Wrestlemania 33

The week before this was undoubtedly the worst in my entire life. My uncle died unexpectedly and that’s rocked my entire family. On top of that, I’ve been crazy sick stemming from Ultra Music Festival — and even ended up in the ER for the first time ever.

But like it’s been my entire life, wrestling lifted my spirits — and, man, did I need it badly this time around as WrestleMania 33 took over my new home in Orlando. Better yet, my oldest brother, also a hardcore wrasslin’ fan like myself, came to visit with his wifey. The family time was much-needed. 

Saturday morning at Wrestlecon has to be one of the happiest moments of my life and that’s not hyperbole. For non-wrassling fans, Wrestlecon is a giant wrestling convention that brings together the most diehard fans with past, present, and future wrestling stars. It was pure bliss.

My brother and I got to shoot the shit with all the wrasslers we grew up watching and imitating — Kevin Nash, Rob Van Dam, Billy Gunn, Eric Bischoff, John Morrison, Sting, Gillberg, and so many more. 

Biggest Wrestlecon highlights:

  • Bischoff calling Vince Russo a “fucking douchebag.” 
  • The always-relaxed RVD lecturing us on his disdain for schedules. Mr. Monday Night is a free spirit — commitments be dammed. 
  • The jobber Brooklyn Brawler begging my brother to give him $20 for a picture. Know your role and shut your mouth, jabroni!
  • Me and my brother spitting game at Melena, who looks a lot different than she did 10 years ago with MNM.   

As for WrestleMania itself, it was a thrill ride — albeit a super long seven-hour one. This is now the third Mania I’ve attended, the other two being 28 and 31, and all three have been off the charts. But if for whatever reason I had to rank them from most enjoyable to least — it goes 28, 31, and then 33. 

But that’s no shade to 33. I mean, the Hardy Boys return in the ladder match was an all-time great surprise. Brock Lesnar suplexing Goldberg to hell and back was fun, too. And seeing Undertaker — perhaps the biggest legend in WWE history — ride off into the sunset, that was a special, albeit heart-tugging, moment. 

I'm seriously making WrestleMania weekend an annual vacation for me here on out. Few things compare to it. New Orleans, I'm coming for you next year!

Walden: Life In The Woods

“Chased the good life my whole life long. Look back on my life and my life gone.” — Yeezy in Welcome To Heartbreak

Today is weird. A giant snow blizzard sweeping across the north delayed my #NYCSpringBreak2k17 trip an entire day. So I’ve spent this extra day of down time self-reflecting. In summary, life is crazy.

While giving my website a face lift, I stumbled across my old site. There’s not much to see, but it’s a small capsule of my state of mind as a 19-year-old. The page’s theme layout hasn’t aged well, but screams CM Punk-y to me, which makes sense because this was at the height of my fandom. Moreover, there are three articles on there I wrote in my JOUR 207 class with Ben Holden — still one of my GOAT professors.

I was actually blown away how good the articles were. To preface, I was 100-percent dialed in on writing during this period. My focus was laser-like. To be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever been zoned in on a goal as much as I was then. A career in sports journalism felt like my destiny and my work reflected that.  The Ken Shamrock piece is probably one of the best stories I’ve ever penned — and if I remember correctly, was the only 100 percent Holden gave out to a student that semester (even the video I made for it has north of 10k views). The other two articles, while lacking some key sources, are pretty well-written, too.

When looking at my writing career arc, late 2012 to early 2013 was my peak. It’s weird, though. I kept writing long after and still do to this day. But why was I at my best so early? The only explanation I have is that focus I had. I mean, I dedicated my whole life to writing during that stretch — skipping parties and everything. My passion for writing was at a fever pitch.

That passion is what I’m missing nowadays. I’m doing a lot of dope shit — MBA classes, running two social media accounts for large organizations, writing on the side, trying to open a shoe-selling business, etc. But none of them give me a fire like writing did at the time. Will I ever replicate that burning passion?

I hope so, but I don’t know. In my Management course, we took a Big Five personality test. Unlike the DISC or Myers Briggs test, the former test is more supported by data. The test measures you on five key traits — openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. I received scores on all five, but my highest — perfect score, actually — came in openness. This trait measures how inventive and curious you are, which apparently I am to the max.

Some key characteristics of people that score high on openness is non-conforming, playful, philosophical, creative, less religious, more liberal, cope well with change. I check each one of those boxes.  I’m 24 years old now, but I feel I’m barely getting a good grasp of who I am. I still have ways to go, but my self awareness has definitely gone up recently.

Above all, I’m passionately curious about life. That dead-set personality I had as a 19-year-old is buried in the back of my mind. Nowadays, the thought of finding one career, one chick, one city to chase for the rest of my life saps my energy. The only thing worth pursuing is new experiences to help me understand life and myself more.

With that, my focus is like a rollercoaster. One day I’ll be glued in on figuring out how to use a bot to buy Yeezys, the next I’m digging through research on moon landing conspiracy theories. I don’t know if my lack of focus is a curse or blessing. On one hand, I know how beneficial it is to truly be a master at something. But that’s just not me. I hate being boxed in. I want to know a little bit about everything.

