I’m finally home. I’m exhausted, my body is tired, my voice is gone and I’m just starting to come down from my “wrestling high”.
It was all worth it. There is nothing better than WrestleMania. If you’ve never attended the event, then you’re doing it wrong. Save your money, sell your goods for cash, do what you have to do, but make it your mission to get yourself a ticket to New Orleans in April of 2018.
This wasn’t my first rodeo heading to WrestleMania, so I had an idea of what to expect when I touched down in Orlando. The experience itself has evolved over the years and every year it seems that there is more and more to do, with what feels as less and less time. There are Q&As, private events, WrestleCon, WWE Axxess, NXT, Live Podcasts …. and that’s just Saturday.
What I came to realize on this particular trip is that WrestleMania is not an event that belongs solely to the WWE anymore. At WrestleCon, I saw every Superstar imaginable; Vader, The Hardys, Flair, Sting, Torrie Wilson, The Kliq, The Hurricane, Tommy Dreamer, Bubba Ray, Slick, Curtis Hughes, Demolition, TNA Stars, ROH stars, Lucha, you get the point. It was all starting to make sense now. At Bruce Prichard’s podcast (Something To Wrestle), Jeff Jarrett took to the mic to explain that this is a celebration for the entire world of Professional Wrestling. It’s an experience that allows the business to celebrate itself. He couldn’t have been more right. He was thankful for it.
To put it into perspective, I started my day on Saturday taking a photo with Eric Bischoff at 11AM and ending it by singing “With My Baby Tonight” with Jeff Jarrett and Bruce Prichard at 2AM in a random dive bar across the street from NXT. Bruce even took a photo wearing the custom “Double J” hat that I made for the event.
On Sunday, the weather was gorgeous, a hot 85 degrees during the day which dropped to a perfect 65 degrees as the sun went down. I took the WrestleCon Shuttle to the event, holding a fully stocked cooler for the impending tailgate. We met people from all around the globe, even two dudes from the U.K., who offered to buy a couple beers off us. We declined their money and shared a few Steve-weisers with our new friends. After all, it’s WRESTLEMANIA and you simply can’t put a price on bonding over a love of professional wrestling. As we headed in, we saw it. The most beautiful WrestleMania set I’ve ever seen. I thought last year being at AT&T Stadium, which is essentially a spaceship, would have never been surpassed. I was wrong. The lights, the design, the theme and the pure spectacle that transformed Camping World Stadium into a full blown amusement park is one that will forever be ingrained in my memory. I’m sure it looked great on an HDTV for $9.99, but I assure you, seeing this structure live was worth the price of admission. It certainly lived up to the moniker of “The Ultimate Thrill-Ride.”
Lastly, there were the matches themselves. I’ve read a few reviews, primarily of those who were not in attendance and are mostly critical of the event, eager to point out its flaws; the abrupt ending to matches, the order of the card and the conclusion of feuds. To them I say, buy a ticket. Go to the event. Stop worrying about how many “stars’ a match will be given. Allow yourself to be entertained. Allow yourself to feel the ambiance smacking you in the face as you hear the roar of the crowd. Allow yourself to enjoy the purity of slapping a stranger high-five. And even allow yourself to share in a moment of somber silence as you watch one of your childhood heroes take his last ride. #ThankYouTaker.
April 8th, 2018. New Orleans. I hope to see you there.