It was soon time to head back to reality . . . but not just yet.
When WrestleMania 32, WWE's biggest event of the year, officially concluded on April 3, it felt like the end of the trip. I knew it wasn’t long until Parker Schmidt and I had to board a plane and head back home.
However, we still had one more day in Dallas, and Schmidt and I made sure to make the most of it.
We knew prior to heading out on the trip that there wasn't going to be much to do the day following WrestleMania besides Monday Night Raw, which wasn't until 6 p.m., Central time.
Knowing this, Schmidt asked if I wanted to do the John F. Kennedy assassination tour. I agreed.
After all, who knows if I'll have the opportunity to experience something like that again? I had no idea what to expect, though.
On Nov. 22, 1963, Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States, was shot and killed in Dallas, allegedly by Lee Harvey Oswald. The tour showed us where everything happened and the story behind it all.
We had a tour guide drive us around in a replica version of the same car in which Kennedy was killed. It was pretty cool, but a little scary at the same time.
The streets in downtown Dallas are marked with X's to remember where all the significant moments occurred on that tragic day. As the tour guide went on with telling the story of what happened, I was fascinated.
I'm not a person who knows much about American history, so all of it was new to me. I honestly felt like I was in a time machine and was re-living it all. Especially during a certain part of the tour.
We were taken to the house where Oswald had lived. Once we got there, I started feeling uneasy. The tour guide told us that little had been modified since Kennedy's assassination.
In fact, a lady who lived with Oswald at the house still is there.
“This is really creepy, dude,” I said to Schmidt.
“This is how things were back in the day,” he replied, with a laugh. “Old school!”
Then the tour guide took us to Oswald's room. Schmidt and I went to pose for a picture beside Oswald's bed.
Once that was done, all I wanted to do was get out of there as fast as I could. As we prepared to leave, the guide asked if we wanted to donate some money that would go towards maintaining the house, which is quite old. Schmidt and I put in a couple dollars.
I just wanted to get out of there. But, wait, the tour guide wasn't finished.
“(The lady living at the house) wants to know who has visited the house. You write your name, email address and location,” the tour guide explained. “If she doesn't recognize a place, she likes to Google it.”
Schmidt wrote everything down. I knew if I did it, it would just slow everything down. I was trying to escape. Once we finally exited, I felt a relief.
“I'm glad I'm out of that place,” I said to Schmidt and the guide. “That was really scary.”
They both just laughed.
At the end of the tour, as much as it was a fun and educational experience, I was so glad it was done.
It was over around lunch time, so Schmidt and I went and grabbed a couple of sandwiches at a place nearby where we were dropped off.
As we were eating, Schmidt found a cigar shop online and wanted to check it out. After lunch, we went back to the hotel.
I stayed behind to get some rest while Schmidt went to the cigar shop for an hour or so. I just laid in bed waiting for Monday Night Raw.
Monday Night Raw was held at the American Airlines Center, the home of the NHL's Dallas Stars. It was the same venue where WWE's 2016 Hall of Fame induction ceremony had been.
I had high expectations going into the show, because Monday Night Raw after WrestleMania is always strong and brings in the craziest crowd.
This night was no different. Someone brought in a beach ball and it got tossed around the sections when fans got bored with one of the matches.
“We want beach ball!” a part of the crowd chanted.
“Beach ball sucks!” another part reputed.
It finally stopped when security got a hold of the ball and popped it.
“Asshole!” fans chanted. “Asshole!”
I just sat in my seat and laughed. I didn't want to take part in that. The guy was just doing his job.
Another beach ball was thrown into the crowd, but it eventually got taken away, too.
I don't think it's fair to the wrestlers in the ring to do things like that. It's fine to cheer, boo, and chant whatever. But the fans paid for tickets and it's not a formal situation like the Hall of Fame induction ceremony where nobody is in character.
But to play beach ball during the show? Come on now.
As expected, it was a great show. A new chapter was started in a never-ending book. Schmidt and I were loud during the entire show. There was one match in particular that we both were extremely invested in, though.
It was announced after the opening segment of the show that in the main event AJ Styles, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn and Chris Jericho were going to be in a fatal 4-way match. The winner would become the No. 1 contender for the WWE world heavyweight championship.
During the show, Owens ambushed Zayn backstage and injured him. This was all part of the story.
Because there was a vacant spot in the match, it was announced that another person would be in it. Who? Nobody knew for sure. When it came time for the match, though, it was revealed.
Cesero, who had been out for months with a shoulder injury, had returned. This was a great match.
I predicted that Owens was going to win, while Schmidt thought it might be Jericho. We were both happily wrong.
AJ Styles, who hadn't been with the company for that long, was the victor. Schmidt and I were shocked, and went absolutely nuts.
“You deserve it!” the crowd chanted. “You deserve it!”
I happily joined in on this one.
I get that WWE is scripted and the winners of the matches are predetermined, but understand this: to be booked to be a champion or be featured in the main event isn’t easy.
There are situations where wrestlers work for years, and sometimes they are only used on non-televised shows.
For Styles, who was visibly emotional after that victory, I completely understand and respect why. He stayed to celebrate with the fans after the show went off the air for around 10 minutes. What a moment that was.
“You deserve it!” the crowd chanted. “You deserve it!”
Again, I happily joined in because surely he did.
Schmidt and I had a lot of fun that night, but I will never forget something he told me as we exited the American Airlines Center.
He turned to me and said, “I'm not an emotional guy, I'm just not. But I want you to know that I think the world of you. You don't just have me, you have Katie, and the kids. You have a family.”
Katie, of course, is Schmidt's wife.
Those words meant the absolute world to me . . . they really hit me hard. Like I said, It's something that I'll never forget and will forever cherish, along with all the other bonding moments.
We packed up and checked out of the hotel on Tuesday at 12:30 p.m., and headed for the airport. Our flight had a two-hour layover in Los Angeles, which Schmidt and I used to get some dinner.
Someone please remind me to, if available, always take direct flights. That's because, by the time we got back to Seattle to drive back to Vancouver, it was 10:30 p.m.
Not only that, we couldn't get a shuttle to the hotel where Schmidt parked his car until close to midnight.
When we were waiting for a shuttle, Schmidt told me that we might need to spend another night at a hotel and drive back in the morning. We were both tired, and it's a two- to three-hour drive to Vancouver.
We didn't end up staying another night, but Schmidt had music blasted to the max and the car windows down as we drove home. By the time I got home and showered, it was 4 a.m., Pacific time.
I just sat in my room reflecting on everything and didn't end up sleeping until the next night.
I honestly can’t remember the last time I was consistently happy for six days consecutively. There wasn't anything about which I was stressed out, angry, sad. Just happy. There's no amount of money that could ever come close to replicating how it made me feel.
I knew from that moment on that while this may have been my first WrestleMania trip, it won't be my last.