The main reason for hitting New Orleans at this time was that it was the location of Wrestlemania XXX. Now I know wrestling has its critics but I've grown up with it and have embraced this particulary inner geek. Whenever I watched the big Pay Per Views I always thought it'd be cool to go one day, and for those that no me I've challenged myself to do the things I say that too. Plus 30 would be quite special.
I got to the Superdome very early, a large video wall was showing old main events and there was a beer hall to help get us find our cheering voices. Free wifi helped me kill the time, and I was getting lots of props for my anti-Cena t-shirt.
Most people were wearing shirts of the people they cheered for. I went for one criticising the wrestler I hated most. A key difference between US fans and UK ones :) To kill time I walked a lap around the stadium and I was called over by security and crew to show the shirt off. I guess criticising one of the company's main stars isn't a common thing.
With a few minutes before opening a decent crowd had formed. I was originally at the top of that but they made an announcement that people with ipads wouldn't be allowed in and we were to return them to our car. I didn't drive so it meant a quick dash back to the hotel to drop it off. Frustrating given the fact the free wifi encouraged people to use them. Fortunately the hotel was close (a 40 minute round trip)
Entering the stadium and I made my way down to my seat which was on the floor. Wanting this to be special I tried to get as close as I could managing a seat in row 12. You must be super informed to get ringside (the original plan). This is the pre-show desk with Booker T and Mick Foley amongst others.
First impressions were that the stage was immense, probably the largest set up I'd ever seen. Second impressions was that the organisation of this event was pants as having got to the floor I was told I needed a wristband and I had to leave again to get it. A minor quibble that'd be soon forgotten but one that was annoying a lot of people at the time.
Here's the view from my seat, it was actually closer than I thought it'd be.
The commentators were invited down first testing the zoom on my camera to its limits. Big lenses aren't allowed so the photo quality from now on isn't the best. The one obvious omission from being there in person is that you don't get the play by play.
Lillian Garcia getting ready to announce the start of the show.
First match was a dark match (not shown on the official pay per view) with several tag teams in a free for all.
The show starts and the Master of Ceremonies Hulk Hogan comes down. I'm not a fan of him at all but he got a resounding cheer from the crowd. Whilst he helped put WWE on the map and he does deserve props for that, he steals the limelight too much for me. I didn't boo, but I wanted to :)
But then Austin came out to a huge pop, I cheered too, and then the Rock, I cheered for him also.
and after a brief staredown and some piss taking at Hulk's expense for getting the venue wrong...
they all celebrate with an Austin beer. A great start to the show.
First match was Game of Thrones Hunter vs the leader of the Yes movement Daniel Bryan. The winner of this would get to the main event, and we all knew tonight would be about Brian. Still the crowd with their "Yes" chants were totally into this match, which Brian won :)
Second match was a squash as the shield destroyed Kane and the New Age Outlaws. The Shield are over huge and this match seemed to just fly past. Watching it on TV later had it run for longer than it felt.
After some wonderful misdirection using the screens to show some backstage interviews I looked back at the ring where 30 wrestlers had gathered for the Battle Royale. Cesaro did amazing here and won the crowd over...watching Battle Royale's live, especially from the back is a nightmare though. The Royal Rumble is my favourite event and I am hoping to attend one but I'd really need to be careful which seat I pick.
Next match was the creepy Bray vs Cena and this was a great match. Bray is new and has a great arsenal. Cena is just the company boy and he does get booed as much as he gets cheers.
A brief break for the inductees into the Hall of Fame. Lita looks odd in a dress!
Next match was Undertaker vs Brock. Undertaker went into this with a 21-0 win streak and most people assumed he'd make it to 22 but this was THE surprise of the night after a fairly horrid match Brock got a clean pin. Because people assumed it was a given, they weren't really into it but when the 3-count was hit the reaction was immense. Looks of disbelief were superb, and I was caught up in the whole thing. I had a stunned look - I'd just witnessed history being made but then burst out laughing. Some of the people close to my seat were so irate they were close to rioting. I know that wrestling is just theatre but boy did it get us emotionally involved.
A tough act to follow but the women's battle royale was just as entertaining as the men's even if a lot of the women just fell out of the ring to the floor. AJ managed to win this and retain her title.
Then onto the main event where Daniel Bryan beat Orton and Bootista to win the championship. This one was a given, a great match but people left the arena talking about the Undertaker match, and not this one.
Overall an amazing experience that despite spending most of the show standing up (you're at the mercy of those in front of you) was definitely more than I thought it'd be. I was blown away by the production as much as the wrestling, and I will go and see another but where the location works for me. New Orleans was perfect with everything in walk distance of each other and a great night life scene to go to after. Next years is in Cali where I know a car will be essential so I'll pass on that.