The Road to Wrestlemania: A Trip of a Lifetime.

I apologize for the lateness of this article… I moved since getting back from Orlando, and have had some technical difficulties that kept me from uploading the media I wanted to use for this article!

 

As some of you know who read my articles, I have been a life long wrestling fan. I have been watching as long as I can remember and it has always been a part of my life, one way or another. When WrestleMania was announced, and I found out my grandparents friends were getting it on closed circuit tv, I begged to be allowed to watch, as they said it was an “adult party” that I wouldn’t be interested, in wrestling anyway, as it was “for boys”. Begging, pleading, and naming all my favorite wrestlers worked, and I got to watch it with the guys my grandfathers friend had invited over. This was just the beginning. When pay per view became a thing, we would order the special box for the wrestling shows, my grandfather would invite his friends, my moms sister, and her family would join us in watching it at our house, or invite us to theirs to get the PPV. Wrestling was the one sport that brought my family together in any way.

This was my first opportunity to go to WrestleMania, despite many offers and failed attempts in the past. Like when my friend spent $4k on fake tickets, he insisted were real, despite not being from Ticketmaster. He was arrested for trying to sell the fake ticket I refused to attempt to use to an undercover, and spent 2 nights in jail.  (Don’t buy tickets through scalpers who put ads on craigslist, or in the paper, only buy them through Ticketmaster, or verifiable reseller sites.) Even last year I was asked to go to WrestleMania, but the person wasn’t ever intending on taking me, or so it seems…

When the possibility of going this year came up, I didn’t put too much into it, as I rather not get excited about things that may not happen. But when my plane tickets were purchased, and we began forming an agenda, I knew it was real. Holy shit…. I was actually going! We procured tickets to WrestleMania, The WWE Hall of Fame, RAW, and Axxess for Thursday. We also booked for PromoterCon at WrestleCon, and planned on hitting up some of the independent events. When we began looking for a hotel, all that was available was lower end motels, so I began looking at other options. Usually I wouldn’t do this, but since we were heading to Orlando, Florida, I didn’t feel bad about booking an airbnb, as its a city full of vacation rentals. We found a lakeside rental, only 10 minutes from the airport, that could sleep up to 8 people, and it cost less than a small cheap motel for the week!

We flew out last Wednesday, and luckily had no big issues. We got our rental car, picked up our WrestleMania Flyers and went to the spot we rented. It was quaint, but clean and spacious and perfect for working when we had downtime as well as entertaining guests. We called it an early night so we could be ready for the weeks events, and the fact is I am on Los Angeles time, so the three hour time difference made it harder for me to be a morning person. I managed to get up and get dressed up, and we hit the road just about on time. On our way we stopped at WaWa, which is a treat for me as I live in Los Angeles, and we don’t have them there. And anyone who has been involved in east coast independent wrestling knows just how important WaWa can be, and I procured my favorite beverage, WaWa Green Tea!

At #PromoterCon #RoadToWrestlemania #Wrestling #BetWrestling #Orlando #Wrestlecon

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Our first stop was PromoterCon, which was a panel on promoting wrestling shows featuring: WWE Hall Of Famer JJ Dillon, Owner/Founder of WrestleCade Entertainment & AML Wrestling Tracy Myers, Owner/Founder of Gimmick Tree Entertainment & Modern Vintage Wrestling Charlie Armstrong and Owner of Combat Zone Wrestling and WSU, DJ Hyde. The event’s tagline was “Putting Butts in Seats” but honestly they could have done a better job getting folks to this. With my background in promoting shows, and working in production, I was quite interested in this event, but honestly I didn’t learn anything new. It was more geared towards beginners and folks who had limited knowledge of how to run live events. It probably was helpful for a few in the room. And it was nice to see Bill Apter there, who gave a short speech on wrestling media. Bill Apter is the longest running wresting journalist I know of, and he is full of all kinds of useful info, and I wish I would have had more time to chat with him of all people, but we had more to do!

Our next stop was WWE Axxess, which I already wrote a little bit about. The first person I saw that I know was “The Hobo” former CWF Hollywood Champion. The line was huge to get in, it took half an hour but moved pretty quickly. When we got inside it was a little overwhelming, as there was a lot to see and do. Some of the highlights were the Foam Pit Ring, the Superstar entrance way, the promo cutting booth, as well as many other interactive displays.

