For thirty-two years and counting, WrestleMania has been the biggest day on the calendar in sports entertainment. For this year's edition, the motto "Everything's Bigger In Texas" held true in many aspects. The event was held in one of the biggest stadiums around in AT&T Stadium, where the Dallas Cowboys play. It was the longest event in WrestleMania history since they are no longer confined to the pay per view restrictions, and it was also the biggest crowd in WrestleMania history to attend the event.
I've been a professional wrestling fan all of my life, but this was the first time I have ever been to WrestleMania. I definitely recommend that you experience this once in your life because I'll remember this trip forever. Since this was my first trip to the "Granddaddy Of Them All," I decided to go all out and go to everything from Axxess, NXT Takeover, Ring Of Honor, and the Jim Ross One Man Show, to WrestleMania itself and Monday Night Raw. Each of these shows I attended had something great that gave me some great stories to tell.
This article will focus solely on the WWE side of things starting with Axxess and ending with Monday Night Raw. I will provide thoughts from my perspective during WrestleMania weekend, along with some of my own photos, including a nice surprise for my seat location at WrestleMania. Continue on to check out ten points of discussion covering Friday to Monday!
10 WWE Axxess Was Cool, But Frustrating
I arrived in Dallas Friday afternoon after splitting up a nine and a half hour drive from Nebraska, and the first event that I attended was WWE Axxess. It was very neat to walk right in and see the Hell In A Cell set up. There was also a memorabilia area with some really cool items and bronze statues of the immortals such as Ultimate Warrior, Andre The Giant, and the new statue of Dusty Rhodes.
The frustrating part of this event was the fact that I waited in line for over 90 minutes for a chance to meet Paul Heyman, and got to the point where there were about 40 people ahead of me, and they switched him out for... Darren Young and Zack Ryder. Since I had to go to Takeover shortly after, I didn't have time to find another line. At least they could have replaced Heyman with someone equally as high up on the main event ladder.
9 The NXT Crowd Was Hungry to Kickoff the Weekend
The great thing about NXT Takeover following Axxess was that they were in the same building. Roughly 10,000 people anxiously entered the Kay Bailey Hutchison Event Center to officially kickoff WrestleMania Weekend, and they were loud and rowdy the entire night. We were seated about three rows from the back, and as you can see here, the view of the ring was still great. Not a bad seat in the house.
All five matches were great, and four of the five matches went over fifteen minutes. One match in particular stole the show for the entire weekend, and I will talk about that in the next entry. The two title matches were phenomenal with Asuka beating Bayley and Finn Balor defeating Samoa Joe. While the injury to Joe's eye killed the momentum watching the match live, it seemed to flow better on the television broadcast.
8 This Could Be the Best Match I Will Ever See in Person
The middle match on the card was completely amazing between Sami Zayn and Shinsuke Nakamura. This was potentially the NXT swan song for Zayn while it was a debut that no one thought would ever happen with Nakamura. The crowd completely exploded at every mention of Nakamura leading up to this match, then when the time came, the arena became completely unglued.
There are times where being there live to witness a match can get lost in translation compared to the broadcast with announcers, but not this match. It was a complete 20-minute masterpiece, and it was honestly the best match I ever saw in person. One of the best chants to come out of the crowd was "FIGHT FOREVER," because nobody wanted this match to end. Unfortunately it had to with Nakamura winning, but the moment went to Zayn as the crowd saluted him for his time in NXT.
7 AT&T Stadium Is HUGE!
There is no secret that people know that AT&T Stadium, where the Dallas Cowboys play, is massive, but seeing it on television only tells part of the story. When you step into the stadium, you are just in complete awe seeing it with your own eyes. Our seats were in the 200 section (they go up to 400) and the view of the ring was pretty good. It is definitely hard to keep your eyes off of the "JerryTron" though.
The downside of going into the wrong end of the stadium like we did was that it took us 35 minutes to get to our seats, but thankfully we didn't miss any action (as some people who got in later did) due to problems getting into the stadium. The stadium itself was great, and so was the food! It was a perfect place for WrestleMania.
