[Originally published on April 9, 2014]
WrestleMania 30 was this past weekend and I had the distinct honor of attending what will be remembered as one of those most emotional and significant WrestleMania events of all time. What follows is something of a loose collection of thoughts coming out of the weekend as opposed to an actual story, but I hope you enjoy it nonetheless.
We’ve all heard the news that the Ultimate Warrior has passed away. I didn’t get an opportunity to meet Warrior, but I did find his Hall of Fame speech to be both inspiring, as well as very fair in its recounting of history. A lot of folks online seemed very nervous about what he’d be discussing in his speech and while he certainly took a shot or two, they were even-handed and at times even humorous. Warrior was a true original, a renegade, and he will be missed.
This was my first event working alongside the WWE and I can’t possibly overstate just how incredible the staff and talent at WWE truly are. Our booth at WrestleMania Axxess was outstanding, the staffing was excellent and the folks on the business side of WWE were extremely hospitable and helped ease me right in to the crazy world they do business in. I really can’t say enough and now that I understand the caliber of talent that I’m working with across all ends of the business, I’m even more excited to see what we can do in the future.
Speaking of Axxess, I feel comfortable in calling it the easiest show floor I ever worked. The fans were excellent, all the kids who came screaming through our booth were extremely pumped to be at a WWE show and I had a great time chatting about the world of pro wrestling with everyone who came by. It was a really positive environment and I’m looking forward to the next one.
The real draw of the WWE 2K14 booth at Axxess was the talent we had coming through, and it was as exciting to work with them as it was nerve wracking. Everyone was pleasant and professional, and I think they all had a lot of fun coming through. Whether it was teaching Goldust how to beat his brother at 2K14, or watching Dolph Ziggler down a bunch of pizza rolls in post-match celebration, working with the talent was an absolute blast.
I do have one story that I feel is appropriate to share. Ryback stopped by on the final day of Axxess just a few hours prior to WrestleMania. As we greeted one another I could tell how exhausted he was, and understandably so. He did a great job with the game and when he was finished, we had arranged for him to meet with a fan. There was this kid who couldn’t have been older than four who adored Ryback — he was his favorite wrestler. We invited him and his parents into the booth with Ryback waiting in the back. Once he came around to greet him, Ryback completely lit up and was in full Superstar mode. He was horsing around with the kid, posing for pictures, really making him feel welcomed. Later that night I approached Ryback and I let him know how much I appreciated him taking the time and what a class act it was. He told me that it wasn’t a problem and its what he was in the business to do — put smiles on kids faces. He told me, it’s what we should all be in this business to do. It’s something I’ll never forget and will try and apply moving forward.
Paige is now both NXT Women’s Champion, as well as your WWE Divas Champion. I wish I had proof of when I called his exact post-Mania situation happening about 4 months ago, but instead you’ll all have to believe the word of @Manadrake for that. I bring this up now because Paige was easily one of the hardest working Superstars at Axxess. Every time I looked over to the NXT ring, there she was performing. With multiple matches per day at Axxess on top of appearances, Paige was putting on an exceptional show for the fans, and the few that I caught were TV quality to be sure. I’m extremely proud to call myself a fan of hers and my fingers are crossed for the very bright future of the WWE’s women’s division.
The Hall of Fame ceremony was on Saturday night and I took my seat just as DDP was beginning his introduction of Jake “The Snake” Roberts. I enjoyed the hell out of the ceremony but I do hope WWE makes some adjustments in the near future on how fans are allowed to participate. I found a lot of the one-off shouts and repeated chants to be highly disrespectful of the men and women being honored. The “one more match” chants towards Jake got under my skin as it was clear that some folks weren’t listening to what he was actually saying. There’s a time and a place for the fans to let their voice be heard, and I feel that time and that place is just about anywhere that isn’t the Hall of Fame.
WrestleMania in the Superdome (not to be confused here) was an absolute spectacle and larger-than-life in every sense of the word. I’m glad we had such an amazing crowd, especially so that it came across that way on TV. The card wound up being much better than I feel a lot of fans initially gave it credit for, and I felt that just about every match had something special to it. Really, a very solid Mania and one of — if not the best show in ages.
I can now say that I was there when “The Streak” was broken, which is something I never thought would happen in the first place. This SB Nation piece sums up most of my feelings towards a match that I feel will be better understood at a later time. While my initial reaction was that of shock and dismay, I also accept that it was a master class in playing with audience expectations. Due to the unbridled complacency of the audience it may have very well been the absolute perfect time for the streak to be broken. No one saw it coming, myself included. It was a very bizarre feeling in the Superdome from then on and I don’t think the crowd ever fully recovered, but it wasn’t for lack of trying.
I felt the main event was fantastic. Pulling off a triple threat on that grand of a stage is a near impossible feat, but Bryan, Orton, Batista and all the other players involved made it possible. There were some scary moments to be sure, but it was a great match.
The RAW after Mania was the first I’ve ever attended and a massive 3MB chant broke out in the crowd. Just saying.
The original plans didn’t include me staying for the RAW after Mania, but once my bosses realized I was leaving in the morning with plenty of work left to do, my plans were completely changed and I was on board for what is always the most exciting show of the year. Very glad I stayed. As an NXT fan, seeing all the debuts and new promos made me swell up with pride. The future of WWE is extremely bright, and I feel that the next crop of NXT send-ups are perfectly poised for huge success. Bo Dallas’ videos got a huge laugh out of me, and to see WWE fully embracing the Adam Rose character means there’s nothing but sheer insanity in store for all of us.
If you’re a fan of The Shield and you’re unsure about how they’ll be when they’re good guys, check out this post-Mania promo. I have no doubts in my mind that all three of these men will be main event stars as individuals, but for now I’m happy for any reason that keeps them together. The degree to which they interact with one another and work as a fluid team both in and out of the ring is exceptionally rare, and I’m happy to have it for as long as we can.
Wade Barrett getting what amounted to a heroes welcome in New Orleans was simply magical and well deserved. I literally jumped out of my seat once I realized he was in his ring gear and the crowd was super appreciative as well. I hope these good vibes follow him on the road as Bad News Barrett is long overdue for a solid run at the top.
That’s all for now. I’ll try and make these posts a more regular thing with the bigger shows. I definitely need an outlet for all this wrasslin’ I got kicking around my brain.