Hello everyone. Last night I returned from my Wrestlemania 29 trip. I know you read my colleague Matt’s experience from his trip up to MetLife Sunday, but I was there since Friday and had a whole weekend full of experiences to share!
I arrived in New Yor City early Friday afternoon and was immediately in awe of the big city life of New York. Things move a lot faster there than they do in the small town of Buffalo that I live in. One thing I learned from my trip is that I have a ton of respect for people who live in a big city like NYC. I’m sure if I was born there it would be different, but from my 4 days there I learned that it is an overwhelming experience. Port Authority is a maze in and of itself, but I finally got the hang of it after a while. Even NYC transportation wasn’t that bad. The only negative experience I had was going to the Hall of Fame Saturday night, where we were stuck in traffic for over an hour coming into NYC from our hotel in New Jersey. We missed Terry Funk’s induction speech, but that’s it. Overall that experience wasn’t bad. Our hotel, the La Quinta in Secaucus, was very good as well. It isn’t a 5 star hotel or anything, but it was solid for spending the night. It also had a great continental breakfast. But I’m sure you aren’t here to read about my experiences in NYC and their transit system, you are here to read about my wrestling experiences from the weekend! I’ll start with Axxess, since those were the first three wrestling related things I did all weekend. This is my second Wrestlemania experience, as I had also been to Wrestlemania 27 as well. Overall, I would say the set up at Axxess was much better at WM27 than it was at this one. First of all, this Axxess was held in an actual arena rather than a convention center. We were seated in the arena seats while waiting for wrestlers rather than an actual line. They also had a ring set up on the arena floor with some activities as well. At least that allowed us to watch the matches going on. But they also had a lot of displays set up in the outside concourse of the arena. That made it tough to stop and take pictures of things with people constantly walking by.
As far as meeting the wrestlers goes, it was a mixed bag. The Shield was about 45 minutes late to their booth Friday night. Chris Jericho was about the same length late for his VIP signing Saturday morning. apparently people who were in line to meet Paul Heyman didn’t get a chance to see him because the line was so long that they cut it off and people were very upset. One thing they also did on Saturday was not tell people where various wrestlers were because of problems they had with long lines Friday night. To me, I would rather know where someone is than watch people get out of line right in front of the wrestlers they don’t want to see. That is disrespectful to said wrestler. In the end, I personally ended up meeting The Shield, Christian, 3MB, Vickie Guerrero, Wade Barrett, Ricky Steamboat, and Larry Zbysko. For the price you pay per ticket you would probably like to meet more people, but everyone I met was nice. I chatted with Christian for a little bit about hockey which was fun. Axxess isn’t bad if you don’t mind waiting in long lines, but I much preferred everything about Axxess from WM27 compared to this one.
Next up was the Hall of Fame ceremony Saturday night. Definitely an enjoyable experience. As I said I missed Terry Funk’s introduction of Mick Foley. But I caught Foley’s speech, and it was definitely the highlight of the night. It was the speech the crowd was into the most. Foley had the crowd in the palm of his hand. He definitely could have been the headliner of his own class. Trish Stratus gave a very classy speech. I understood the crowd booing Trish when she talked about her husband at first, but I thought booing the whole time she talked about him was a bit unnecessary. Booker T gave an emotional speech talking about his tough upbringing. As most of you know by now, Maria Menounos was booed toward the end of her speech. It wasn’t bad, it just went on way too long and the crowd was getting antsy about it. As far as Bob Backlund goes, the man’s speech was entertaining. I definitely get the “He’s nuts” vibe people have about him and it is true. Vince McMahon actually came on stage at one point and told him to finish up. He did it in a funny way though. At Wrestlemania when they showed the Hall of Famers, Backlund literally had to be dragged off the stage by the floor director. Donald Trump was booed the whole time. I don’t know if the celebrities will ever be accepted. Arnold Schwarzenegger gave a great intro for Bruno Sammartino. Unlike Maria, his speech was short and funny. The crowd was very respectful of Bruno and his speech was very classy and respectful of the wrestling business. It was an enjoyable night and I really hope the WWE builds an actual Hall of Fame somewhere one of these days.
