Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Wrestlemania Experience

By Chad Smart

Following up on Kevin’s blog about Wrestlemania, I wanted to write something about the experience of being there live. If you’re a wrestling fan, even if you’re not a huge WWE fan, I highly recommend you try and make it to at least one Wrestlemania. Wrestlemania 27 will be Kevin and mine’s 5th Mania and we’re already planning the trip to Miami next year for Wrestlemania 28.


Flair says goodbye
The first Mania we attended was 22. It was in Chicago, which was a (somewhat) short drive from the southern part of Illinois where Kevin and I lived so it just made sense to go. We skipped 23 due to me moving to California two months prior to the big show. When rumors started swirling Wrestlemania 24 would be Ric Flair’s swan song, we knew we had to be there as Flair was one of the biggest reasons we had become life long wrestling fans. We didn’t plan on attending 25, but after some debate we decided since it was a milestone event we should be there. Unfortunately I think we discussed the historical significance more than anyone in WWE did, as the show didn’t really seem that memorable. Other than Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat making a return to the ring, the only other matches that stood out were the Undertaker/Shawn Michaels encounter and the title match between Triple H and Randy Orton. The latter match is memorable for all the wrong reasons. Since Wrestlemania 26 was in Phoenix, a 5-hour drive from Los Angeles, and Kevin had never been to LA it seemed only logical that we’d keep the streak alive.

Honestly, I felt Wrestlemania 26 was very subpar. I was largely bored during the second half of the show, as I didn’t really care about any of the matches. As we were walking out of the arena, it was discussed we’d take a year off and reevaluate going again in 2012. Around October or November of last year our friend Travis’ wife emailed us to see if Travis could join us this year since they were expecting their first child in May and this may be the last opportunity Travis had to travel alone for awhile.  Kevin and I both responded we weren’t going but if something changed we’d let Renea know. After spending time with both Kevin and Travis over the holidays talking wrestling, I had the urge to make the trek to Atlanta. Not so much for Wrestlemania, but for everything that surrounds the weekend. A few emails were sent back and forth, and with very little arm-twisting we had three tickets and three flights to Atlanta booked.

One of the biggest attractions of the weekend is the Hall of Fame ceremony. I’d say this is probably a bigger draw for me personally than Wrestlemania. Listening to the stories told and seeing guys who sacrificed their bodies and sometimes-personal lives for the enjoyment of the crowd while rarely getting respect other athletes generally receive is often an emotional experience. This year, I’m really looking forward to hearing Abdullah the Butcher speak about his career. And I’m hoping he brandishes a fork and stabs John Cena.

Tiffany gets audited by Money, Inc.
Last year was the first year we took part in the Fan Axxess event. Axxess is set up for fans to get autographs from WWE Superstars, Legends and Hall of Famers. There’s also memorabilia on display and various activities and photo opportunities.  Have to give credit to WWE for creating Axxess and giving the fans a chance to get up close and personal with the Superstars. I don’t know if any other sports league has something similar during their All-Star weekends.

There are also several other wrestling shows that take place during the weekend. We’ve attended a few ROH shows before, but this year due to wanting to see some of Atlanta, we’re not going to any of the other shows. Though the ROH shows do have pretty stellar line ups. If you’re at home Friday night or Saturday afternoon the ROH shows are available on Internet pay per view. I think both shows can be bought to $20 total.  Go to www.rohwrestling.com for more information.

Beside Wrestlemania weekend being a time for Kevin and I to see each other and hang out, we also get to see friends we’ve met at previous Wrestlemanias and try to meet new friends from all over the globe. Sadly this year most of the friends we’ve met won’t be there. I don’t think Gary or Tim are coming from England. And the Australian contingent will be without their lead Aussie Diva, Jackie. Somehow we’ll still have to find a way to have a good time. Hopefully they’ll be in Miami next year.

The last aspect of the weekend that I look forward to every year and is the geekiest thing we do is our Mania costumes. I’ve had a strange fascination with dressing up at wrestling events. From the Hurricane at No Mercy 2001 to full Sharkboy outfit at an early NWA:TNA show (big props to Randy for not pretending he didn’t know me that night) dressing up at a wrestling show to me is like geeks dressing up at Comic-Con. For Mania 22 we dressed at members of Spirit Squad. I was surprised we ran into about 6-7 other people in Spirit Squad gear. The best part of was walking around Target before the show while three teenage girls followed us before finally asking if we were the real Squad.  That’s right; Dolph Ziggler and I could be twins. Twins in the Arnold Schwarzenegger/Danny Devito sense of the word.

Hogan-Piper 2010 style
Wrestlemania 24’s costume was pretty last minute, as we couldn’t figure out what would be cool. We ended up deciding to go as Hornswaggle. Then we never spoke about it after the show. For 25 there was only one option. We had to pay tribute to where it all began and that meant Hulk Hogan and “Rowdy” Roddy Piper.  As I said, we put more thought into the 25th anniversary then WWE did. Last year we decided to go as a classic tag team. And while the Jumping Bomb Angels did have awesome denim jackets, we felt going as an Asian team could be seen as racist. Plus, they’re females and I’d already worn a kilt so we kept looking. We finally settled on former tag champs, Money Inc. The costumes were such a hit with other fans, even current ROH Tag Champion Chris Hero gave us props when we ran into him after the show, that we knew we’d set the bar pretty high.

When we decided to go to Wrestlemania this year with the addition of Travis, we started kicking around ideas of a three-person group.  There was much debate with names from the last 30 years of wrestling kicked around. But ultimately we decided on what I think was the most unique and interesting suggestion. What did we decide? If you want to know, you’ll have to follow My 1-2-3 Cents on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter (@my123cents) and find out on Sunday.

So while Wrestlemania 27 doesn’t have me all that excited, I am excited for the weekend and the memories I’ll leave with from Atlanta. If you’re going to be there, let us know. We’re always up for meeting fans and making new friends.

1 comment:

  1. I was fortunate enough to experience Wrestlemania 23 in Detroit. It wasn't the greatest wrestling event (Take that, Kellie Baldyga!) I've ever been to. But it was certainly one of the most memorable. The reason was the atmosphere. There is nothing quite like being surrounded by eighty thousand of the most excited wrestling fans in the world. It was loud too. So much that I rode home half deaf after it was over.

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