Thursday, 5 November 2015

WrestleMania XXX [06/04/14]

I woke up in a bit of a haze on Sunday morning, thanks to the drinks on Saturday night after the post Hall of Fame ceremony celebrations on Bourbon Street. That's putting it lightly, I got back to the hotel in the early hours and was pretty hungover when I'd gotten up in the morning (or afternoon even). By the time I was up, Rihan and Shanks were already at the WrestleCon session. They'd woken up early that morning to support their home team Sri Lanka in the finals of the World Twenty20 - and congratulations, because they won! It made the day of WrestleMania that much sweeter for them.

Rihan and Shanks with the Dudley Boyz @ Sunday's WrestleCon session


By the time I was up and running, it was time to get ready for WrestleMania. Word on the street was there was all kinds of traffic heading towards the Mercedes-Benz Superdome - so the safe bet was to try and leave as early as possible. But as I said, first it was time to get ready :)

 
Getting ready consisted of those exclusive t-shirts I had designed just for this trip to Mania! The 2 themes were New Orleans and Evolution. As you can see Shanks modelling his version with "The Nature Boy" title on the front, and his name on the sleeve.



THIS is a Burrito!

The last meal before WrestleMania XXX

Pre-Mania selfie
The cab journey was especially exciting because at that point, New Orleans was buzzing as you could see all kinds of fans, wearing t-shirts of their favourite superstars chanting everything from "We the People!" to "YES! YES! YES!"






A lot of them were even dressed as their favourite superstars, such as 'Macho Man' Randy Savage, IRS, Ted Dibiase, Hulk Hogan and John Cena!


Rihan and I remember talking to each other about "Do you ever remember crossing the street with this many wrestling fans at the same time?" It was a sight to see as we all crossed over to the side that the Superdome was on, towards Champions Square.


 

Champions Square was completely jam packed with wrestling fans whichever way you looked - as it should be! They had marquee merch stands set up and I was eager to get some souvenirs at the time but the queues stretched out quite long.

 
 
 
 

SIDE NOTE: Keep an eye out for that Sri Lankan flag if you ever catch WWE WrestleMania XXX on DVD/Blu-Ray or the WWE Network - It's in the very opening segment when the camera is panning the crowd! Shanks, Pradeep and Myself (barely) made it onto WrestleMania! The lesson to take away from this is that if you ever bring a flag/banner/sign to an event, make sure you hold it up high and proud - but ensure that you hold it up behind you so you don't get covered by it, because you know when a camera might be on you ;)



Evolution is ready to roll!





 
 



Walking into the stadium is an exciting feeling, if you've ever been to a major event like this you know what I'm talking about! We were walking along the outside of the entrance block, trying to get to ours when I got really tempted to peak behind the curtains. As I did, I remember seeing how enormous in size this venue was but before I could take a look at the WrestleMania XXX set, Rihan called me back and said to wait till we got to our seats! He had a point but it was hard to contain the curiosity. Ofcourse everyone around the world, including my brother would already know what the set would look like... because the WWE had posted the following video on YouTube:



We bought our WrestleMania drinks in those HUGE souvenir cups, which are just awesome by the way! I was going to buy one earlier at the Superstore but Rihan advised against it as they would "have them at the stadium". My plan was to get 2. One for me, and one for my brother. I wish I would have just gotten one at the superstore earlier.. I'll explain why later.



Walking down the steps to our seats through the stands was memorable because that's when I got to see live in colour what people around the world had already seen on their laptop, tablet, phones and other devices' screens - the set of WrestleMania XXX. Now I'm not being biased because I was there when I say that this was the most impressive set I'd ever seen for a WrestleMania! Being there in person, looking at it while going down to our seats was awe-inspiring. It was almost too good, and had a draw of it's own. You might even say it was a bad thing (No, how can anyone even say that?) because it had the capability to steal the show, and could possibly take away attention from the superstars that would be walking out here tonight. In short - It was the most epic sight... EVER. Up until that point. It was definitely the best set I'd ever seen for a WrestleMania, and I guess I could say I was lucky because this one was my first. I couldn't think of a better way to lose my WrestleMania Setginity.




















WrestleMania XXX would ofcourse kick-off with the pre-show which featured 4 teams competing in a fatal-four-way elimination tag-team match for the WWE Tag Team Championships. The USOs would defend against Rybaxel, The Real Americans and Los Matadores. I'm not gonna lie, I missed the first 90% of this match as I considered it pretty important to use the toilet before such a long haul - better be safe than get up during Undertaker's match or not enjoy it because nature was calling. If there was ever a time to do your business before you settle down for a few solid hours of wrestling, it's either during the pre-show or a divas match (pre-Divas Revolution).

