Finally, Wrestlemania week is upon us once again! I’m about to board my plane to fly out from the UK to Dallas, Texas and I couldn’t be more excited. Not because I think this years Wrestlemania is going to be the greatest of all time or anything but just because I had so much fun last year. That’s right, this is my second ‘Mania that I’ve attended. I was there last year in San Jose and had an incredible time.
That’s despite the fact that the booking for the previous two months had sucked something awful. That’s probably why I’m looking forward to it so much again this year. Anyway, I thought I’d share some of my thoughts and experiences from my trip with you all. Enjoy.
So last year I flew out honestly expecting the worst of the worst. I was pissed off at WWE, I was annoyed about how much money I’d spent going to something that looked like it was going to suck something awful.
After all the build was terrible. All roads for the main event led to Roman Reigns winning the World Title from Brock Lesnar, despite the ‘WWE Universes’ complete and utter rejection of him since the Royal Rumble. They’d tried to get him over by having him beat actual fan favourite Daniel Bryan at WWE Fastlane, as if that was ever going to work. Finally the ‘go home’ Raw before had Reigns and Lesnar performing a tug of war for the title. The whole thing was a farce, luckily it all went right on the night, more on that later though.
In total four of us went out to watch the shows. Dan (who writes for the website), Serena and Anthony. Anthony and I had planned to make the most of our trip to America and spent a few days in San Francisco before moving over to San Jose for all that wrestling nonsense.
We had a great time, despite the fact I was suffering horribly from jet lag. We walked for hours everyday, doing all the classic touristy things and we both getting horrendously sunburnt in the process. Just like the English do best.
San Francisco is an amazing place to visit but it does have a huge homeless problem, which is quite a shame really. I had a fun/mildly worrying conversation with one man by the sea lions at Pier 39. Who couldn’t quite believe that I was from England and didn’t know who his friend was, despite only being in America less than 48 hours at that point.
Wrestlemainia Access/San Jose
It was surreal walking around San Jose and seeing so many wrestlers just hanging out. We saw Bret Hart heading back from the Hall of Fame quite casually. John Laurinaitis having a drink with the Bella Twins’ mother while we were having dinner. However, one of my fondest memories from being in San Jose was sitting with my friends the night before Wrestlemania discussing our final predictions for the show. We’re in a bar, when who walks in and grabs the table next to us? Curtis Axel and Heath Slater, we all sat their incredibly awkwardly. Not really wanting to continue our conversation. In the end Anthony talked to them outside and grabbed a picture. When he asked for a picture they pretended he’d asked for a fight instead and made him almost poop his pants. The resulting photo is them pretending to punch and elbow him, hilarious. As we were leaving we saw Baron Corbin strolling the streets alone, typical!
As for Wrestlemania Access, I’m not really a fan of getting autographs. I’ve never really been interested or seen the need. So, while Dan queued up to meet everyone and their cats, the rest of us just hung out and looked around. We watched some NXT exhibitions, including one between Big Cass & Enzo Amore against Dash and Dawson. Which was hilarious. It had excellent chemistry and great crowd interaction.
The one thing I did queue up for was to get a picture inside the elmination chamber with Zack Ryder and The Boogeyman. A weird combination I know. I was actually just about to go inside and grab a photo when some fool decided to climb the cage and sit on top of it. What a muppet that guy was and no, just because there wasn’t a sign telling you not to climb, doesn’t mean you had any right to climb it. At the last second Ryder and The Boogeyman were switched with Connor and Viktor, The Ascension. We were all pretty bummed out by that but while we were getting our photo Connor declared that he liked my Superman T-Shirt. Thus making him a favourite of mine for life. He’s my boy!
One thing I knew I was looking forward to though, even if Wrestlemania had my doubts, was the NXT Live Event at San Jose State University. Attended by roughly 5,000 fans there was a huge buzz in the air before any matches even kicked off.
This was the night Hideo Itami finally hit the GTS again, to a huge ovation. The women were over something fierce, the reaction to both women’s matches was insane with ‘this is wrestling’ and ‘this is awesome’ chants especially for Sasha Banks verses Charlotte. Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens, who were both injured at the time, cut a great promo. As did Corey Graves to start the show, despite microphone issues, and Triple H after the intermission. Triple H, was and still is, a huge face for NXT despite being a constant heel on the main roster. The whole show was fantastic, it was the best I’ve ever been to up until NXT Takeover: London.
