With the Kids in the car, we set out for the hour long drive to the Honda Center in Anaheim. Both the wife and kids were not too sure what to make of Dad's very random, very last-minute desire to go and check out a PBR event (Anaheim Invitational). That's Professional Bull Riders for all of you city slickers.
As we pull up to the event center, the front entrance was packed with Stetson hats and Wrangler jeans. My wife looked at me with this look, like "what the hell did you bring us to." I told her to relax and be open to new experiences.
Sitting in the front row, we were right within dirt clod and bull snot shot. The lights dimmed as the announcer, a pretty popular front man that goes by Flint, boomed across the mic, as fireballs shot up, music blasted and smoke filled the entire arena. To my surprise, they weren't blasting George Straight, but songs from the top 10. The show started with the fanfare and pageantry of a rock concert. The music was loud, the crowd was pumped and the energy in the stadium was electric.
The night's champion, Guilherme Marci.
The first gate opened up and the bull shot out of the pin like a canon. Spinning, bucking and flying about like a tornado, the first rider stayed on the full 8 seconds. Rider after rider streamed from the gates, building a pace that was like no other sport. My son, who usually has ADD and can’t sit straight for more than 10 minutes, was riveted to his seat, eyes transfixed on the gates. He waited in utter anticipation for each new rider.
A top rider getting tossed.
Being an MMA fan, I found the comparisons a bit eerie. The riders, 40 in all, hailed from the US, Canada and Brazil. Not to dissimilar from a UFC fight card. The PBR is set up much like the UFC or a touring rock band, moving city to city every other week, selling out venues along the way. To that end, the PBR puts on more than 25 events a year.
A finalist getting thrown into the fence and taken out by medical staff.
I have to admit, that I came into Sunday's event being a bit of a skeptic. I left a fan. I look forward to my next PBR event. The hat trick would be PBR, Vegas and my guy friends. I can’t wait.
Check this You Tube compilation from PBR of 2012's best, most dangerous rides.
Photo credit - AP