Hello everyone and apologies this has taken some time to get done but I thought I would give you a little insight to my time over in New Orleans for WrestleMania 30.
It was a massive range of emotions for wrestling fans during that week, with Daniel Bryan getting his shot as the main guy, Undertaker’s streak ending and the tragic news of the Ultimate Warrior passing.
I flew out from Manchester on the Thursday before WrestleMania and the older I’ve got and the more programs of Air Crash Investigation I’ve viewed, the more uncomfortable I’ve become with flying. I’m ignoring the obvious fact that I’m punishing myself by watching programs on how a plane flying over Brazil was cut in half, mid-flight by another plane and placing the entire blame on my fiancée.
My fiancée Laura had never been on holiday until we got together ten years ago and on her first holiday she was understandably nervous about flying 35,000 feet in the air inside a pressurized tube with wings. In the process of calming Laura down I suddenly sat there on the runway and thought “She’s right to be nervous! Do you realise what you are about to be doing?” I realised that I was probably more nervous than she was, and ever since then I have always had it play in the back of my mind. So yes, obviously, it’s all Laura’s fault. More faults coming later…
We had two flights there as we had to get on a connection in Philadelphia. Getting on the second flight I was dreading it as the approach to Philadelphia had been rough and my fears were realised when the Captain stood at the front of the plane before take-off and apologised in advance that this would be a very rocky flight from start to finish. My only saving grace was noticing that Rowdy Roddy Piper was actually on this flight at the front of the plane. That settled my nerves as I thought that nothing bad could happen to someone who is going to be involved at this big weekend of events (oh, how that seems strange to think about in hindsight with what happened on Tuesday morning with Warrior.)
We landed and everything in the airport was WrestleMania 30 orientated. Columns had all the wrestlers wrapped round them and people had started to gather round Roddy Piper to get pictures and autographs.
We were walking through to the baggage claim and a very tall gentleman was stood in the corridor next to a suitcase talking on a mobile phone. The phone blocked my view of his face but his arms were covered in tattoos. At the first glance I realised it had to be one of the wrestlers but as soon as I saw his arm up close I realised that it was The Undertaker himself! I have been honoured enough to see many wrestlers in person on previous trips but I had never seen The Undertaker, much less walked straight past him. He was with Michelle McCool and when we approached she apologised to Laura and moved the case which she felt was blocking our way. In truth, it wasn’t but she was very friendly and polite.
Undertaker waited not far away at the airport entrance obviously waiting for his pick up and during this time he was never off his phone. Understandable, as it prevented him from being disturbed by the many people coming through the airport and I joked at the time that he was probably on the phone to Vince saying “What do you mean you want to end the streak!?!” (Yet another eerie thought in hindsight.)
Meeting wrestlers has been a bit of a confidence spot with me. I once approached Finley in Detroit on the WrestleMania 23 weekend and got an awkward response which left me feeling like I really shouldn’t bother these people. Everyone’s different and people can have their bad days and I completely understand their need for privacy but sometimes a bad experience like that can prevent you from approaching anyone else. Since then I have always been cautious. Piper looked to be having a great time and he was a total gentleman with the fans that approached him. Undertaker has a legacy and character to preserve so I can understand him keeping himself low-key.
Our first point of call was to get to the hotel, drop the suitcases off and get some food before we got some sleep. We went to the local iHOP and to our surprise; Ryback came in wearing a t-shirt which must have been at least XXXL. The guy was HUGE! I know he’s a big guy and the baggy MASSIVE shirt only helped to convey his size but he really did look like he swallowed another person!
Friday was a nice opportunity to get to see the town and collect our tickets and visit places like Bourbon Street, Mercedes-Benz Superdome and see the Mississippi River. I also got chance to record a WrestleMania preview radio podcast which you can find on my twitter feed.
Then came Saturday and the WWE Hall of Fame. This year was different for most as everyone could watch the entire show this year live through the WWE Network, so I’d imagine that you have all seen it but I wanted to point out how emotional Jake ‘The Snake’ Robert’s induction was. Jake poured his heart out and couldn’t believe he had managed to turn his life round to point of receiving this honour. Jake briefly shared some pretty dark experiences that long time wrestling fans will all be aware of and it was hard not to shed a tear in this speech which signified Jake reaching his goals and changed his life for the better.
Another emotional moment which was made all the more poignant was the induction of the Ultimate Warrior. Knowing now what happened and thinking back to him walking out with his two little girls is heart wrenching. Warrior was a man full of passion, intensity and desire. His character and his intensity was something unique in the world of Professional Wrestling and the sacrifices he made for the fans will never be forgotten to those who admired and followed his work. His promo on RAW was hauntingly apt yet it was nice to think that Warrior was able to put his differences aside with the WWE before this tragedy took place.