There was a ring set up for a few 205Live/NXT matches, presentations, interviews, and more. Fans also go opportunity to get autographs and photos with their favorite WWE superstars, and there was a massive WWE Pop Up Shop there as well. Overall it was a fun experience. Here is a clip of WWE Hall of Famer Alundra Blaze on women’s wrestling.

#alundrablayze at #axxess on #womenswrestling #wrestlemania #RoadToWrestlemania #Wrestling

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The next day we attended the WWE Hall of Fame Ceremony and watched the class of 2017 be inducted, which included: Beth Phoenix, the Rock and Roll Express, Ravishing Rick Rude, Teddy Long, Kurt Angle, and others. There were heartfelt speeches from Nattie Niedhart, Ricky Steamboat, Jim Cornette, and JBL and Ron Simmons as they inducted this years class.

Day 3 we headed to the WWN shows, which due to miscommunication we did not actually have tickets, for, but due to our connections we did end up attending the afternoon Chikara Pro show. If you are not familiar with Chikara, they are my favorite independent wrestling promotion. They are one part lucha, one part Japanese, one part catch, with some american independent wrestling blended in. You never know what to expect. They kicked it off with a trio’s match, which is a tag team match with teams of 3 instead of 2. Chikara actually has  whole tournament built around these teams called “King of Trio’s” which if you can get tickets, is not to be missed! We also got the rare opportunity to see their trainer and mentor, Mike Quackenbush in some action with Zack Saabre Jr. This match was yet another technical masterpiece. I really enjoyed it. In fact I enjoyed the matches so much, I didn’t bother with a review. Its really hard for me to write up reviews when I am really into watching something. The lighting also made it impossible to take photos if you were not sitting at ringside, so all my pictures came out blurry.

After checking out what was going on in the independent scene we headed out to meet up with my friend Melissa Coates, who is currently working with Sabu, as his wrestling genie sidekick.We met up with Melissa, Sabu, Jaime Dauncey, Crystal Carmichael and others, and headed out to Kevin Nash’s Shenanigans VIP Party. Though I did not see everyone who was listed in attendance, I am sure way more folks were there. We got there later in the evening, and the place was packed. It seemed the venue was far from prepared for the madness that ensued. You literally could not walk. Plus as we were in attendance with Sabu, fans were so excited to see him, at times it seemed they were more excited to see Sabu than Kevin Nash! I finally got opportunity to meet Al Snow, and I couldn’t help but mark out a little, as he really has done a tremendous amount for the wrestling industry and those in it. Other notable folks in attendance were: Shane Helms and his lovely wife, RVD, OBD, So Cal Val, Abyss, Amber O’Neill, Billy Gunn, and so many others we either did not spot or can’t remember to name at the time of this article. Shout out to  The Pro Wrestling Report for putting together such a fantastic event! Here is a clip of the the crowd preparing to do a shot with Kevin, as you can see it was packed, and pretty wild.

Kevin Nash’s party #RoadToWrestlemania #wrestlemania #Orlando

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We got back to our rental extremely late/early depending on how you look at it. Everyone else went directly to sleep, but I was so stoked… WrestleMania was only a few hours away! After a couple hours of browsing through twitter, I finally fell asleep. When I woke up it was time to prepare for the biggest day of the year! We got ready to go, waited for the rest of our party to return from their early morning expedition and headed to the Camping World Stadium, aka The Citrus Bowl. One thing that blew my mind was that parking was $150 per car. No I didn’t add a zero or extra digit… you read that right… one hundred and fifty dollars to park a car!!! Seriously that has to be the most ridiculous parking charge I have ever heard of in my life. If I were to pay that, the motherfucking valet better clean and polish my car, and drive me home. My plane ticket home to Los Angeles cost less than parking at the stadium!!! So we did what any smart folks would do, we found a business owner a few blocks away who was renting his trucking company lot for $30 per car. Whoot! If I wasn’t in heels, I would have been down to park even further away. Note to anyone ever going to Orlando for major events, parking is expensive and can be a bitch, as there is not much street parking to be found.