The USOs make their entrance on the pre-show

Set to defend the WWE Tag Team Championship belts

Fatal-Four-Way elimination tag team match

In our seats enjoying the show... almost time for WrestleMania!
After the pre-show we were in our seats and ready to go, the only thing left to do was start the show! Finally, after months of build-up we were live from New Orleans in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome - about to witness the 30th anniversary of the greatest Sports Entertainment Extravaganza in history - THIS WAS OUR ROAD TO WRESTLEMANIA 30! Also making history as the first PPV to air LIVE on the WWE Network! Hosted by Hulk Hogan. This was it. It was time! Well almost.




Below are some of the intro videos shot through our cameras of the opening of WrestleMania so take your pick, or watch them all! -



















Triple H had a pretty grand entrance but you can't expect any less than that from the COO of the WWE! It was definitely a great spectacle to see. So far we had seen Hulk Hogan, Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock and now Triple H - #Legends

If this was Mortal Kombat, then Daniel Bryan was about to go one-on-one with Shao Kahn - it certainly looked that way! But if there is anyone that could get the job done it was the general of the 'YES! Movement' Daniel Bryan. I especially loved the promo video package for this match that featured Imagine Dragons' song, "Monster". It fit perfectly, the video package looked great and it felt special because I hadn't seen that promo until right before the match. Too often now we'll see a match promo on RAW or elsewhere, then we're given the same one right before the match. Not this time, this one was never seen before - it felt special, and it definitely did the job. We were hyped for the opening contest!





Triple H and Daniel Bryan would wrestle an awesome opening contest with Daniel Bryan picking up the win and joining Batista and Randy Orton to compete for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship in a triple threat match in the main event of WrestleMania later tonight. Bryan would suffer a post match beat down though - weakening him up for his second outing later in the night. Let's hope this doesn't turn out to be some screwjob finish! You never know what will happen in the WWE..


#ThatAwesomeMoment when The Shield walks right by your section at WrestleMania XXX! Here are some stills I managed to snap from one of the videos -













Big Show and Sheamus made their way down to the ring as participants of the first ever annual André the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. It was cool to see something like this as I'd never seen a battle royal or Royal Rumble style match live ever.




Cesaro Swing! Dedicated to me :)
I was over the moon and delighted to see that Cesaro was indeed going to swing someone around for maybe 30 rotations like I'd suggested :) That unlucky fella was Kofi Kingston! Kingston also had a memorable moment after being launched over the ring post and out to the floor, but managed to keep his feet from touching them, by keeping them on the steel steps and getting back into the match! Incredible, he always manages to find his way back in to the match, only to eventually get eliminated again :) But he is damn entertaining!


My delight increased when Cesaro managed to pull off an incredible feat of strength and picked the Big Show up to scoop slam him out of the ring and become the winner of the first annual André the Giant Memorial Battle Royal! People look back and say that they were there when Hulk Hogan slammed André the Giant at WrestleMania III. Now we were able to say that we were THERE when Cesaro slammed the Giant at WrestleMania XXX! WE.. THE PEOPLE!

Cesaro slamming the Giant @ WrestleMania XXX

Cesaro celebrates with the trophy




Fans remixed chants of "John Cena sucks!" into his entrance





"That was creepy!" Chants after Wyatt bridges up and avoids the 5 knuckle shuffle


Cena defends his legacy and picks up the win against Bray Wyatt




It was Streak Time! Brock Lesnar has his sights set on conquering the immortal streak of the Undertaker that has withstood the test of time for 21 years! Two of the biggest names in the industry of pro-wrestling were about to collide, it's time for someone to "Rest.. In.. Peace.."
















The biggest shock of any WrestleMania had to be the one we received when time seemingly stood still after the match between Brock Lesnar and the Undertaker. I vividly remember grabbing Rihan's shoulder and saying, "Wait a minute that's the THIRD F5!" with a very uncertain feeling pulsing through my body. I'm sure I wasn't the only one...



Time stood still. That's one of the best ways I can describe what happened after the Undertaker's shoulders were pinned for the 3-count. There was confusion. Shock. Disbelief. It was one of those times where you had to ask yourself, "Wait, what just happened?". You might even be thinking to yourself, "Wait, was that supposed to go down like that?". It left the soul of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome winded, as if some force had sucked the life out of that arena. That's what it felt like. A melting pot of emotions that many fans expressed with the sentiment chant of, "BULLSHIT!"

What had we just witnessed? The undefeated, immortal streak of the Undertaker was no more. Time stood still. I'll say it again, time.. stood.. still. Everything was in slow motion, and then it all came rushing back to reality (for me atleast, can't speak for anyone else) when I looked up and it was carved in stone. The tron read:

"21-1" - I will never forget this image
After looking at the numbers, it seemed like the colours came flooding back, the noise was restored and it was etched in stone that this is reality. The Streak... is over.







