My name is Brando and I’m a wrestling fan.

Say what you want but everybody has a little geek in them. Whether it be liking Justin Beiber, any episode of a certain trashy television show or any form of event where you’re suckered into spending $10 for a “possible” good time – you have a geek in you.

I found my geek at age 3; back when I used to stuff toy guns in my diapers because my grandfather was a military man who loved fights. He used to sit me on his lap and we’d figure out a way to wrestle the remote from his new girlfriend (my grandmother passed only a month after I was born) to watch anything with a fight. Once he found an episode of WWF Superstars, I was caught in the web of contrived storylines, men with superhero builds (later to be obvious steroid usage) and a fairly tale good versus evil approach.

I had my champion of the day, Hulk Hogan. Bought into that eat your vitamins and say your prayers shtick until I found myself fighting a Hulk Hogan buddy and a Macho Man Randy Savage buddy almost day in and day out when I wasn’t at school. Few folks in elementary school would openly admit they loved wrestling – until middle school when the WWF was booming like never before.

Yes, everybody I knew back then was a wrestling fan. The girls loved the Hardy Boyz for some strange reason and it was either universal that you either were a “Stone Cold” Steve Austin fan or a Rock fan. Maybe both if you actually knew wrestling. Of course nobody really cared that wrestling was fake. After all we’d gush over Jerry Springer somehow taking over the world during the summers.

By the nineties though, I had only one real favorite wrestler – Shawn Michaels. I don’t mean in terms of being better on the microphone or anything but for the sake of god given talent Michaels was Top 5 Dead or Alive. I grew up with Shawn, maybe not in the same way my friend Lemarian has since the two almost parallel in life. But for every big time Shawn Michaels moment – I was there.

Ladder Match with Razor Ramon at WrestleMania X.

1995-96 Royal Rumble wins.

Ironman Match with Bret Hart at WrestleMania XII.

Montreal Screwjob at Survivor Series ’97.

Michaels/Austin at WrestleMania XIV.

After that last match with Austin, I realized that something happened bad at the Royal Rumble in January. Michaels had kept going on and off TV for awhile in the past (IC title issues, the ass-kicking by the Marines, etc.) but I noticed the moment his back landed awkwardly during a casket match with The Undertaker – something was gone.

That back injury nobody really knew if it was serious or Michaels was protecting himself for Austin in March. Watching that match, you could see Shawn wincing at every single bump he took. He knew his job, hurt or not he was going to steal the show. Like he did at the last two out of three WrestleMania events when he was actually on the card.

Austin won, Mike Tyson hit him with a one hitter quitter, the world cheered and no eyes were on Shawn. When footage arose that Chyna and Triple H had to carry him, literally carry him to the back – it was over to me. The greatness that was Shawn Michaels from at least 1994-98 wasn’t coming back. Retirements in wrestling don’t usually stick (ask Ric Flair) but this was one I immediately knew was it.

Then in 2002, a full four years after the injury – Michaels returned. Was he a little off? Yes, who wouldn’t be? By then it was me slinging catchphrases from Austin-Rock and being visually drained after watching their match from WrestleMania X7 (still the best WrestleMania ever, almost a full ten years ago). Fact is, the best in-ring performer of my generation had come back into the picture and after picking up some titles and having major feuds, the knee injuries were catching up to him.

I was in college now and frankly, I found some solace in knowing I still had a few geek friends of my own who loved wrestling – maybe even more than I did. Somehow, I had convinced my ex-girlfriend last year to do me one favor for my birthday – attend WrestleMania with me. And it happened, she of course being a big Undertaker fan and me never fully appreciating that tall, makeup wearing bastard because he used to scare me when I was little.

Yeah, I had dreams of him giving Tombstone Piledrivers to the entire Brando family.

So of all the fates, it was my favorite wrestler and hers going at it in probably the greatest match I’ve ever seen in person. I stood dumbfounded after Michaels kicked out of a Tombstone. Nobody kicks out of that move. The look on the Undertaker’s face after he did was not only worth every single dollar spent on the event, it turned into a running joke for this year’s WrestleMania.

Of course Taker won the match, raising his WrestleMania undefeated streak to 17-0 (which is obviously the best not-real streak in the history of sport. There’s no real comparison) and for the remaining 350+ days leading up to this years Maina, all my friends (well, me, Lemarian & Kirk anyway) decided that they might have to run with that same match again. Either that or have Shawn vs. Triple H.

Knowing wrestling and knowing Vince McMahon – he wants money. The money match more than anything was Taker/Michaels 2. And it got jacked up even more when Michaels put his career on the line for this one. Mind you, wrestlers and retirements usually don’t work. At most, they come back maybe six, seven months later. With Michaels, you knew it. If he was really willing to put that aspect of his life on the line – he really was going to retire.

And stay that way.

So yes, I plopped down $64.95 to watch an event in which all the winners was pre-determined, the build-up was lengthy to every single match and the only real toss-up was the main event. Did you want to see the streak broken? If you were a Shawn Michaels fan, of course. Did you want to see HBK, the best wrestler of the past 20 years retire? At the price of the streak – you would have wanted it to happen.

Every single near fall, spot, kept me and my two friends on the edge of our seats. We didn’t want Shawn to lose because he was the best. Hell, for the past eight WrestleMainas (19-26) Michaels either had the best match on the card or came really damn close. You can’t say that about any other wrestler who on the biggest stage of them all – showed out 7 years straight.

Psychology played into the match because if anything like a real fight, you were going to pinpoint on one weakness and stay on it. This year, it was Taker’s legs. When Shawn hit a moonsault (think a backflip without landing on your feet) on Takers legs, it only made sense. Of course the words Michaels and moonsault as synonymous for failure – since that’s what doomed him against Taker last year.

After the second Tombstone (first one was outside on the mat) and the crossed arms for the pin, Michaels kicked out. We went crazy. He could pull this out and stop all of this Deadman crap we’ve been dealing with for an entire year. Yes, we were Team Shawn and when Taker told him to stay down, we knew he wouldn’t. When he did the throat slit like Taker does, we knew Taker would be pissed. When he pimp slapped Taker and Taker came back highly pissed off – we knew.

Super Tombstone. For the three.

With that, the greatest in-ring performer of the last 20 years was done. If it was him leaving for real – it’s another classic for the books. But what does that do for me and wrestling? Do I stop thinking about every March or April as a day I can spend some money on a giant PPV? I’ve ordered three of the last four and went to one. I’m not a John Cena fan by any means and any other PPV that comes up, I stream it online.

I didn’t really do much when Flair “retired” two years ago. Mainly because that was the best to ever do it and he was a serious shell of his former self. Michaels on the other hand, still has it. He could probably wrestle a person who has never been in the ring to a respectable match. But, I probably won’t get it.

Shawn gave a farewell speech last night. He cried, old women cried, I couldn’t bitch up and cry but I was a little hurt. He walked away on his own terms, unlike Flair who constantly kept getting shots thrown his way during Michaels’ speech. Right now, the greatest wrestler ever is falling through holes in TNA. Yes, TNA.

If there was one regret as a fan, I would have hoped for one and I do mean one match between Michaels and The Rock. Well, that’s what Smackdown vs. Raw is for I guess.

So, I think I’m done with paying for WrestleMania. Well, until I have children and the business keeps on going and my young son tells me he’s a wrestling fan. And the cycle shall continue. I just hope he doesn’t like John Cena though.