WWE would have reacted in the same way if this tragedy had happened any other time but it was great to see that Warrior was able to be recognised by the WWE as well as the fans for the work he did before this tragedy took place rather than it have been done because of it. Warrior is and will always be a legend and it couldn’t have been said better than those final words he said himself on his final appearance:
Then came Sunday, WrestleMania day! I was able to meet up with fellow Wrestling guys Frank Manzo (@Fmanzo3), Doug McDonald (@DougOMac) and Jon Alba (@JonAlbaSFC) with their friends and family which was great to catch up. I was speaking with Jon and I said that something major had to happen at this event as well as Daniel Bryan winning the championship. I was talking about possibly CM Punk returning or John Cena turning heel. The thought of Undertaker’s streak ending never entered any of our minds.
WrestleMania 30 was fantastic. The opening segment between Hulk Hogan, Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock was worth being in attendance for alone! I admit that the matchups for WrestleMania 30 didn’t dazzle as much as some of the dream matches that I have spoken about so much in the build up to this event but the work-rate was second to none. The opening match between Bryan and Triple H was lengthy, well-paced, logical and entertaining. Wyatt and Cena had a good match and I won’t go in to the result, the pre-show tag team match was fast paced, the main event was a perfectly booked overcoming the odds matchup and then there was the streak.
Nobody expected Brock Lesnar to end the streak, nobody. Those who spoke about it were saying it to either be different or just expressing their opinion that he should. I have never heard 75,000 people go so silent. It was that quiet! If someone at the top of the superdome had farted after that 3 count then there was a good chance that Undertaker heard it!
Watching back the TV version it was obvious the streak was over, Undertaker received the F5, Lesnar pinned him and you heard the bell ring. For whatever reason, I didn’t hear the bell ring. Whether that was my shock to the shoulder not coming up or because there was a technical hiccup but it was a state of confusion. The crowd went silent, and then the image of 21-1 appeared on the screen. That is the moment when you hear nearly everyone in the dome let out a disappointing groan. However, when that graphic came up it also pixelated and went off. This then had me wondering whether WWE were trying to do some kind of Undertaker mind game. Sadly, the graphic reappeared and then the announcement was made which broke the heart of literally thousands of people.
I didn’t even watch the Divas match I was in that much shock. I spent most of it checking what the reactions were like on Twitter thinking why did they decide to end it? Was it Undertaker’s call? If they wanted it to end it, why give it to Brock Lesnar? Why didn’t they give that honour to CM Punk last year and then he probably wouldn’t have left in the first place.
As time has passed, I’m not as disgusted about it as some people are but as long as Undertaker made the call then I’m happy. Reports since have claimed that Undertaker didn’t make the call but he didn’t argue with it, so I’m a little conflicted. Either way, it was one of the biggest moments, if not the biggest moment in WrestleMania history. To be there in person to witness something that monumental is something I will never forget. I’m very lucky to have seen a lot of Undertaker’s WrestleMania matches in the past and this one wasn’t a classic match but it will be one that is talked about for a VERY long time.
Monday came and so did the cruel ribbing. My friend Ste and I decided that Undertaker’s streak ended because Laura folded her WrestleMania 30 ticket in half. So naturally if you wish to tell her it was her fault also, you can inform her on Twitter @sallysox. (May actually get me killed!)
We also attended RAW where I was able to catch up with another Twitter friend in Daniel Williams (@WWEThatsNotPG) who you may be familiar with and if you aren’t then I strongly recommend become so.
RAW was great. We didn’t get the Sting debut or the Punk return but we did get Warrior’s final public appearance along with the debut of Rusev and Paige.
I’m very conscious of how long this entry has been and I haven’t even scratched the surface of my experiences in NOLA but in all seriousness if you have never been to a WrestleMania then I strongly advise you to save up to be able to do so.
America is a lovely place to visit, with great food and the atmosphere when you’re in a town full of wrestling fans is like no other! During my time there I managed to see Undertaker, Michelle McCool, Roddy Piper, Alberto Del Rio, Seth Rollins, El Torito, Ryback, Jimmy Hart, Jerry “The King” Lawler, Sean Waltman and Scott Hall. All just out and about in town! The buzz and energy in the city is great and you’ll take memories home forever. I have been lucky enough to do it on seven occasions and I might not be able to go to many more in my lifetime but I’ll always have happy memories of the times I did. If you’re thinking about doing it, do it.
You can follow me on Twitter @BeansOnToastUK where you can keep up to date with all my projects and you can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
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