Year By Year

With one week to go before WrestleMania 34, I'm recalling the last 33 years in my life and in 'Mania.

In 1985 Tito Santana made The Executioner submit to his figure-four leglock. I was one.

In 1986 Rowdy Roddy Piper lost a boxing match to Mr. T when he picked up the A-Team star and threw him to the mat. I don’t remember it now, but when my sister went to school, I experienced a sample of life as the only child in the house.

In 1987, Hulk Hogan body slammed Andre the Giant in front of a purported live crowd of 93,137. Some of my earliest memories come from the VHS tape of that show, that match.

In 1988, The Macho Man won four matches in one night, culminating a victory over The Million dollar Man to win his first world championship. I started kindergarten.

In 1989, Miss Elizabeth refused to pick a side, and stood in a neutral corner to support both wrestlers when The Mega Powers—Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage—came to blows. I won a foot race among all of kindergarten kids on the last day of school, in what may have been the greatest athletic accomplishment of my life.

In 1990, Roddy Piper painted half of his body black before a match with Bad News Brown in what was generally considered an ill-advised attempt at positive message about race relations. I played Super Mario Bros. for the first time.

In 1991, The Macho Man hit The Ultimate Warrior with five consecutive elbow drops from the top rope, and still lost. I played AYSO soccer for the green team.

In 1992, Bret Hart countered Roddy Piper’s sleeper hold into a beautiful bridging pin to win back the Intercontinental Championship. I read Patricia C. Wrede’s Dealing with Dragons and, for the first time, understood why people like to read.

In 1993, Doink the Clown beat a man into unconsciousness with a prosthetic arm. My best friend (now of twenty-five years) and I had our first conversation on the school bus over an issue of WWF Magazine.

In 1994, Razor Ramon defeated Shawn Michaels in the WWF’s first live broadcast of a Ladder Match. I took an interest in basketball for the first time when the Knicks went to the NBA Finals.

In 1995, Lawrence Taylor turned in the celebrity performance of a lifetime and nailed Bam Bam Bigelow with a forearm off the middle rope to pin in him in the main event. I asked out a girl for the first time.

In 1996, Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart worked the longest match in WrestleMania history at 61 minutes, 52 seconds. I spent the first of 19 summers (to date) at CTY.

In 1997, Stone Cold Steve Austin refused to submit to Bret Hart’s Sharpshooter and passed out in the hold instead while gushing blood from his forehead. I started writing my first novel.

In 1998, Mike Tyson counted the pin when Steve Austin defeated Shawn Michaels to win his first world championship. I tanked my Earth Science final.

In 1999, Triple H and Chyna reunited as good guys only to turn heel together later in the show. I kicked of the year sitting alone watching episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer I’d recorded off of TV onto VHS.

In 2000, Triple H became the first heel to ever win the last match of a WrestleMania. I got my first job, folding sweaters at a discount clothing store in the mall.

In 2001, Steve Austin pinned The Rock and then clinked beer cans with Vince McMahon in the middle of the ring, newly aligned characters, not to mention real-life business characters toasting WWF buying out WCW. I graduated from high school and started college.

In 2002, The Rock defeated Hulk Hogan in an intergenerational dream match. I shaved my head.

In 2003, Brock Lesnar nearly broke his neck when he undershot on a Shooting Star Press against Kurt Angle. I went an OAR show that was one of the best live concert experiences I’d ever had.

In 2004, Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero celebrated the two of them holding world championships while confetti rained from the rafters at Madison Square Garden. I finished my first year as editor in chief of the college paper and decided to come back for another year.

In 2005, John Cena won his first world title. I got to speak at commencement.

In 2006, Edge speared Mick Foley through a flaming table. My best friend and I decided to start a website about a cappella music.

In 2007, The Undertaker stole the show in a minor epic with Batista, pinning The Animal after a Tombstone piledriver. I spent the summer working at Princeton.

In 2008, Ric Flair lost his final WWE match to Shawn Michaels. I started a new life in Baltimore.

In 2009, The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels put on an all-time classic match, and I was there for WrestleMania live for the first time.

In 2010, Bret Hart returned to wrestle his first WWE match in over twelve years. I visited Europe for the first time.

In 2011, Michael Cole defeated Jerry Lawler by disqualification in the worst WrestleMania match of all time. I was a groomsman for my dear friend Will’s wedding.

In 2012, Sheamus pinned Daniel Bryan in the shortest world title match in WrestleMania history (clocking in at eighteen seconds). I finished my first master’s degree.

In 2013, John Cena pinned The Rock for the WWE Championship. I jumped out of a plane and asked Heather on our first date a couple hours later.

In 2014, Brock Lesnar became the first man in twenty-two years to defeat The Undertaker at WrestleMania. I moved to Oregon to start my MFA program and move in with Heather for the first time.

In 2015, Seth Rollins became the first man to cash in a Money in the Bank championship opportunity in the middle of a WrestleMania main event. I participated in two weddings that summer: the officiant for Peek and Missy’s, the best man for Scalise and Amy's.

In 2016, Shane McMahon jumped off the top of a Hell in a Cell cage, through a table. Heather and I got married.

In 2017, The Hardy Boyz made a surprise return and won the tag team championships in a four-way Ladder Match. I found out my wife was pregnant the morning of the show; my son was born in December.