Sunday morning I attended WrestleCon where I chatted for a bit with my colleague Matt. WrestleCon is expensive, but is definitely a fun experience. It was $20 to get in. After that it was $20 for an autograph or $20 for a picture. Some wrestlers were more expensive, some cheaper. It was $90 for a Jake Roberts/DDP autograph/photo combo. But unlike Axxess, you can actually just go up and chat with wrestlers like my friend did with Colt Cabana. Jake Roberts was in line getting food standing right next to me. I ended up paying to meet Mickie James, Bobby Heenan and Iron Sheik. Bobby Heenan is in rough shape after his cancer treatment, but props to him for making it out and doing this appearance. It is just enjoyable seeing wrestlers just standing there chatting next to you or walking by you instead of being blocked away from you like at Axxess. If you have the money and like a lot of older or non-WWE wrestlers I would recommend it.
Next up was Wrestlemania. I’m not going to give you a breakdown of every match on the show. I arrived at MetLife at about 3:30 p.m. because the shuttle from our hotel was booked every time after that. I walked the parking lots and met some really interesting people. I know Matt was not a fan of the tailgaiting and drinking going on in the parking lot, but I personally had no problem with it. I didn’t see anyone that was out of control. I think it adds to the experience of the show if you make a day out of it and talk some wrestling in the parking lot. Maybe because I am from Buffalo and go to Bills games, and I have seen A LOT worse in parking lots going to those games. Compared to a Bills tailgate, the tailgate for Wrestlemania was very tame. Meeting so many diverse people added to the experience.
As for the actual show itself, I thought it was enjoyable. It was good, not great. As far as my view goes, I was only blocked off from a small portion of one corner, so I saw about 90% of the ring. I liked everything but the final two matches. I was really hoping the WWE would take a chance with something at Wrestlemania, but they once again played it safe. (something I will talk about in a column later this week) The obvious match of the night was CM Punk vs The Undertaker. That was the match the crowd was into the most. I think that actually hurt the Brock Lesnar/HHH match because it immediately followed it. I enjoyed every match before that too. Nothing topped *** stars but nothing was overly bad either. CM Punk’s entrance was great. It was good to see The Shield go over, as well as Fandango. I thought he looked good in the ring and I still believe there is potential with him. As far as the last two matches, I wanted something different from Brock/HHH, and they didn’t deliver. The match was essentially the same thing we saw at SummerSlam, and that didn’t go over well with the crowd either. Hell in A Cell or Last Man Standing would have been better. And Rock/John Cena was just full of way too many counters at the end. And the crowd wanted a Cena Heel Turn, and they didn’t get it. A lot of fans hated the ending and booed it, and were upset on the way out. The WWE is taking a big risk keeping their product predictable like this. Overall, I would probably give the show a 6. Better than WM27 that I went too, but not a great Wrestlemania.
And now to perhaps the best part of my trip, the RAW after Wrestlemania. Knowing the crowd reactions last year, I was expecting a unique experience. But this completely blew me out of the water. Wade Barrett and Miz put on a great match, much better than their Wrestlemania one. It was longer for one. It was so great seeing Dolph cash in. People are complaining about not seeing it at Wrestlemania where they spent their money to see it. Well guess what? If I pay money to go watch a sporting event, and the team I want to win doesn’t, I have to live with it. I actually think having a smaller crowd in a closed off arena made it better. I don’t know if Undertaker will be back for Extreme Rules, but it at least looks like The Shield will be going after the Tag Titles. And then we got to the last hour of the show, which was taken over by the crowd. They didn’t want to see Randy Orton vs Sheamus, two of the WWE’s golden boys, wrestle for that long. I was against the WWE giving away that match on TV, and then the crowd made it enjoyable. And then everything with Fandango was great. Hopefully the guy gets over more. As far as Ryback goes, I don’t know if the crowd will care for his heel turn, or even a match against John Cena. I’ll be interested to see what happens with John Cena next week as well as CM Punk. But RAW was definitely the highlight of my weekend.
I enjoyed my trip overall and I would always recommend trying this at least once if you never did it before. I would say it is 50/50 right now if I’m going next year. I know Matt and I talked about maybe getting a booth at WrestleCon which would be fun. Definitely plan ahead and try to know where everything you want to go is. And the earlier you buy everything the cheaper it will be.
I’ll have another column up later this week.
Until Next Time, Justin C Follow Me On Twitter @JCWonka
Tags: cm punk, Fandango, Hall Of Fame, john cena, ryback, The Rock, the undertaker, triple h, Wrestlemania 29, WWE