Wrestlemania. . .
It’s Nestlemania’s Christmas. It’s the showcase of the immortals. It’s the ultimate thrill ride.
This year I had the chance to live it, and it was truly everything I could have imagined. . . and more.
I had the pleasure of attending Wrestlemania 33 with my wife, my brother and sister-in-law.
We arrived at the Citrus Bowl (I refuse to call it Camping World Stadium) at around 3:00pm armed with Firehouse Subs, beer, water and A TON of chips knowing we have a long road ahead of us for the evening.
It was about 92-degrees with the sun beating down on the parking lot PACKED with people in costumes roaming around with signs. Pretty much everyone was passing out business cards and stickers for their podcasts and blogs (we kinda/sorta dropped the ball on that one, Nestlemania and JC. We’ll remember this for NEXT TIME!).
Now it’s time to head inside. . .
The entrance gates are MOBBED with people waiting to get through security (which is very tight, for obvious reasons).
After a solid half hour we finally get inside. The girls got a good laugh because they didn’t have to wait in a long line to get into the restroom, but we did. Which led to this observation I made on Twitter. . .
After a combination of stairs and escalators, we reach our seats. With full credit going to my brother TJ, we have great seats with a completely unobstructed view of the ring, stage and entrance ramp. And the best part, we didn’t spend a small fortune to get them.
There was no shortage of entertainment before the actual show started. Down on the lower level there was a group of guys dressed up as Stone Cold, Ultimate Warrior, Ric Flair and Kalisto wrestling, accompanied by a referee. There were a number of (poorly executed) finishers and attempted pinfalls. Literally everyone in the stadium was LOCKED IN, counting the 1. . . 2. . . 3.
Now. . . it’s time for the ultimate thrill ride to begin
Neville vs. Austin Aries
Leading of the kickoff show was a blessing for Aries and Neville. The crowd was hot from the moment Aries’ music hit. As expected, it was a great match between the two. The ending was great storytelling with Neville raking Aries’ eye. From our seats we couldn’t see the eye rake, but definitely appreciated the ending more when we saw the replay on the big screen.
Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
The (jobber) battle royal lived up to it’s reputation. I mean, seriously. . . the final two people in the match were Mojo Rawley and Jinder Mahal.
My biggest knock on the match? Why the hell didn’t Sami Zayn have his own entrance?
Big Show and Strowman got eliminated early and that kinda sucked the buzz from the crowd. . . until Gronk got involved.
Being from Massachusetts sometimes it’s easy to forget that the Patriots are hated by pretty much everybody else, so there was more boos that cheers for the Patriots tight end.
Dean Ambrose vs. Baron Corbin
There were a lot of surprised people in the stands when Corbin’s music hit during the kickoff show. There was a lot of love for Corbin in the crowd on that night. Even in a “meh” match like this one, Corbin’s potential is seriously undeniable.
AJ Styles vs. Shane McMahon
Once again there were a lot of surprised people when we saw AJ vs. Shane was leading off the main card, but it was definitely the right choice.
AJ got a huge pop and Shane heard the boo birds. During the match everyone in our section was joking about what Shane could possibly jump off for his “Wrestlemania moment” (the globe, the rollercoaster, the ring above the ring were a few of the ridiculous suggestions).
It was a solid match between the two. AJ Styles did what we all expected to do, and Shane was pretty impressive as well. We got to see the usual Shane spots – coast-to-coast, flying elbow through the table – and we also got to see a shooting star press attempt.
Kevin Owens vs. Chris Jericho
Owens and Jericho didn’t disappoint.
One thing that sucks about being there live is not being able to hear Kevin Owens’ trash talk in the ring. I’ve always said his in-ring banter is one of my favorite parts of his personality. But even without the chatter, the crowd was really into the match.
It’s really amazing how OVER Jericho is. The new tron countdown, giant inflatable “List of Jericho” and Light Brite scarf only helped his cause at Mania.
Bayley vs. Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax
We all know
and love the tag line “The Ultimate Thrill Ride,” but the Raw Women’s Championship match was a rollercoaster of it’s own.
It began with Bayley tripping on the stage and only half of her “Wacky waiving inflatable arm flailing tube men” inflating on the stage.
Then the match started strong with the trio ganging up on Nia Jax – including a Shield-esque triple power bomb and pile-up pin. Then Charlotte had another picture perfect flip to the outside. The audience was in the palm of their hands.
Then it went downhill as fast as Kingda Ka.
