Tag: olympics

Olympic Nightmares And Velveteen Dreams – WWE NXT Live!

Disclaimer: The good folks at World Wrestling Entertainment graciously hooked me up with tickets to their WWE NXT Live show recently, in St. Catharines, Ontario. This is my review of the event!

 

“WE. ARE. NXT!” 

When Johnny Gargano yelled those words, to conclude a fun night of wrestling matches, the audience burst into cheers, including my kids B and J. What started out as curiosity ended with two converted fans!

For the uninitiated, NXT is basically like the WWE’s minor league wrestling system. It is a roster of talented performers who aren’t quite ready for the big stage. Some of the wrestlers are brand new, some are experienced but still perfecting the intricacies needed to be called up one day, while others are big name “independent” workers  with built in fan bases who are adjusting to the WWE style. Whereas WWE promotes itself as “sports entertainment”, NXT has a more pro wrestling vibe to it. Less talking, more in-ring action.  NXT has its own weekly TV show and regular pay-per-views, as well as their own merchandise. It’s really not a reach to say that some of the stars in NXT are just as popular as WWE ones.

In our house, I do find myself watching wrestling more lately. It’s one of the few shows that I can put on and follow while doing other dad duty stuff, without having to pay attention too closely. Yo, with three kids, to paraphrase Batista, it’s like distractions are not only welcomed, but encouraged.

B will watch with me sometimes, but he’s not that familiar with the NXT brand. J, conversely, only knows John Cena. However, both are pretty open-minded when it comes to outings, so I knew they’d be down for some live wrestling action. Plus, J had told me recently that she wanted to be a princess when she grew up. Now, I know some princesses are pretty empowering. However, I also know that some are just side pieces for their Prince Charmings. I figured it would be a good opportunity to expose J to some other strong female characters.

In terms of the show, the Meridian Centre was about two thirds full. From what I could tell, the crowd was mainly families (with more small girls there around J’s age than I expected), and 20ish/30ish year old looking “smart fans”; that is, the more hardcore wrestling fans who know the behind the scenes stuff. Trust me, this made a difference.

To work on their money skills, I had a little contest going, where before each match, B and J would make a prediction as to who they thought would win. If they were right, I would give them 25 cents. Since they are little kids, their automatic pick would be to pick the good guy or girl, so they could boo the baddies. I’ve been to WWE shows before, and since those crowds tend to have more casual fans in them, they will play along, and cheer/jeer appropriately. With the NXT crowd, though, the smart fans just cheered their own personal favorites! For example, one wrestler named Velveteen Dream is a heel (bad guy). However, he’s such a cool, great performer, that, as soon as his music hit, the place went nuts. B and J both asked me if he was good or bad. All I could say was that he was in the middle. They then both picked him to win. Unfortunately, he lost to another crowd favorite, Aleister Black, in an awesome match.

Velveteen Dream, soaking in the adulation.

The crowd also popped huge when Richochet’s name appeared on the jumbo screen, and he showed up. This was one of his first matches in NXT, as he hadn’t been on the TV shows yet. So to me, it was unexpected that he got such a big reaction.  However, he is a star outside of WWE. Dude’s an incredible athlete, and did some stuff that I had never seen before, in his match with Buddy Murphy.

Not every thing was bizarro world, though. By far, the wrestler who got the most heat was a Marcell Barthel, an arrogant German. Earlier that day, Germany had stunned Canada at the Olympics in hockey, crushing our gold medal dreams. Barthel made sure to mention this to us, which got him booed out of the building, unsurprisingly.

Also unsurprisingly was J’s favorite contest – the women’s three way match between Nikki Cross (dat gurl be cray cray), Aliyah (who bragged about reppin’ Toronto, and hated on St. Catharines, so she got booed hard) and the NXT Women’s Champion, Ember Moon. J really liked Moon. I tried to say she was a butt-kicking warrior princess, but J took that to mean she was the Queen. Eh, close enough.

All in all, it was a fun night out, with a lively crowd. If you had no idea who the performers were going in, they all did such a good job in getting their characters over, and the audience was so into them, that it was easy to be invested in the outcomes of the matches. B and J went in blind, and a week later, they still randomly talk about Johnny Wrestling (Johnny Gargano), Mrs. Wrestling (Candice LeRae, Gargano’s wife), the Queen, or Velveteen Dream. I’ll add that even though my tickets were free, NXT Live is reasonably priced, as well. For our event, cheap seats weren’t that much more than taking the family to a 3D movie, for example. I also appreciated that, at least from our vantage point, the audience respected the kids in attendance, so the chanting and yelling was not vulgar or profane.

Thanks again, WWE. If NXT Live comes to your town, as Billy Red Lyons use to say, don’t cha dare miss it!

