During the summer of 2007, my friends and I heard rumblings Ring of Honor (ROH) was going to follow up bringing Japanese legend Kenta Kobashi stateside by hiring none other than Mitsuharu Misawa for a two-night stint.
When it was confirmed, we immediately began making plans to fly from Texas to New York City, determined not to miss what could be our only opportunity -- outside of making a trip across the Pacific Ocean -- to see one of the greatest wrestlers to ever live.
We didn't know just how right we were.
Three years ago today, Misawa died at the age of 46 inside the ring during a tag team match for his Pro Wrestling NOAH promotion.
My trip to see him wrestle was nearly five years ago but I still remember just about every detail from the adventure from the flight out there, our hours-long stay in Manhattan and the exhausted journey back to Dallas.
How could I not?
The plan was simple.
Fly out to New York City and arrive mid-afternoon, attend Glory by Honor VI: Night 2, head back to LaGuardia Airport to spend the night before flying back the next morning.
In a little over 24 hours, I was in Dallas, Washington D.C., New York City, Chicago and then back in Dallas.
The night before my trip, an old friend from high school got married so I made an appearance there. Combining a last-minute trip to Wal-Mart to buy streamers and the frenzy-like excitement I felt, I didn't get to bed until around 3am as I laid on my friend's living room floor, watching WWE On Demand.
Our flight was scheduled to take off at 7:30am.
Hopped up on Red Bull and wrestle juice, we flew into the Big Apple -- making a stop in D.C. first -- and got aboard a bus that would take us to Harlem. On the bus, a man told us to try out the best pizza place in town but the catch was, we would have to take our own cheese. No worries there, as he also knew where the best cheese in the city was available.
He fell asleep literally minutes later.
Once in Harlem, we're handed flyers and pamphlets decrying everyone from Bill Clinton to Al Sharpton. I hop on the subway for the first time in my life and emerge in the middle of Times Square. We find the Manhattan Center and secure our place in line, filing in soon after.
The show itself was great.
The Briscoe Brothers taking on The Age of the Fall, Bryan Danielson in a brutal war against Takeshi Morishima and Chris Hero colliding with El Generico were just a few matches I saw. A gaggle of wrestlers I had only seen on DVD flowed back and forth to the ring. It was incredible.
But it wasn't until the advertised main event between Misawa and KENTA that I was truly in wrestling fan heaven.
The two, legend and upstart, battled back and forth. Near fall after near fall, I was certain at one point after KENTA nailed Miswa with a Go2Sleep, it was over and a new Global Honored Champion would be crowned.
Of course, Misawa would retain that evening in New York City and I walked out into the brisk Manhattan evening at nearly midnight, still electric over what I had seen.
One of my friends was exhausted, the other feeling sick but I was on cloud nine.
I couldn't believe, after years of watching old tapes and DVDs, I had managed to see one of my favorite wrestlers do what he did best in person. I still hold the memories near to my heart.
Thank you so much, Mr. Mitsuharu Misawa.
Thank you for everything.