Quick Count
After his no-holds-barred match with Kevin Owens, a beer- and sweat-soaked Steve Austin toasts his fans and peers. (PHOTO BY GEORGE NAPOLITANO)

IT’S A SHAME I didn’t get to see more of Texas during my trip to WrestleMania. Outside of AT&T Stadium and the American Airlines Center, the only notable Dallas landmarks I took in were the bronze bull statues at the latter venue. And, by then, I had already gotten my fill of bull by listening to Kevin Owens during his “KO Show.”

Y’all better git to reading this Texas-inspired edition of “Quick Count.” Despite everything being bigger there, Kevin McElvaney refused to expand this column over a couple more pages.


When the clock strikes 12 during a WWE show over WrestleMania weekend, it typically means midnight has arrived. But, this year, WWE offered something for the lunch crowd, too.

With Smackdown occurring on Friday night, and WrestleMania taking place over two nights, that left NXT with the Saturday afternoon slot to put on what could be its biggest show of the year.

While the American Airlines Center was not exactly packed for Stand & Deliver, the crowd of a few thousand fans was easily the biggest for NXT since its “2.0” rebranding last September.

Those who made it to the matinee show were treated to a sensational six-man ladder match, an emotional farewell for Tommaso Ciampa, and a quality main event pitting NXT champ—and former world titleholder—Dolph Ziggler against rookie sensation Bron Breakker.

As odd as it was leaving a WWE show while the sun was still out, it was nice having the second half of my day free … to go watch more wrestling.


For nearly two decades, fans wondered what it would take to get Steve Austin to come out of retirement. A once-in-a-lifetime dream match? An attack on his family?

In the end, it just took Kevin Owens talking smack about “Stone Cold’s” home state.

Steve Austin is nothing if not old-school. And, fittingly, it was a very old-school wrestling angle that got him back into the ring. Behind the storyline, there was a special significance in Austin wrapping up his career in the same city he began it, training under “Gentleman” Chris Adams in the Dallas Sportatorium.

Mark “The Undertaker” Calaway expresses his gratitude during the WWE Hall of Fame acknowledgements on WrestleMania Saturday. (PHOTO BY GEORGE NAPOLITANO)

As memorable as Austin’s previous WrestleMania 19 swan song with The Rock was, the setting—Seattle, Washington—was less than ideal. In the biggest venue in Texas, the 57-year-old “Rattlesnake” got the send-off he deserved, and made his fellow Texans proud.

We can drink to that.


After avoiding WWE Hall of Fame induction ceremonies for most of his career, it would be natural for The Undertaker to appear nervous when taking the stage for his own induction. But we all know that the “Dead Man” is all about the unnatural.

Mark Calaway, the man behind the Undertaker, looked as cool as a macabre cucumber all throughout WrestleMania weekend. At his induction ceremony, ’Taker held court for 50 minutes with the cadence and confidence of a church preacher, as he looked back on his legendary career. The next night, he returned to the stage where he was the most dominant during his career, WrestleMania, and brought the fans to their feet with his epic entrance.

He did the same the following night. And, again, he looked as comfortable as if he were sitting on his couch—or upright in a coffin.

It shouldn’t surprise us that, after performing on some of wrestling’s biggest stages for 30 years, The Undertaker could keep his composure in high-pressure situations. While he may no longer be undefeated at WrestleMania, he remains unshaken by it.


There was yet another wrestling legend who marked a career milestone over WrestleMania weekend. Thirty years after lacing up his wrestling boots for his first professional match, Paul “Triple H” Levesque left his boots in the ring, as he formally retired from in-ring action.

Levesque revealed to ESPN days before WrestleMania that a cardiac episode last September had nearly cost him his life, and left him with a defibrillator installed in his chest.

While “The Game” can take pride in his hall of fame-worthy career, which included 14 world title reigns, it’s a shame that his retirement came not of his own choosing, but rather was necessitated by health issues.

There’s some irony in the fact that it was Levesque’s ticker that ultimately brought his career to a conclusion. While he may have been dubbed the “Cerebral Assassin,” those who have followed him—from the rise of D-Generation X, to multiple WrestleMania main events, to making NXT one of the hottest wrestling brands on the planet—know that, when it comes to wrestling, Triple-H has always been all heart.


Days after wrestling’s biggest stars competed on the biggest stage possible, some potential WrestleMania headliners of tomorrow performed in front of a much smaller crowd at the Create A Pro Wrestling show on Long Island, New York.

While I wasn’t familiar with most of the up-and-coming young talents on the show, there was one who really stood out to me—my cousin, Nick Robles.

It was the pro wrestling debut for Nick, 19, who has loved wrestling since he was a little boy. I vividly recall him showing off his WWE action figure collection to me when I would come over to watch pay-per-views with his dad.

As he did then, Nick wowed me with his charisma the moment he walked through the curtain for his six-man tag team match. I beamed with pride when he made the first “hot tag” of his wrestling career.

I trust it was the beginning of a journey that will one day lead to the WrestleMania stage. And, when he gets there, I’ll be able to say, “I’m related to that guy.”