 

All Play, No Work

Make no mistake about it, the bedtime routine in our house still kind of sucks.

Sure, there are occasions where B and J, when told to go to bed, will happily oblige, settle down for the night, and be asleep in no time.

There are also occasions where February has 29 days.

This occurs about as often as an easy bedtime for us.

See, what usually happens is that when B and J know  Mr. Sandman is coming, they’re like Olympic runners nearing the finish line. They get one final adrenaline rush, and to quote Fat Joe, go ALL THE WAY UP! 

Unfortunately, some of these ALL THE WAY UP nights are so bananas , that I gotta give them their own category, which I’ve dubbed The Bedtime WTF Awards.

The other night was one of those nights. Ladies and gentleman, your nominees are:

1.

K left to pick up some stuff, so it was just me with the kids.

Before going to bed, B and J were assigned a very straightforward  task- clean up the playroom which they had spent the afternoon destroying:

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The first thing that they decided to do?

Instead of putting on pyjamas, they stripped down to their underwear.

2.

I went downstairs to do some tidying up. After a few minutes of silence, I heard footsteps, followed by B screaming, followed by laughter. A few seconds later, there were footsteps, followed by J screaming, followed by laughter. I went up, to see what was going on:

Me – “What are you doing?”

B – “Oh, we’re just pretending that we’re walking by and don’t know we’re there, and jumping out and scaring each other.”

When you were little, did you a play a rousing game of “half-naked creeper terrifies innocent bystander?” Of course you didn’t (but if you did…….how are you reading this from your jail cell?).

Anyway,  I squashed that game, and told them to get back to cleaning.

3.

Note this for later – J smelled delicious. Her and B  told me that she put some scented hand cream on, because J wanted to smell nice for work, or something like that.

4.

I supervised them for a bit, and watched them put toys in a big toy bin. Things were going well, so I left them alone. Not long after, I heard the sound of something being dragged.  Confused, I went up to check.  The toy bin had been emptied, and J was now sitting in it, with B using the rope handle to pull it along.

B – ” I’m just taking her for a ride!”

pulling

While impressed by B’s strength for a six year old boy, I was also annoyed.  The playroom was now messier than before. I squashed their rousing game of  Toronto rickshaw tour driver, and once again told them to get to work, in no uncertain terms.

5.

I monitored them for a few minutes, to keep them on track. Satisfied with the progress, I decided to leave, to resume my cleaning.  After a good long time of blissful, shenanigan-free silence, I came back to the playroom, to see how it was looking.

When I walked in, B was bent over to the top of a shelving unit, butt in the air.

J, meanwhile, was holding a fly swatter, as if she were about to hit him in the underwear with it.

I didn’t even ask what they were doing.
I just cut their rousing game of 50 Shades of Grey short, and told them to get clothes on ASAP.

6.

After about an hour in the room, here is how B and J made out on their mission:

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The playroom looks exactly the same!

Hey, it doesn’t look exactly the same! Do you see the toy microphone that was in the first picture? No, because they put it away!

Regardless, after this lacklustre effort, K eventually came home. The kids’ mission was deemed a failure for the evening, and they were sent to their rooms. While upstairs, K asked about the smell. I told her that J got into some hand cream.

After more inspection, we realized that she didn’t just get into the cream.

She got the cream into one of the toilets. As in, she smeared it all over the inside of the bowl.

quote

That night’s winner? The toilet. It smelled like candy canes for days afterwards.

That night’s loser?  Me.

The Shot

I’m a real sucker for “dad” moments in sports.

You know, those heartwarming incidents that happen during a game or event, which really highlight the love between a father and their children.

From Jeff Hornacek wiping his face during free throw attempts as a way to secretly say hi to his kids, to the dude who saved his son’s head from a flying bat, to Derek Redmond’s pops jumping out of the stands to help him finish an Olympic race,  to (my personal fav) John McDonald fulfilling a promise he made to his dying dad by hitting a home run on Father’s Day, stuff like this really gets to me.

And to these iconic moments, I’ll add one of my own, one which will forever be known (in our house anyway) as The Shot.

It occurred during  three-pitch softball recently, where B had come with me to my game. Despite it being a fun, recreational co-ed league, there are a ton of people in it who can flat out crush the ball. Yours truly, however, is not one of them. Possessing shallow outfield pop-fly power, I am the most slap-single happy guy in the whole league.

While effective, this isn’t exactly sexy.  Other kids at games cheer their dads on to “hit a homer!” Meanwhile, B gets to watch his old man leg out infield grounders. As a result, B’s taken to the sluggers on our team, and roots for them more than me, because, well, dingers!

Glad you find that funny, Bryce Harper

Glad you find that funny, Bryce Harper.

Which brings me to The Shot.