If I can back track a bit, it’s crazy how much my life has changed in the five years between my old website and now. I look back on 19-year-old me and I don’t even recognize that dude. My taste in clothes, chicks, music has changed ten-fold. I live across the country. My outlook on the life has totally flipped. I look back at the old Eric and all I have to say is kill self.

I guess that’s what we call progress, though. Seeing the 180-degree changes excites me about the future. In another five years, I’m going to be looking at this blog post and probably think the same thing. The future is so exciting, dude. Bring it!

2,500 miles across the United States

Road tripping across the United States has always been a dream of mine, likely planted by two of my favorite comedies ever — Dumb and Dumber and National Lampoon’s Vacation.

Naturally, when I decided to take my talents to Florida, I ditched a short 5-hour flight to Orlando in favor of a 2,500-mile and 40-hour expedition on the road instead. Screw conventional wisdom, man.

The entire trek was worth it and more. Here are some highlights and random tidbits:

  • Shoutout to my main dog, Surg Nunez, for joining me on the trip. Road tripping alone would’ve sucked. But with one of my best friends? That’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience, bro.
  • The entire trip spanned from Monday 9 am PST to Friday 4 am EST — a whopping total of 88 hours. We traveled through 11 states (Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, Florida). Seven of those states were completely new to me.
  • I tried Chick-Fil-A for the first time in Salt Lake City. Miss me with that KFC and Popeyes shit for the rest of my life. Chick-Fil-A’s waffle fries, sauce, and customer service all day!
  • Wyoming blows. That is all.
  • I almost died in Denver. While walking around 16th Street Mall — at 11 pm, mind you — I almost got my ass taken out by a public bus while I was glued to my phone. That’s right, a got damn bus was still chugging along at 11 FREAKIN’ PM along the outdoor mall, which is closed to all other traffic by the way. It was some Final Destination-esque shit, but I can proudly say I avoided death.
  • I expected the Rocky Mountains to be a little rockier than that. That John Denver is full of shit, man.
  • The 8-hour drive through Kansas was the most boring part of the trip. There’s a whole lot of nothing in that place. I feel bad that Superman grew up there.
  • St. Louis’ Gateway Arch is an amazing piece of architecture. Words don’t do it justice. Look at my pics below for a view from the ground level and 630-feet above.
  • Nashville was my favorite stop along the trip. Music City USA, as it’s nicknamed, is sneaky cool. For one, it’s incredibly scenic. Lots of hills and mountains — some of the last ones you’ll see before going any further south. The Cumberland River flows through downtown and right outside the Tennessee Titan’s stadium. Two, it’s popping as hell. Downtown features a few blocks with bar after bar, all equipped with live music or karaoke since Nashville is the hub for country music.
  • Speaking of country music, I had to stop by the Country Music Hall of Fame while there. I use to like country music a lot, while I don’t listen it much anymore, I still consider Johnny Cash the GOAT. Seeing the Man in Black’s exhibits and pictures was so cool.
  • Also in Nashville, we decided to play The Escape Game. Room escape games seem to be catching fire across the country as a team-building activity, but it was the first I played. It won’t be my last, either, because this was so fuckin’ fun. Our game was themed The Heist, tasking me and my teammates with solving riddles, finding clues, stealing a sacred painting, and escaping a locked room, all in under 60 minutes. Surg and I were teamed up with four randoms — two couples who were friends with each other. One of those dudes was cool AF. He was rocking a Led Zeppelin shirt, a graduate of Morehead State (who lost to my alma matter in the 2016 CBI Finals), openly dabbled in recreational drugs (according to his girlfriend), liked reading Malcolm Gladwell books like me, and he was missing a couple of screws… While playing the game, this guy was a man possessed — breaking objects in the room, connecting clues seemingly out of no where, and just doing random shit. Great guy, man! We ended up hitting our time limit with one step away from solving the entire mystery and escaping the room. So we lost, but screw it, we were close enough that the workers gave us a ‘W.
  • Kentucky was one giant letdown. For one, Colonel Sanders was no where to be found and you know the blue grass that the state is famous for? Well, guess what, it’s not even freakin’ blue! IT’S DARK GREEN! WTF, man?!?
  • Atlanta really bent us over, bro. They close all the tourist-y stuff at 5 pm. So we were shit out of luck hitting up World of Coca Cola and the College Football Hall of Fame AND Chick-Fil-A Experience (great sponsorship, by the way). Centennial Olympic Park is awesome, though. They have a mural with all the medal-earning athletes from the 1996 Olympics, which they hosted. We saw Floyd Mayweather Jr. as a bronze winner, the only loss of his career (which was a complete screwjob).
  • Daytona Beach at 2 am is kinda sketchy, but Surg got to see the Atlantic Ocean for the first time — and it completely shits on the Pacific Ocean.

RANDOM but don’t you hate when you take a bunch of dope pics, but they’re all on Snapchat? Either they’re lost in the Snapchat vortex forever or they’re blemished with filters. In 20 years when we’re reminiscing about our youth and uploading throwback pics, they’re going to be covered in geofilters, big ass emojis, and colorful drawings…