We got inside, and much to my horror, we were sitting up in the top of the stadium. I have issues with vertigo, and an ridiculous fear of falling, (probably because I am a total klutz.) so it took me about 15 minutes to adjust to our seats. I wrote the match results as we sat there, but they were brief as there is no pause button on a live event. I was so happy that we got there in time to see Neville vs Austin Aries. I don’t care what anyone says, I love watching these guys wrestle. I been a long time fan of Aries, and Neville just keeps getting better and better. This was one of my favorite matches of the night and it wasn’t even on the main card! Ambrose vs Corbin was way to short for my liking. Shane and AJ were just as wild as I expected. The Owens/Jericho match was meh. I think I had enough of it the month before. The RAW Womens Championship match was also disappointing as I would have liked to see Nia Jax go further in the match. The 4 way Tag Team Championship Ladder match was OFF THE CHAIN!

Holy shit its the Hardy’s!!!! #WrestleMania #WWE #ThisIsAweome

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We saw the return of the Hardy’s, which though speculated for 2 weeks prior, got one of the biggest pops of the night. The Hardy’s walked away as the new RAW Tag Champions. Next was Miz and Maryse vs Cena and Nikki Bella. Cena Proposed to Nikki after the match. She should have said no. Rollins vs HHH was kinda a snoozer. As much as I love Rollins, I am incredibly bored by HHH. Stephanie saved the match by falling through a table though, and effectively putting her out of commission for a while. Orton vs Wyatt was interesting. Watching them project worms on the ring was a nice touch, though it would have been nice to see Orton sell it as if the ring was moving and writhing under him. Hopefully that storyline gets buried with the worms…   Lesner vs Goldberg… I can’t even remember watching it, I am so bored by those two. SmackDown’s Womens Championship match was WAAAAAY too short. So happy for Naomi, she has come a long way and deserves that belt! And finally the main event… The Undertaker vs Roman Reigns. It was really hard to see The Undertaker moving so slowly, and really having difficulties with things he once made us go crazy for. That man has put his body through an incredible amount of hell for our entertainment. I think it was a huge honor for Reigns to be the one working him in his last match, and to be handed the torch so to say. Overall the match wasn’t of the highest wrestling quality, but for nostagia, and pulling at the heart strings, it was a 10. Wrestlemania ended with The Undertaker leaving his hat, gloves, and jacket in the ring, signalling his retirement.
My first in person WrestleMania was a great one, and probably the most memorable one in the 33 year history of WrestleManias.

Outside #AmwayCenter for #RAW @wwerollins this cracked us up.

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The next night we were back at it, and headed out to Monday Night Raw at the Amway Center. When you watch RAW on TV, some folks don’t realize in order to get the crowd riled up there are often matches for Main Event, or other WWE pre taped shows, so the fans have something to cheer for After the match taped for Main Event, the entire arena chanted “Undertaker” over and over. Those who watched RAW live that night, said the TV show opened with us chanting, and it gave them chills. The first segment was Roman Reigns coming out the the ring for a promo. The fans in attendance boo’d for what felt like an eternity. Roman said one simple statement “This is my yard now” and walked off. Other highlights of RAW were Kurt Angle being named the new GM, Cesaro and Sheamus becoming the #1 contenders for the tag titles, and the return of Finn Balor! The crowd was on FIRE when his music hit. I know I say it a lot, but it is awesome to see those I knew from my independent wrestling days make it to TV.

After RAW was over Goldberg came out and said his goodbyes for now. It was kinda sweet as he brought his kid to the ring and acknowledged his wife, and his life as a dad. Here is our after-RAW report from the rental.

The next day we went to breakfast with Osiris and his entourage, we caught up on some north east indy wrestling. After parting ways we then considered going to Smackdown, but instead decided to hit Disney World, specifically the Magic Kingdom. Can I say Space Mountain might be my favorite ride ever? Also got to spin around wicked fast on the tea cups, and look at the bizarre ideas Walt Disney held of the world.

Last day in #florida at the beach. Its a beautiful day!!! #CocoaBeach #wrestlemania #BetWrestling #Downtime

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Our last day in Florida we decided to hit the beach. Cocoa beach is beautiful! The water was so nice, considering I have been on the west coast so long, I forgot how nice the ocean could feel when its not freezing and full of oil…

Overall the trip was great. It was nice to catch up with long lost friends, and make some new ones! We are already planning on next year, so watch out New Orleans, here we come!!!