6 We Were Right Behind the ESPN SportsCenter Set
Some time after we got to our seats, I heard a group of people yelling "COACH" for past WWE announcer and current ESPN employee Jonathan Coachman. Sure enough he was right behind us with the SportsCenter set. Considering the stadium holds over one-hundred thousand people, those were some pretty outstanding odds to have those seats.
The great part of having those seats was being able to see Coach's reaction throughout the night. A couple notable reactions for Coach included the look of shock on his face after Shane McMahon made the massive drop off of Hell In A Cell, to complete jubilation when The Rock was talking smack to the Wyatt Family, as wrestling fans know the history between Coach and The Rock, and him getting humiliated by The Rock over the years.
5 The Show Didn't Seem Exceedingly Long Live
This year's WrestleMania was extremely long. The first match in the pre-show started at about ten minutes until 5:00 central, and Roman Reigns pinned Triple H around 11:00. In total (with the pre-show and Rock's six-second match) there were twelve matches. There were a lot of complaints regarding the length of the show, and especially if you're sitting on the couch for a six hour show, it could seem very lengthy.
Being there live, I didn't feel like it was too long. It could have been the great atmosphere of being at a live event with so many people or it could have been that it was my first ever WrestleMania experience, but there wasn't any time during the show that I wished that it was over already. I was invested and excited for the entire time, and surprisingly, never left my seat.
4 Odd Bookings Didn't Mar the Live Experience
If you could sum up WrestleMania in one phrase, it was a show of great wrestling, but very odd booking decisions with who won and what did or didn't happen. Some odd choices for wins included League Of Nations, Chris Jericho, and Charlotte. On top of that the show ended with a large chorus of boos for Roman Reigns as he defeated Triple H in the main event.
These didn't take away from the experience, but going forward you have to wonder why those decisions were made. Just the prospects alone of Shane McMahon in control of Raw would have made people look forward to the future. Instead, Vince continued to look out of touch with his fan base. With that being said, I didn't leave Dallas mad- I completely enjoyed the whole experience.
3 THUNDEROUS Reaction To the Enzo & Cass Debut
One of the hottest acts in the WWE today is the tag team of Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady. Since they were left off of the NXT Takeover card in Dallas, it would have been a travesty to not debut them in front of the always rowdy crowd on Monday Night Raw the night after WrestleMania. Thankfully, this was a decision that wasn't screwed up.
When their music started up, the crowd became completely unglued. It was truly something to witness live, being able to rap along with Enzo's usual entrance, and just seeing the energy of the crowd go up exponentially when they talked smack with the Dudley's. It was by far my favorite moment of Monday night.
2 The Main Event of Raw Was a Perfect Close To the Weekend
After attending many shows and seeing many matches from Friday to Monday, the final match would be a memorable one. First off, we got to see the return of Cesaro after being gone for five months due to injury, and the arena erupted with joy. He would be the mystery fourth opponent in a Fatal-4-Way match for the #1 contender with Kevin Owens, Chris Jericho, and A.J. Styles. The winner will most likely get a match with Roman Reigns at Payback.
While there were some odd decisions, lulls in the action, and lack of surprises, we were sent home happy with the fact that A.J. Styles outlasted his three opponents to become the #1 contender. The match itself was great, and was arguably the best non-NXT match of the whole weekend. The crowd was still energetic after for the final chapter of WrestleMania Weekend.
1 Final Overall Thoughts
As I reflect on my time in Dallas from Friday to Monday this past week, it will be something I remember for the rest of my life, and any pro wrestling fan should experience it at least once. I met people from all over the world and everyone was jubilant and happy to be experiencing this event. Regardless of how the results turned out, everyone was having a great time.
NXT was phenomenal and continues to grow at an exponential pace. Who knows how big it will get in future WrestleMania Weekends to come? WrestleMania itself was an amazing experience in such a large arena with some great moments that will live on forever. Monday Night Raw the night after WrestleMania is always an experience. Hopefully I can return someday.