a challenge) leaving the corporate world, but it’s also been very fun.

    My love for wrestling all started at a tender age of 7. It was my grandmother’s love for Hulk Hogan, and my dad and uncles’ fascination with guys like the Ultimate Warrior, Razor Ramon and the Undertaker that influenced me to start watching. I was immediately drawn towards Stone Cold Steve Austin, and eventually I also became addicted to watching The Hardy Boyz and Lita. It’s a little embarrassing to admit, but I used to write and read fanfiction of them (to be honest, I still write and read fanfiction—this time of Seth Rollins and Sasha Banks, because I ship them so hard). I was so crazy about Randy Orton and Stacy Keibler, too. In fact, I shipped them way before the WWE made a storyline about them so when it actually happened, I was this crazy fangirl who just couldn’t stop squealing every time they had promos together.

    I’ve never missed a single live event here in Manila, and even though my mom was very much against my love for WWE, I found ways to save up and buy my own ticket each time. The obsession eventually died down sometime in college (around 2010), right before WWE was starting to become great again because of the NXT guys. But when they came here last September, even though I only knew a handful of wrestlers and had no idea who Cesaro, Kevin Owens or Sami Zayn were, I still bought a ticket and watched—and it was this moment that reignited my love for the WWE. Since then, I’ve had a lot of catching up to do.

    To be honest, the main reason I wanted to go to the Royal Rumble Viewing Party—aside from doing my part to #SaveFilipinoWrestling, because I know how much it’s grown in our country— was because I wanted to be surrounded by fans and supporters who are just as avid as I am. I mean, it’s a little difficult for a girl like me to still find wrestling fans in my circle—I used to have friends from grade school and high school in Poveda who were also huge fans, but they eventually outgrew it. My boyfriend and just about all my friends nowadays were only fans of (or were familiar with) the Attitude Era, so finding someone who’s still a fan up until now is rare, at least in my prim-and-proper, kilay-loving, skincare-obsessed world. Thankfully, my former colleague, Eco, and my college blockmate, Rie, were also game to attend the viewing party. (Funny story because before they even met in person, we started this WWE Facebook chat group about three months ago just so we could rant and rave about all things wrestling—and since then, our chat group has been so active.)

    I can’t think of a more perfect place to have the viewing party than at Skinny Mike’s because it automatically creates an ambiance that’s very fit for sports entertainment. It was just a little funny to be drinking beer and snacking on nachos at 7 AM, but whatever. All for the love and support of wrestling, right? I mean, I’m sure most of us woke up at 5 AM to make it in time—so that’s genuine commitment right there. Eco, Rie and I even agreed to meet up at 5:30 AM in Trinoma just so we could catch a P2P Bus to Glorietta 5, then book an Uber to Skinny Mike’s in time for the Cesaro/Sheamus vs. Karl Anderson/Luke Gallows match.

    I was so amazed by the number of people who attended, which made it even more fun to cheer, boo, and chant. The energy, despite it being so early in the morning, was just spectacular and contagious. During the first part of the show, we stayed on the third floor where eventually, we could no longer fit and some people had to watch standing up. Thankfully, right before the Rumble Match started, the bigger and more spacious second floor was cleared out--so we were able to transfer.

    As for the matches? Well, I would have loved to see more of the women on the actual show than the pre-show. I think the Tag Team Championship match should have been on the actual show as well. But other than those little things, I really loved the AJ Styles vs. John Cena match. I think it even tops their match at SummerSlam 2016.

    And though there weren’t a lot of surprise appearances in the Rumble Match itself, I thought it was okay. I just wasn’t very happy with the #30 spot—I think the rest of the WWE Universe can agree—even though I’m not a Roman Reigns hater. Despite that, I was honestly so thrilled that Randy Orton won—especially because I bet on him when he came out at #23 AND the fact that I’ll finally be able to watch him live at WrestleMania! I mean, it’s one thing to wait years and years and years to watch him live but he just never came to Manila; it’s another to actually watch one of my favorite wrestlers ever at the biggest stage of them all. Not to mention, watching WrestleMania live has always been part of my bucket list.

    In a nutshell, the viewing party was an incredibly fun experience. Sure, I could have just watched it in the comforts of my own home on the WWE Network (and saved myself the time and transportation expenses) but where’s the fun in that, when you can surround yourself with equally passionate fans while feeding off each other’s energy? I might have cheered too hard at one point that when I stood up a little violently, my chair tipped over and hit the guy behind me. If you’re that guy and if you’re reading this, I’m so sorry.

    Anyway, being there didn’t necessarily mean you all rooted for or hated the same guy. For example, I’m an AJ Styles fan but I’m also a John Cena fan—so when he won his 16th title, I was genuinely happy for him. But since we’re apparently an AJ Styles country, I kind of just made a silent fist bump in the air. And that’s really the beauty of the viewing party—in some small yet significant way, it makes you feel like you’re actually at the event itself—cheering, booing and chanting with the rest of the WWE Universe.

    Seeing the large PWR crowd for the first time at Skinny Mike’s was also really impressive, because it meant one thing—the growth of Filipino wrestling is unquestionably prevalent, and I can only hope it continues until someone gets discovered and who knows? Maybe we’ll be watching and cheering that person at a local viewing party someday!

    Photo by Stan Sy
    Gretchen Gatan is a freelance writer, beauty and lifestyle blogger, and makeup artist. She's determined to meet Seth Rollins at WrestleMania 33 when she catches it this April.
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    Item Reviewed: Wings, Chants & Beer at 7 AM: My Royal Rumble Viewing Party Experience Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Stan Sy
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