On our final day of looking back at the best of Wrestlemania before this year’s epic tomorrow night, I wanted to do something different – instead of focusing on a single match, I want to try and describe what it is like actually being there. It’s a kid’s dream to walk through the hallowed gates of Wrestlemania and when you DO it, it is no less magical, perhaps more so. Let’s take a trip back to 30.03.08, Kendall A. Lacey at Wrestlemania 24, baby!
The first thing you notice on the way to Wrestlemania is the people. Now we have got used to seeing the massive audiences on TV, it’s almost just become numbers, WWE sets a new record for attendance, so many thousands, yes whatever, what’s the next match. But imagine all those people heading for the stadium. That’s when it hits you, everyone on the streets has signs, masks, t-shirts, you name it, if it can be branded, people are wearing/carrying it. Astounding.
Eventually the traffic just stops and there is no alternative but to get out and walk the last stretch to the venue. People walking past give you a “hey!”, point at your t-shirt, do the X sign or whatever, suddenly it is like one big family heading for the biggest get together of them all.
Opposite the stadium is a load of displays hyping the various matches and there are WWE alumni there to – Hillbilly Jim was there, waving to the fans. As an old school fan, that was enough to get me marking out, even before the magic that awaited.
Entering the venue I when it hits you, massive, absolutely massive. It’s not like when you go to Wembley or the O2, the sea of bodies never seems to end. I was next to a nine year old kid who had been taken there for his birthday by his mom. In front of me was a guy dressed as The Undertaker, look up the sides and there were a million WOOOOO! Signs which made me smile. The party was on.
Planes flew over, John Legend sang the anthem, fireworks exploded, I was AT Wrestlemania! Astounding. Of course there had to be a point to visit the restrooms (hey, it’s America therefore, it’s Restrooms!) and that point seemed to be highlighted in the program by a match between Batista and Umaga. Now I like Batista and watched his awesome entrance, but Umaga on this ticket was just a bit of a joke, rather as Khali is these days. Refreshments were calling! Two pint cans of Budweiser! Some kind of magic! Grabbed one of them and a NES John Cena shirt (double nerd points) and headed back in to the magic.
The most emotional moment of the night was Ric Flair’s final match against The Heartbreak Kid, the place just exploded, seeing two of the titans of the sport against each other really was incredible and the screens showed HBK say “I’m Sorry” as he hit Flair with the Sweet Chin Music and ended one of the greatest careers of them all. Wooooo!
The Undertaker’s entrance really is a chilling shivers up the backbone moment, much more epic than it seems on the TV, awesome. Taker was facing up against Edge, who put in a quite savage performance and you really believed that the Streak could fall, but as we know, that did not happen.
At the end of the night there were more fireworks lighting up the Orlando sky and the loudest noise from the fans you had ever heard. Ever tried to get a taxi outside a stadium with 70000 people? Just hung around with a load of fans and we compared shirts and talked about the matches and it was all great, then someone said “Dude, this is yours” and the taxi was mine.
Undertaker, HHH, Flair, HBK, The Big Show, Mayweather, Snoop Dogg, Ramon Symone. What a day/night. Trust me, it not only lives up to everything you’ve ever imagined about Wrestlemania, it smashes the ceiling of those hopes and stuns you into submission. If you’re going to Wrestlemania XIX, then you will be left with memories that will live a lifetime. Cherish them. Raise a glass to Vince McMahon and the athletes who train their guts out to give us such an event. Magical.