Vince McMahon loved the show so much and the reaction it was getting that he paid for the show to over run by an hour! Much to the delight of everyone in attendance. It was truly an awesome night, one I doubt anyone will forget. This would have been the highlight of my weekend but ended up coming a close second after the main event of Wrestlemania. Again, we’ll get to that soon enough.
Hall of Fame
I’ve never watched the Hall of Fame, it’s never really interested me. So I was surprised by how much fun I had at the ceremony. The speeches were heartfelt, funny and quite interesting. Larry Zbyszko started to ramble a little bit, but I appreciated that he just wanted to talk from the heart rather than from a script. Some of the crowd need to know when to be quiet though, Hall of Fame speeches are not times for you too drunken heckle people. Also, don’t wear shorts and a tank top you freaking bums, have some respect.
After watching NXT, I was pumped for Wrestlemania. Sure, the booking had been awful. Yes, I had my doubts. Yet that all left me as I entered Levi’s Stadium. WWE claimed that there were 76,976 fans in attendance, that’s a bloated figure sure, but the atmosphere despite the heat was incredible.
But Christ, was it hot. For most of the show we were sitting directly in the sun. Keep in mind I already had awful sun burn so I was not a happy chap by any means. The amount of money we spent on bottled water (and booze) was insane, but totally worth it! I had so much fun, we had a really good spot in the crowd. Great view of the ring and the stage plus, we had a load of funny people sitting near us and we just had a laugh with them.
Now I can’t talk about Wrestlemania 31 with out talking about the Randy Orton RKO on Seth Rollins. What a masterpiece, the timing of that manoeuvre was just spot on. It made me, someone who readily admits to not being a Orton fan, jump out of my seat and cheer! Truly awesome work by both guys.
Now we get to the main event. Brock Lesnar verses Roman Reigns. This match could have doomed the entire show if it had gone badly. That’s how wrestling works, no matter how good the midcard is, if the main event stinks. The show stinks. It’s weird thinking that way, but it happens all the time.
Lesnar, who was heel at the time, got a huge reaction. He was clearly the fan favourite in San Jose. Reigns on the other hand, got booed heavily. Not just during the entrance either, but for every move he did as well. We all braced ourselves for the image of Reigns winning the title, not a single fan happy about it.
What followed was perhaps one of the greatest Wrestlemania main events in it’s history. Lesnar had developed a reputation for dominating everyone in his path. It happened to John Cena, it had happened at the Royal Rumble, but we didn’t expect to see it again that night. If anything it was worse, in a truly prison beating style of match. Lesnar kicked the holy hell of of Roman Reigns, much to the delight of the crowd. As much as we were all enjoying the destruction however, we all knew in the back of our minds that Reigns was coming out on top. So when he began his fight back with Superman Punch after Superman Punch, Spear after Spear. We all assumed the worst, but Lesnar kicked out! Amazing!
Then, the shock twist of the night. The perfect twist and crescendo as Seth Rollins cashed in his Money In The Bank contract, made the match a triple threat and won the title. The crowd went mental. Anthony and I reacted as if England had just won the world cup. I never thought, despite all of my years of being a wrestling fan, that I could get so excited by it. It was a special moment and I’m glad I got to witness it in person.
Raw after ‘Mania
The Raw after Wrestlemania started off brilliantly. The crowd were super hot after the previous nights finish and WWE kicked it off perfectly with Brock Lesnar coming out demanding his rematch. After his confrontation with Seth Rollins though and F5ing Michael Cole and a cameraman, the show went down hill quickly. The main event was yet another bland six man tag team match and it killed everyone’s buzz.
As a result of the rather dull show, the crowd (normally dubbed the best crowd of the year) went into business for themselves. ‘We are awesome’ chants are the worst thing any crowd can chant. It’s embarrassing. There were also some rather classless chants during the divas match, that started off rather harmlessly but quickly descended into ‘You suck [insert boyfriends name]!’. Poor.
On the final night we ended up getting told off by hotel security. We’d been play fighting in our room and had a number of complaints. We’d been jumping between beds, doing super kicks a plenty and I even (poorly) F5’d Anthony. Somehow Serena slept through all of it. Hilarious.
Honestly, going to Wrestlemania was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. It was a hell of a lot of fun to be out in America with my friends. Great to be in such a large crowd, all supporting the same product. The wrestling, in the end, was fantastic. It gave me a lot of great memories and hopefully, this year I’ll create even more.