WrestleMania week has come and gone. I was able to attend my fifth ‘Mania since 2011 and second in New Orleans, LA. in four years.
WrestleMania 30 and WrestleMania 34 weekends were similar in some aspects and polar opposite in others. The weekend in 2014 presented a certain aura to it. “Yes-tle Mania” was at its peak. There wasn’t a split within the fan base. Everyone was solidly behind Daniel Bryan winning the WWE Title. Undertaker’s streak came to an end that weekend and the Ultimate Warrior was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, sadly passing away days later.
The 2018 feel was a mixture of excitement for the debut of Ronda Rousey and return of Bryan to in-ring competition to a “we have been here before” mentality. Last Thursday, Dana White broke the worst kept secret in MMA that WWE Universal Champion Brock Lesnar plans on rejoining the UFC. Paul Heyman hammered in several interviews and his live show at the Joy Theatre that Lesnar’s contract expired at midnight the night of WM34 and his would expire shortly after.
The moaning and disdain of the Universal Championship match with Lesnar and Roman Reigns was stronger than the “scent” that Bourbon Street is notorious for. Many fans knew this was the plan for this main event dated back to one year ago. The smart mark crowd was given A.J. Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura for the WWE Championship, but that did not seem to matter to even the “This is Awesome” crowd. No matter what you thought of Lesnar or Reigns, the WWE did a great job of giving you a stacked card as if nothing else a distraction from the top of the card.
Sitting through a seven-hour wrestling show for the second year in a row is exhausting. The effect of the length of the show was clear to the world wide audience. Past the Rousey/Kurt Angle vs Triple H/Stephanie McMahon mixed tag, the crowd was pretty much spent. Bryan got a great reaction as well as the intros for Styles, Nakamura, Undertaker and John Cena. Asking a crowd to stay hot for seven hours is virtually impossible.
For my personal experience, I took in WWE Axxess three times, attended Heyman and Bruce Prichard’s live shows, Impact/Lucha, Ring of Honor and House of Hardcore. After three days of taking in over 17 hours of wrestling related activity, the exhaustion can set in even before the main event of the weekend. There probably are some, but most fans do not just travel to the site of ‘Mania to just watch one show (as long as it might be) with so many other wrestling related events to attend.
All things considered, it was a fun time in NOLA and I believe every wrestling fan should attend at least one. WM34 did not drag on that much to me. I think a lot had to do with the depth of the card. The wrestlers/personalities I did meet were approachable and did not have a bad experience in that department.
I am not a huge “indy fan,” but watching the independent shows were entertaining, although I do not think I can increase my weekly wrestling intake to accommodate all of the promotions that I saw shows for over the weekend. The Ring of Honor crowd was electric. I think Cody Rhodes and Kenny Omega had a good match, but I felt it was simply impossible to match the hype of their match.
NXT Takeover was a solid show and I love the way the WWE handled their call-ups on Monday and Tuesday. Outside of the first segment, the “Raw-after” crowd wasn’t as rabid as crowds that I have seen in the past. That is not a bad thing. I think Carmella’s cash in was great. It kept Charlotte strong and keeps her strong for a future Wrestle Mania match against Rousey, gave Carmella a spotlight and debuted Peyton Royce and Billie Kay in a high profile spot. It also gives them flexibility to use the title to build other females other than Charlotte and Asuka.
All in all, I think each promotion had a successful weekend and it was overall an enjoyable experience.
Chad Dixon (@Dixon23rtr)