Wednesday, April 10, 2013

WrestleCon/Wrestlemania Weekend Highlights

Blassie, Martel, Wizard, and Testa
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

The weekend marked my seventh live Wrestlemania and all the activities associated with the biggest event of the year.  The weekend actually turned into a week for my posse this year, and it was much bigger than just Wrestlemania itself.  Several wrestling companies worked in collaboration to put on WrestleCon, a convention and series of wrestling shows.  Luckily, we were able to attend many of the events, so here are my personal favorites from our time spent on the East Coast.  (These are in no particular order)  By the way, Chad was dressed like the Grand Wizard and I was "Classy" Freddie Blassie on Sunday.

Outside WWE HQ in Stamford
Visiting WWE HQ: Our group arrived in New Jersey Wednesday.  I had always promised myself if I was ever within driving distance of WWE Headquarters I was going to make the trek.  Since Stamford, Connecticut is only about an hour a way, we rented a car and made the drive.  You can see the enormous building from Interstate 95.  We pulled off the highway, parked and walked to the facility and posed from some pictures outside.  It was awesome seeing the place in person, even if only for a few minutes.  It made the trip worth it.

Live from New York!:  I'm focusing just on the wrestling aspects of the trip, which included a trip into New York City and the Ring of Honor iPPV.  Friday night the company presented SuperCard of Honor VII.  The famed Hammerstein Ballroom at the Manhattan Center hosted the event.  Two decades ago, Monday Night Raw was taped in this facility.  RD Evans stole the show early on, revealing himself as the mystery partner of QT Marshall.  The two went down in defeat to ACH and Tadarius Thomas, but really all four men put on an excellent match and set the tone for a great night of wrestling.  Jay Briscoe realized his dream in becoming the ROH champion with a victory over Kevin Steen, and even though some people hate him, I enjoy the work Shelton Benjamin does as he battled Mike Bennett.  The former WWE Intercontinental champion lost to Bennett in a fast paced match up.

Saraya Knight vs. Cheerleader Melissa
Ladies Night: I've heard plenty about Shimmer, but never had a chance to see it live.  I'm glad I made the decision to get a ticket to Saturday's iPPV 53.   These ladies all proved it takes more than a pretty face to be a wrestling star.  We sat in the second row, which put us close to the action, which included my current favorite women's wrestler Awesome Kong.  She put a beating on Mia Yim, who fought hard against the monstrous Kia Stevens.  There was also a four way tag match for the titles which saw the champs, the Canadian Ninjas retaining against Allyson Danger & Taylor Made, Kellie Skater & Tomoko Nakagawa, and Lufisto & Kana.  Lufisto hit a moonsault onto the other competitors outside the ring and with our view obstructed, all we heard was a loud thud as she crashed to the floor.  Cheerleader Melissa captured the Shimmer title by beating Saraya Knight in a cage match.  That was a first for me too.

Chikara Sets a Record: WrestleCon marked my third live Chikara event.  I always have fun at these shows.  This one was no exception.  More than a thousand fans attended this event, setting a new record for the company.  It was great to be a part of the crowd, which as always is entertaining.  Highlights include the Batiri winning a four team elimination match, which included a hilarious Tebow pose by Mr. Touchdown.  By the way, the ultra jock called me a nerd during intermission and asked for a pen to sign someone's autograph.  Jushin "Thunder" Liger and Mike Quackenbush beat Jigsaw and the Shard, and Marty Jannetty returned to action in an eight man tag.  Another fun/markish point during this show is I ran into Hulk Hogan, the Iron Sheik, and Liger in the bathroom at various times.  Hogan and Sheik were on the other side of the building doing autographs for WrestleCon.  Talk about a surreal pee break...

Bruno Sells Out MSG...Again: When he was wrestling as the WWWF Champion, Bruno Sammartino sold out Madison Square Garden 187 times.  Saturday night, you could say he did it for the 188th time, as Bruno was the headline inductee into the WWE Hall of Fame.  The Class of 2013 is without a doubt the best class to ever be inducted.  Bruno, Mick Foley, Booker T, Bob Backlund, and Trish Stratus all held the heavyweight title at least twice.  Celebrity inductee Donald Trump adds some start power and hate him or not, the WWE made the decision years ago for the celebrity wing, and I have no problem with his admission to the wing.  This was my first time at the Garden, and although I had hoped to see a wrestling match there, the Hall of Fame ceremony was a special night.  Wrestling fans need to continue to work on the jeering and cat calls during speeches, in particular Maria Menounos.  Also, the Hall of Fame is a special occasion, trade in the wrestling shirt, jeans, and replica belt for a button up shirt and khakis as the very least.

Welcome to Wrestlemania!: Every year the card seems a bit lackluster heading into the event, but there's something about being in the crowd live for Wrestlemania.  This year being in New Jersey and outside, it was quite chilly.  Early into the show it started to rain, but luckily it only lasted a few minutes.  I had a great time Sunday night.  CM Punk and the Undertaker stole the show in a match that seesawed like any Undertaker Wrestlemania encounter.  There were points when it looked as though the streak might come to an end, but once again, 'Taker picked up the win and went 21 and 0.  There's wasn't a match on the card that disappointed me, but I will say I didn't real feel that "Wrestlemania Moment".  Oddly enough, that would come 24 hours later...

Finally... Dolph is the champ
Photo courtesy: WWE
Dolph Steals the Show: Since Dolph Ziggler won the Money in the Bank briefcase fans have speculated on when he was going to cash it in.  Finally, on the Raw after Mania, the Showoff did just that.  He took advantage of an injured Alberto Del Rio to win the belt.  There were a few times I thought Del Rio would come back and win, but in the end, Ziggler won the gold.  The crowd that night was the most entertaining I've ever been a part of.  Chants for ECW, "Macho Man" Randy Savage, and  Fandango's theme music were just a few of the things that were heard.  Of course many of these happened during Randy Orton and Sheamus' match, which I would imagine didn't sit well with the superstars.  Even after the show had ended people continued to hum Fandango's music.  So not only on April 8 did we see Dolph Ziggler step to the next level, I think we also saw the official launch of Fandango.  I'm curious to see where WWE goes from here, as Wrestlemania is typically a reset for a new "season."  Ryback and John Cena seemed destined to feud and I like where things seem to be headed with the Shield, Team Hell No, and the Undertaker.

It was a great weekend.  This of course is the condensed version.  We hope to have all the pics posted on Facebook in the coming days.

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