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Cup of coffee in the big time: Halftime Heat 1999 made me a backyard wrestler

Halftime Heat 1999 was a perfect storm in my teenage life. A bunch of us kids hanging out to watch the Super Bowl, but more importantly to watch The Rock and Mankind do battle while Big Bad Voodoo Daddy (along with Gloria Estefan and Stevie Wonder, but they’re no fun to make fun of) did their thing in front of 74,803 fans in Miami.

We were watching in a friend’s garage which had been converted to some sort of hangout space and being a collection of dumb kids, when the match came on, we started to hit each other with wrestling moves.

The “match” between all of us lasted pretty much through Rock’s comically bad acting as the forklift lowered onto him and through the second half of the game.

When all was said and done, the seed was planted for the start of our backyard wrestling federation.

We’d spend a couple years pouring money into buying cookie sheets, folding chairs and various other foreign objects and hitting up a local park where we used a small bridge as an entryway, a picnic table as a commentary table and a slide as our “top rope.”

Despite plenty of dumb ideas like deciding I should get hit in the head by a flaming stick, we only had a single broken arm when it came to real injuries. That may be the most fortunate part of the whole story.

That period of time remains some of the most pure fun of my life and led to flirtations with wrestling professionally that ultimately never really went anywhere — though I do have a great story about working a show that starts with Dan Severn setting up a ring, ends with an old stripper and features a severed toe and a Toughman contest in the middle.

It’s another layer in my lifelong love of wrestling and so many of the best times can be traced back to a silly empty arena match between guys who would become the biggest star in Hollywood and a best selling author.

God bless you, wrestling. You are forever the weirdest, best thing.

In honor of talking about backyard wrestling, here’s a death defying clip from one of the best Twitter accounts going:

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