Everyone around ringside, including the commentary team could be seen standing up and applauding the Undertaker, paying their respects. "Thank You Taker" was ringing prominently around the Superdome. Could this be the last time that we see the Deadman?

I remember getting up after this match to go use the toilet and the walkways were just rammed with people. People complaining, people upset and people affected by what they had just seen transpire. It was a shocking funeral feel and on top of that it was so ram packed you couldn't get anywhere fast. I'm more than certain some fans left after this match. I felt kinda bad for whoever was on next, but at the same time you couldn't really care less because you were so busy trying to comprehend that the streak was no more! What now? Being a Sting fan you're thinking: Now this match will probably never happen either. Did Lesnar deserve to be the one? Should CM Punk not have just defeated Taker last year? These are some of the topics that were swirling through my head as well as coming out of the mouths of many fans around at the time. I remember one guy being awfully smug and proclaiming, "Vince is a genius! And you all bought it, because now you're angry!" Everyone is allowed their own theory I suppose. I still couldn't make heads or tails of the situation at the time.

You can pretty much guess that I missed all but the ending of the 'Vickie Guerrero Invitational' match for the Divas championship. But Shanks was sure to get a couple of snaps -




AJ Lee successfully defend her WWE Divas Championship













The victory for Daniel Bryan was a victory for every single person in the Merceddes-Benz Superdome that night, along with wrestling fans from all over the world who had invested so much into Daniel Bryan. There journey we'd been on with him, since before he beat John Cena for the WWE Championship, and then had Orton cash in Money in the Bank against him. This long journey along the Road to WrestleMania finally culminated and it was electric! If there was anything that had the power to re-energize and bring the people back from one of the great lows of the night with Undertaker's loss - it was Daniel Bryan finally becoming WWE World Heavyweight Champion! One of the best WrestleManias in recent memory, with so many great moments!



















Post Mania:


Immediately following the conclusion of WrestleMania, I was having regrets about not getting the Undertaker (21-0) t-shirt for Anuj from the merch stands or the WWE Superstore. That would be the LAST TIME that a shirt like that would ever be made. Remember earlier when I mentioned that I had wished I'd just bought the other souvenir cup earlier? Well here's why. I didn't think they'd close the vendors stations so soon after the event ended. I really had to make sure I got this souvenir cup for my brother, and so I ended up going all the way around from merch stand to merch stand in the Superdome. All of them were closed, or not serving anymore. I know when I type it, and you read it, it doesn't seem like a big deal, but let me tell you - The Superdome is HUGE. I went everywhere trying to search high and low for these souvenir cups or the Undertaker t-shirt - it was all gone!

Luckily for me, there happened to be one very nice lady who was closing up her vending station, with the shutter down and everything but after some convincing I managed to buy the souvenir cup from her! Phew! It felt like a mission. I was starving. Again, luckily for me some of the staff outside the stadium were giving away Totino's pizza roll samples - they gave me a whole tray! Might as well have been a whole medium pizza! :) You gotta do what you gotta do to survive on the road!

In the process of trying to find merch/souvenirs I had lost the boys and was walking back downtown towards our hotel by myself. That surreal feeling kicked in again. I remember reflecting on The Undertaker's undefeated streak as I walked down Poydras Street. Still couldn't believe what we had witnessed. It also felt strange because all my life, watching WWE on PPV meant starting at 1am and finishing at 4am - as everyone in the UK is accustomed to. This time however, for the first time, I think it was about 11pm and WrestleMania had finished. Felt strange to me.

I got back to the hotel to find the boys huddled around watching something on YouTube about the events that took place at WrestleMania XXX. Before long we reset and got ready to spend a little time on Bourbon Street to celebrate with everyone else.



Bumped into Mojo Rawley from NXT on Bourbon Street




We also bumped into Ranjin Singh who was having a great time like everyone else was on Bourbon Street and we had to ask him about the streak! For those of you who don't already know, Ranjin Singh is a lead writer for the WWE. He said that he had no idea about the streak, and the decision to end it. He said that he was as shocked as we were. He said his mind was blown. This just has me thinking that there were probably very few people, maybe even less than a handful of people that knew what was going to go down. As much as we wanted to speculate at the time, we knew that in due time we'd find out what was what, but for the time being, just the shock value of having something like that happen was through the roof. Shanks was never the same again.

The celebrations on Bourbon Street would continue long into the night but I had to make sure that I was back earlier than usual. I still had some souvenir & gift shopping left to do for the people back at home and the only chance I would get would be to fit it in after the Swamp Tour we had scheduled for the morning. After that we'd most likely be getting ready to go to attend one of the wildest RAW's of the year - The RAW after WrestleMania...

STAY TUNED - ONE MORE TO GO
Thanks for taking the time to read!
Congratulations, You made it all the way to WrestleMania XXX with us!
Only Monday Night RAW left.
Mau (05/11/15) 19:25

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