RAW

Monday Night Raw Results 4/3 Finn Balor RETURNS!

WWE Main Event matches:

Akira Tozowa d. Drew Gulak

Titus O’Neil vs Curtis Axl, Titus O’Neil took the win.

RAW:

RAW opens with Roman Reigns who the crowd is booing… Roman finally gets to cut his promo and every time he lifts the mic a new chant starts… the fans in attendance will not let him speak! Asshole,  please retire, go away are just some of the chants in the arena. Roman finally speaks. He says “This is my yard now” and drops the mic. Really that’s all that needed to be said.

The crowd at the Amway Center are hot tonight folks.

Speaking of heat… the first match tonight is Gallows and Anderson vs the Hardy’s  (c) in a rematch for the RAW Tag Titles. The Hardy’s retain the championship.

Neville comes out and cuts a promo, says Aries is a better talker than fighter. He also states that tomorrow they will have a party on 205Live. During his promo Mustafa Ali comes out, seems to be a non title, Cruiserweight bout. Neville d. Mustafa Ali. Mustafa Ali is fun to watch. Hell pretty much the whole division is awesome if you don’t already subscribe to WWE Network you should so you can catch all the Cruiserweight action on 205Live!

Vince McMahon cones out and thanks the fans. He announces that next week there will be a shake up, so I am guessing its draft time. He then shows a clip of Stephanie going through the table, crowd goes nuts, he says we are insensitive and cuts a promo on us, then announce a new general manager. Teddy Long’s music hits… he dances out but Vince tell him its not him… holla holla holla. The new gm is…. Kurt Angle!!!! All Kurt has to say is, “It’s great to be back!”

The New Day comes out to rhe ring with some awesome spikey pastel shoulder pads. They cuts a promo about not wrestling last night. Then they issue a open challenge to anyone in the locker room willing to fight them. The Revival answers the challenge, and wins by pinfall.

Enzo and Cass complain to Kurt Angle that they want another shot at the titles. Promo was hilarious.

Next up is Bayley, Dana Brooke, & Sasha Banks vs. Emma, Nia Jaxx, & Charlotte Flair, in a six woman tag match. Sasha got a submission on Charlotte for her team to win.

Sami Zayn tried to butter up Angle to build a relationship with him. Jinder Mahal comes in and insists he should have won the battle royal. Kurt says from here on out we settle our issues in the ring and makes a match between the two.

Up next… Brock Lesner… ugh.

Brock and Heyman come out and call out Roman Reigns… The dog catcher Brock Lesner?  ha flks sitting around me are getting silly. Heyman wants a match tonight. Braun Strowmans music hits, he comes to the ring, basically challenging Lesner… Lesner seems up for the challenge.  The stare each other down then Strowman makes his way back up the ramp.

Backstage interview with Jericho its gonna be Jericho and Rollins against Owens and Samoa Joe tonight. Jericho wants revenge. He is going after the tip of Owens finger which has now just made the list. Owens attacks Jericho mid promo, along with Samoa Joe, they beat Jericho down an put him through a table.

Angle tells Rollins the match must go on and he will find him a partner.

Enzo Amore and Big Cass vs. Cesaro and Sheamus to determine the #1 contenders for the Tag Titles. Cesaro and Sheamus get the won and are the new #1 contenders.

Sami Zayn vs. Jinder Mahal, Sami Zayn wins by pinfall. That was fast.

Kevin Owens and Samoa Joe vs. Seth Rollins and Finn Balor!!!!! Aaaahhhhhhh!!!!!!!!! Finn Balor and Seth Rollins win via pinfall.

Goldberg comes out and talks from the heart about his return, his family, and the fans. He directly addresses his son, making him tear up… He then called his kid to the ring, he says this isn’t part of the show. He got to take the belt to hi young sons school to show the kids there. He said whether we cheer or boo that mean he’s done something. He then says this may be the last time we may ever see him in the ring. He ends with ‘we never know what or who is next. One more thing… never say never”.

WWE Axxess Report 3/30

As this is my first Wrestlemania trip, we are hitting up some of the events that WWE is doing leading up to the big event.

Yesterday we attended our first ever WWE Axxess event. What Axxess is, is basically a wrestling convention but done WWE style. There were autograph signings, live wrestling, interviews, and all kinds of interactive exhibits.

