Tuesday, April 9, 2013

My WrestleMania Experience

Better late than never, right?

I originally intended on recounting my WrestleMania experience immediately after the show on Sunday, but I got home way too late to do that.  And then I ended up working late on Monday (and it was a jam packed day, which meant I couldn’t even write it during my lunch break).  But I did to do it before the excitement of WrestleMania dissipated, so here you go – a Tuesday night posting.

So we arrived at the arena at about 1:00 in the afternoon.  It was warm, but extremely windy.  The entire time leading up to the event we figured we’d be warm during the day but cold at night.  Once we got there, we realized we may very well be chilly during the day, while outside, and then warmer when we got into the arena (which would protect us from the wind).  While a sweatshirt or jacket was necessary, the sun was strong enough to keep us warm.

We had some chips, dip, sandwiches, and other snacks in the trunk of the car.  And we had a table set up for beer pong (which was EXTREMELY difficult to play given the power of the wind).  And there was plenty to drink – perhaps too much, as one person in our group ended up getting pretty drunk and was quite the annoyance to the people around us once we got to our seats in the arena.  I could hear some of them talking about how they were literally going to go to security in order to get him ejected.  He was that bad.  So, if you’re reading this and you were sitting in front of us or behind us, I genuinely apologize.

Speaking of the people around us, wrestling fans are an interest breed, aren’t we?  I’m not going to say that I’m the only normal person and everybody who knows less is a stupid mark, and everybody who knows more is overly “smart.”  And I completely understand how much of the enjoyment of wrestling comes from getting into the moment and treating it like a real competition.  But some of these people….I just don’t know.  There was this guy behind me, probably in his mid thirties, and the way he’s talking….it’s almost as if he doesn’t even realize that this is a scripted storyline.  Like he would say, with no sense of “being in the moment,” “Punk made things way too personal” and “no more talking, now it’s time to fight!”  Or during the Triple H/Brock match, noting that Triple H doesn’t have his submission move locked tight enough.  I’m all for enthusiasm and even taking things seriously, but this was an entirely new level.  But hey, he enjoyed himself, so who am I to judge?

Now to the show.  Jim’s girlfriend was along with us and one of the first things she noticed was that we couldn’t hear the impact of the wrestlers getting slammed onto the ring.  And even though our seats were pretty high up, a big reason for that was that these stadiums don’t exactly lend themselves to great acoustics.  I honestly don’t know how that translated on television, but I’m guessing the crowd sounded on the quiet side.  This is another reason why WWE should at least consider the possibility of doing WrestleMania in a smaller venue.  Compare the over 80,000 people who were at WrestleMania to the less than 17,000 people who were at Raw the next night.  There’s no comparison.

I do have to admit, though, that the crowd did seem a bit quiet at times.  Some crowd reaction moments that stood out, though:  the place was rabid for a Ziggler cash in during the World Heavyweight Championship match.  They spent practically the entire match chanting “We Want Ziggler,” and when the screen went black at the conclusion of the match (indicating that the camera was no longer on the in-ring action) the place really deflated.  Also, everybody was really surprised when Mark Henry beat Ryback.  Nobody expected it and it seemed to come out of nowhere.  As a result, it didn’t really get much of a reaction at all.

The match of the night was undoubtedly CM Punk vs. the Undertaker.  It was the most exciting and the crowd was definitely the most alive during it.  People were at the edge of their seats throughout, and they didn’t seem to resort to teased finishers and false finishes like the main event.  Magnificent job by both competitors.  The crowd was surprisingly tame during Brock Lesnar/Triple H.  The high spots got the expected reaction, but it was nowhere near  as consistent as Punk/Taker.

Most surprising, however, was the apparent disinterest in Rock/Cena.  Perhaps it was just my section, but people seemed to be openly mocking the match (particularly the rest holds.  It had a fair amount working against it, though.  For one, it came after the match of the night (Punk/Taker) and a brutal garbage match (Triple H/Brock).  If it wasn’t going to be a masterpiece, people were going to be disappointed.  Perhaps even more significant, though, is that nobody expected the match at that time.  Most of us figured we’d see the eight man match to calm everybody down.  Sure, it would only last a minute or two, but most people were sitting around waiting for Brodus’ music when suddenly Cena’s music played.  It really seemed like people didn’t know what to think at first.  And I really think that hurt the match (not to mention the fact that, unlike every other main event match of the past decade, there were no overly elaborate entrances).

Some random observations:  First off, A LOT of people already have a replica of the new WWE Championship.  I’d say I saw more of that championship than any other.  And it’s the most expensive ($450 to the usual $300)!  Also, about half of the people I saw wearing John Cena shirts were adults.  And speaking of John Cena, I think there’s something to the theory that people chant “Cena Sucks!” because it’s expected and part of the show.  Case in point:  The same person sitting near me started the “Let’s Go Cena!” chant and then immediately yelled “Cena Sucks!” in response to his own cheer.  Don’t get me wrong, there were a lot of people who actively voiced their disdain for him, but I think there’s also a large portion of people who jeer him for fun.

Perhaps more than everything else, I loved the various allusions to last year’s show.  First you had a recreation of the Daniel Bryan/AJ Lee kiss, with AJ kissing Dolph this time, and Bryan responding with a swift kick to his face that almost led to the end of the match.  It really was played perfectly.  I also really loved the two in the Rock/Cena match, where they twice made reference to the manner in which their match ended last year.  The first had Rock imitating Cena, only for Cena to cut him off with his finisher (a recreation of last year’s ending, with the roles reversed).  The other had Cena once again mocking Rock, but this time expecting the Rock’s defensive attack.  Well done.

The only thing I hated about the event was leaving.  We were in our car for literally an hour before we even left the lot.  THE LOT!  Dreadful, dreadful way to end the night.  But overall, a great experience.

Be sure to check out my photos from the event (includes photos from the actual event as well as tailgating and Axxess): 

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