An out-of-the-ordinary trip to Charleston

A leisure excursion to the Mountain State’s capital this past weekend was enjoyable, but a bit strange if I am being completely honest.

Outings to Charleston or anywhere else aren’t a common occurence for someone as busy as a sports editor. I prefer to stay close to home during the year so as not to miss out on potential story ideas.

Coverage of the girls’ basketball, tennis and baseball high school state tournaments, as well quick hellos on my way to Beckley for state soccer activities and Huntington for regional tennis, well summarizes my annual travel log.

Work always comes first with a possible stop at Pies and Pints, the Adelphia, or Outback for lunch or dinner in the cards.

Anyway, my wife purchased World Wrestling Entertainment tickets for Friday’s show as my 30th birthday present. Sports entertainment is our guilty pleasure and neither of us had witnessed a live performance.

We know most of the action is fake, but a reasonable amount of art does exist in the genre.

Not injuring an opponent while appearing to do so is the main goal. Advanced moves must be performed with precision to avoid potentially life-altering outcomes for all competitors involved in an attempt.

Watching as entertainers hit a perfect high-flying move off the top rope or nail a German suplex always puts a smile on my face.

Sorry, I lost my train of thought for a moment…

Ah yes! Here it is again.

Plans were different from the beginning as my wife volunteered as driver (usually I am by myself). We left Parkersburg around 3:30 p.m., which would have put me in panic mode if this was a regular work outing, and arrived around 5 o’clock with two-and-a-half hours to kill before our show.

A brief stop at the Marriott for check-in wasn’t out of the ordinary, but our dinner selection sure was a surprise. Steak Au Poivre and Steak-frites at The Chop House aren’t on the menu when the newspaper covers your expenses. Shivers run down my spine now as I type and imagine a resonable exuse for a $50 meal for my bosses. One doesn’t exist.

Some of the looks we got eating a high-end meal in our wrestling shirts, mine featured a unicorn and a trombone among other coloful subjects, were some of the best reactions of the evening.

Cass and I wondered over to where we knew the wrestlers would be parking and entering the civic center shortly after dinner.

Bizarre doesn’t accurately describe seeing all the action around the usually dead media entrance for tournaments.

It was weird posing for a picture with a performer (Bobby Lashley) as a non-bias approach is the recipe for good journalism. Cheering openly is always frowned upon too. A behavior that carried over in me even at the start of the show.

I now know how Will Farrell’s character felt during an interview in “Talledega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.” I didn’t know what to do with my empty hands either. A pen, pad and camera were usually crammed between them in this particular building.

Proximity to the ring (we were four rows back) and an overall buzz around me quickly gave my hands a new purpose after the second match. Idle phalanges turned into pointers and fists for some fist bumps with my wife … She definitely nailed this present.

I am geniunly suprised I didn’t lose my voice from all the yelling, but somehow I didn’t.

I believed the strangeness of the night was over here but it wasn’t quite yet.

We returned to the Marriott for a late-night snack and two of the wrestlers were enjoying refreshments in our immediate vicinty. Lashley posed with me earlier, but the other was Braun Strowman, one of the top guys in the company right now, someone I enjoyed following since his debut three years ago.

Asking for a selfie was a no-brainer, but getting over the intimidation factor of asking the 6-foot-8, 385-pound giant was the hard part. We waited for about an hour-and-a-half before I decided it was now or never. Stuttering all over myself I somehow asked the question and was rewarded with a killer new Facebook profile shot.

A quick rest in a king size bed followed by a trip to Pies and Pints closed out the trip in somewhat normal fashion. Well, those two things and the fact I brought home something to write about too.

Contact Joe Albright at jalbright@newsandsentinel.com.


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