Sasha was eliminated abruptly (we couldn’t see the turnbuckle get removed, which made matters even worse). Then the turnbuckle – which we still didn’t know was removed – comes into play again when Charlotte runs into it. Bayley drops the elbow, and it was over.
There were lots of moans and groans in the audience from the quick finish. I was a little more okay with it after I re-watched the show, but it definitely felt rushed.
Hardy Boyz vs. The Club vs. Cesaro and Sheamus vs. Enzo and Cass
What an experience. . .
As stale as Enzo and Cass’ shtick is on TV, it was amazing in real life being surrounded by 75,000+ people joining in.
Biggest pop of the night, right?
When the Hardy’s music hit, the stadium was legit shaking.
I have been to a bunch of WWE pay per views, and I have NEVER heard a pop like that.
There were a few really quirky moments in the match, but there’s so much carnage going on in ladder matches I think they should get a pass for minor details like that. When the Hardys won the place was electric AGAIN. It was arguably one of the best moments of the night.
Cena and Nikki vs. Miz and Maryse
This match was so much fun. Cena was getting his usual response with a pretty loud “JOHN CENA SUCKS!” to the tune of his theme. But the best part of the match was the Miz hamming it up to the adoring crowd. The match ended pretty much the way we all expected it to with the AA/Rack Attack at the same time.
When Cena hopped out of the ring to get the microphone we all pretty much knew what was coming. Lots of people headed for the bathroom and others started the “NO!” chants.
Seth Rollins vs. Triple H
I’m going to have to agree with Nestlemania and say this match was the low point for me. The entrances were cool, but the match itself was really slow moving and the crowd wasn’t all that into it.
Things picked up towards the end and really peaked when Stephanie went through the table.
It wasn’t a terrible match, but after two years of buildup, I was expecting a little bit more.
The match definitely could’ve used an appearance from Samoa Joe, Finn Balor or someone else to shake things up.
(SIDE NOTE: This is the part of the show that I really started feeling the effects of the long day and cramped bleachers)
Randy Orton vs. Bray Wyatt
Bray Wyatt’s entrance was absolutely amazing. Video of it really doesn’t do it justice.
This match definitely felt rushed in the grand scheme of things, especially when you consider the time and effort that has gone into the buildup. The ring effects were unexpected and really cool. Every time they appeared there was a mixture of giggles and cheers.
Pretty much everyone around us (including myself) was surprised Orton won the match.
Despite losing Wyatt is super over right now, I’m expecting big things for him (maybe a face turn to chase Orton?) after losing the title.
Brock Lesnar vs. Goldberg
I’m not a Goldberg guy, plain and simple.
I think his act kinda wore out it’s welcome with other fans as well, because there was a solid foundation of boos echoing through the Citrus Bowl.
But unlike the recent Goldberg matches, this one was put together perfectly.
They’ve made Goldberg’s moves look so strong over the last three matches that every time he hit one everyone around me had a “oh no, not again!” reaction.
Lesnar walks out of Mania with the title and a happy universe.
Naomi vs. Alexa Bliss vs. Carmella vs. Mickie James vs. Natalya vs. Becky Lynch
As the hours rolled by I kept thinking, “oh man, is this match going to be cut!?!?”
Everybody got their signature moves in. Naomi got a huge pop in her hometown for her entrance and victory.
After 6+ hours of wrestling, this match became an afterthought, really. I personally think they would’ve been better off in the kickoff show. It would’ve gotten more time, there also would’ve been more energy from the crowd.
Roman Reigns vs. The Undertaker
The chorus of boos for Roman Reigns was one of the highlights of the night.
The reaction Reigns gets is really amazing.
A lot of people could be seen leaving the stadium before the match. I know it was late and people don’t like Reigns, but I would’ve been kicking myself for leaving before what ended up being Undertaker’s final match.
The match really wasn’t great. I don’t really blame Reigns for it, either. Undertaker’s age was definitely a factor. The failed tombstone was really a lowlight and was met with a stadium filled with moans and groans.
But the real story is what happened AFTER the match.
Undertaker laid down his gloves, jacket and hat closing the book on his historic career. There were grown men crying, and that’s not a joke.
Although I was ready for the end of his illustrious career, it was still an emotional night and an amazing moment that I will never forget.
(SIDE NOTE: My brother has now seen Ric Flair and Undertaker retire)
Just like 7 hours at Wrestlemania, I’ve kinda ran out of steam at the end of this post. So I’m just going to reference my tweet from the end of the night. I feel like it summed up my feelings about my first Wrestlemania
Did I forget anything? Do you have questions about my Wrestlemania experience? Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter or leave a comment.