 

B had been having a blast playing ball boy that day. When a foul ball was hit, he would run to retrieve it, and throw it back on the field.

As I was waiting on deck, for my turn to bat, B came over to me and said “Daddy? I’m going to go over there (he pointed to the backstop, behind home plate). Can you hit a foul ball to me?”

Now, besides having no power, I should mention that I also have no aim. I’ve never picked a spot and hit a ball to it. I’d have just as little a chance of perfectly fouling off a pitch as I would of hitting a home run.

So of course I told B that I would hit a ball to him!

As he excitedly ran off to the backstop, it dawned on me what a bad idea this potentially was. I would only have two chances to perfectly foul off a pitch (I couldn’t get out by wasting the third pitch). On top of that, there was a decent crowd of people.  I would have to hit it in the area that B was, so he alone could retrieve the ball. I also had to hope that the ball wouldn’t injure someone, too.

Negative thoughts filled my head when I stood at the plate. I pictured me swinging, and having the ball bounce off my face, shattering my nose. As I bled profusely, B would laugh and call me a failure, and immediately seek emancipation from his loser dad. Maybe Kelly Clarkson would write a song about it.

428px-Kelly_Clarkson_Blue_Angels

Glad you find that funny, Kelly Clarkson.

Anyway, with all that on my mind, the pitcher threw the ball.

As it neared, I took an uppercut swing.

CRACK!

The ball floated up. It sailed back. Back over the backstop…..back over B……and landed and rolled safely, a good 20 feet behind him.

B happily sprinted off, scooped it and proudly threw it back onto the field.  After the game, he was more turnt up about that play, than any other hit or home run. #winning

Against all reasonable explanation, I said that I would hit a foul ball to my son, and I did it. I called my shot, forever to be known as The Shot.

Babe Ruth would be proud. Or  indifferent. Definitely indifferent.

Babe Ruth would be envious. Or  indifferent. Definitely indifferent.

 

Now truth be told, B’s probably forgotten about this little play, and I’m the only one who still thinks it was awesome .

That’s cool, though.

You see, in baseball and in parenting, we can’t all be home run hitters.  All we can do is try our best. Sometimes we’ll strike out. Sometimes we’ll hit a single. Sometimes, we’ll knock one out of the park.

And sometimes, on that rare occasion, a foul ball will be just as good as a homer.

SAYNG

The Good Ol’ Hockey Game

 

Smiley_Olympics

Oh Canada! The Olympic men’s hockey finals this week  was kind of a big deal.  The night before, I set my alarm to go off just before the game started, 6:45 AM. The next morning, I woke up, went downstairs, and saw the fam already there. Were they up to watch, too, chock full of national pride?

Nah.

K was sleeping on the couch, while B and J were watching Disney Junior. Me changing the channel was met with snoring/mumbling from K, loud complaining from B, and J whining while angrily stripping down to her diaper. Pretty much a lost cause, so I  made some coffee, and went back to my room to watch the game there.

K gravitated upstairs not long afterwards, which left the kids downstairs…. alone! Cue the studio audience saying “Ooooooh”.   They were quiet, and I didn’t hear them doing anything (which is always a good sign, amiright, parents?).  I went to check on them at the first intermission. I found them in their coats and boots (J was still in her diaper, so this was all that she had on), just about to go out the front door.
Me – ‘What are you doing??’
B – ‘Nothing.’
Me – ‘Where are you going???’
B – ‘We are going to the car, to get my B.EA.R. book.’
The book was in clear view beside him, sticking out his backpack, so I showed it to him.
Me – ‘You mean this book?’
B – ‘Oh. Yeah.’
He grabbed it, took off his boots and jacket, and went to read it. Pretty sure he was lying about going to get the book. Maybe they were going to a bar to watch the rest of the game? Good thing he forgot to get the car keys. #heis4yearsoldhecantdrive
I stayed downstairs for the rest of the game, however, to make sure that they didn’t try to go on any joyrides.

When the game ended (Canada, what!? Knock knock? Who’s there? Gold medal to the face, that’s who’s there!) I tried to get the kids to watch the medal ceremony. After the first Swede got his silver, they got bored, wanted snacks instead. Kids, nowadays, they have no appreciation for historical moments, sheesh.  They gobbled some fruit up, then went back upstairs. A few minutes later, while I was humming Oh Canada, B told me that J had dumped the ‘metal things again.’

WTF?

Turns out, she had poured a big box of staples all over the floor. Maybe she thought that they were shiny confetti, and she was celebrating the victory? If picking hundreds of staples out of a carpet was an Olympic event, I would have a won the gold that morning (Knock knock? Who’s there? Silver staples in your feet, sucker, that’s who’s there).
‪#‎GoCanadaGo‬

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