Happy Birthday Hulk Hogan, Play Nice

WP_20140811_13_21_22_ProMonday we built (and took apart) the stage for World Wrestling Entertainment at the Moda Center. It’s a freelance gig, I enjoy wholeheartedly. Great exercise, and I’m getting a behind-the-scenes (Heck – we build the scenes!) education about the worlds most popular musicians and other top-notch live productions.

Plus, we get to use tools! And operate heavy machinery!

Near the end of the Load In, my last assignment was to spray-paint the new WWE logo onto each side (and top) of as many equipment cases as possible. There are hundreds of cases; no small task. That’s when I had the bright idea to put the logo on the back of my shirt. Asked my nearest fellow stagehand to tag me with it. Badda-bing, badda-boom! Got a one of a kind souvenir.

Turned to a handsome beefcake in a suit, tending to his cell phone nearby. Had a feeling he must be one of them. (A few clicks of research led me to the affirmative answer: Dolph Ziggler!)

“What do you think? Does this make me part of the team?”

Ziggler said, “That’s exactly what I’m thinking.”

Our precious moment was interrupted by a couple super-buff dudes who could’ve been clones of each other. Had to be twins! (Tag Team Champions, Jey & Jimmy Uso.) They had something to discuss with Ziggler. And oh yeah! I was supposed to be working anyway.

Went home after Load In, had only a few hours before Load Out commenced. Made sure to get there early, just in case I found a way to catch the tail end of the show. There’s always a way.

Stopped in my tracks at the sight of Heavyweight World Champion, John Cena. He’s enormous! I’d noticed him earlier in the day, signing poster after poster at a little table backstage. But then he was fully dressed in plain clothes. Seated in a chair. Now he was wearing his teeny spandex skivvies, bulging and glistening from head to toe, with this air of confidence that you wouldn’t BELIEVE. And he was walking right toward me!

Had the pleasure of nearly bumping into him a couple times.

Almost as entertaining, was the little backstage pep talk, just before the finale. The man speaking was the guy in charge of the entire production, the supreme perfectionist, owner of WWE: Vince. But I couldn’t see him. My view was obscured by spandex-clad, greased-up-shiny, muscles. The whole gang of elite WWE superstars was tuning in. This was important: “Now everyone is going out there to sing Happy Birthday to Hulk Hogan.”

That’s when I saw Hulk there too, somewhat glowering in the corner.

Vince continued, “If you have beef with someone, do NOT stand by them.”

So they could at least appear to be enjoying themselves.

A hard rock version of Happy Birthday commenced. Thousands of red and yellow balloons were dropped. Then the lights went up to the sound of endless balloon-popping, while we dispersed to take the whole thing apart and pack it back into the trucks. For the entire four-hour Load Out, red and yellow confetti continued to drift down from the rafters.

Happy 61st, Hulk Hogan!

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