Some of the exhibits included: A Foam Pit Ring, The Elimination Chamber, A promo video booth, an superstar entrance way, The Undertaker entrance set, with druids, caskets, and all the creepy stuff to go along with it. Also there was the cage from WWE Fastlane, that Jericho was suspended in above the ring, so I locked my boss in it for good measure.

We only got opportunity to see a little bit of the wrestling, as there was a lot to look at, but we did catch Gallagher vs Davari, and it was a nice little match. I am really starting to dig Gallagher, he gets better and better with every match.

Also we got to see an interview with WWE Hall of Fame Alumni Alundra Blayze (Aka Madusa) about the current women’s division. Her insights were right on, and extremely inspiring.

#alundrablayze at #axxess on #womenswrestling #wrestlemania #RoadToWrestlemania #Wrestling

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We also got to see the unveiling of the Ric Flair bronze statue which was made by artist Karen Atta, who has also made statues of other WWEHOF members.

There is also a museum space set up with gear from Hall of Fame inductees past and present… here are a few of the displays that caught my eye.

Teddy Long’s Suit and Ref Gear

Rock N Roll Express Gear #axxess #wrestlemania #wwehalloffame #WWE

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Rock N Roll Express Gear

Ravishing Rick Rude Gear #axxess #wrestlemania #wwehalloffame #WWE

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“Ravishing” Rick Rudes Gear

Georgus Georges ring gear! #legends #wrestlemania #Axxess

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Gorgeous George’s Gear

Georgus Georges ring gear! #legends #wrestlemania #Axxess

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Harley Race and Ric Flair Ring Jackets

We also explored the massive WWE Pop Up Shop at the convention center… I really want some of those lunch boxes, they were probably my favorite thing there.

Again WWE has missed the mark on some of the womens shirts they have available, many of which have this weird beach tourist stand vibe, and at $30+ were ridiculously expensive for mid quality shirts. WWE could make more money from merch if it was more affordable to the masses. Just my opinion here as I know the costs involved in making merch, and at the level they make it, the cost vs what they make off the merch is an extremely large gap, and by lowering prices, they would probably sell double the amount of stuff. Not to mention there are great deals if you buy online this week from WWE Shop!

Also, it would have been nice for the ring to be more centered, so you could see the matches from the lines you were waiting in, and maybe slap hands with the wrestlers entering the ring. To me that would be the centerpiece of the event.

And lastly, getting people to pay for autographs of current talent seems to be a bit much, its understandable to pay for an 8 x 10, but you shouldn’t have to pay twice just to meet someone, especially current talent.

Overall it was fun, and definitely would have been more exciting if I was a casual fan, and not someone who works in the industry. They need to add contests, and I would have loved to see a set up to play WWE2k17 as well as a booth to make your character and upload it to play with.

I am glad I got to experience this first hand, and see the displays in person, because it’s just something you have to do at least once.

For more photos and videos make sure you follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat @BetWrestling

And don’t forget, you can get WWE Hall Of Fame 2017, and Wrestlemania for FREE as part of your first month of WWE Network!

My first trip to Wrestlemania

So as I write this I am sitting at the airport, and my plane has been delayed. But I have to say I am super duper stoked for this trip!

Update:
The delay wasn’t so bad, and despite being miffed they ended up making me check my carry on, it all worked out.

We rented a place by a lake for the week, so its incredibly quiet and perfect for work when we aren’t out and about. Since I live in LA, I got used to hearing helicopters, sirens, car alarms, and other nonsense all night, out here its just us and the crickets.

We officially get started tomorrow, and have events lined up all day. First we will be headed to PromoterCon, then we are headed to WrestleMania Axxess which is like WWE’s version of a wrestling convention, and then I hear we may hit the ROH show up, which would would be great first day out. We plan on hitting quite a few of the independent events up that are happening including “Brian Christopher’s Too Sexy Wrestlemania Party” On Friday night.

The WWE events we will be attending this week are Axxess on Thursday, Hall of Fame on Friday, Wrestlemania on Sunday, RAW on Monday, and Smackdown Live on Tuesday.

To follow all the fun, make sure you follow us on social media @BetWrestling on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat! Feel free to hit us up to hang out!