GG is chronicling WrestleMania 32 weekend.
Last year, I chronicled WrestleMania 31 weekend. But I did it all in one post. Five days of stuff all in one post. It only took me about 13 1/2 hours.
This time, I’m going to split it up into a few posts.
I don’t care all that much for flying, except that I get a lot of reading done. For this trip, I’m reading Jonathan Abrams’ new hoops book on prep stars who went to the NBA without going to college. I’m halfway through and it’s excellent.
I’m staying with my buddy Blake (aka Low Jones) who I saw last year, but haven’t seen for more than a day or so in several years. I got to hang out with his son who desperately wants me to watch him play his Legend Of Zelda game and his daughter, who I am training to be able to do a full cartwheel without falling by Monday before I leave.
Much like last year, WaleMania kicked off WrestleMania weekend. This year’s event was a little different, both for good and bad.
The best part for me was to hang out with Damian and his fiance Ines. Or maybe I should say Ines and her fiance Damian? I also was able to meet Robin and Becky, who let us sit at their swaggy VIP table.
Last year’s podcast was such a great experience that this year’s couldn’t touch it. It was quite the interesting mix of characters from Lucha Underground and WWE and a very vocal crowd who disliked WWE (even though just about all of them had WrestleMania tickets).
The podcast got out of hand a bit and it was hard to hear from the audience. Court Bauer, Konnan, MSL, Jim Ross, Kevin Sullivan, and Big Dave Meltzer manned the microphones for the most part. Alberto Del Rio, Big E, MVP, Teddy Hart (Mr. Money was nowhere to be seen), Mark Henry, and others were brought to the stage.
Whereas last year, the best part of the event was the podcast, this year, the best part of the event was the actual Wale part of WaleMania. Unlike last year, Wale didn’t do a mini-concert. He was essentially the master of ceremonies (MC) or the party starter, talking over some songs, hyping the crowd, and introducing other WWE talent who came through. Enzo Amore dropped 16 bars about Stone Cold Steve Austin. Fandango wandered aimlessly through the crowd. Mojo Rawley had the most fun I’ve ever seen anyone have taking photos with fans. Virgil was there eyeing some young lasses. Chris Jericho was backstage. Noelle Foley and the heat magnet, Frank The Clown, were hanging out.
It turned into a club atmosphere that would give Las Vegas night clubs a run for their money. The music was excellent and people were having a lot of fun. It was almost too successful as at times as it was so packed that I had a fire started, most of us would’ve perished.
By the way, Big Dave Meltzer could’ve made a ton of money if he had a gimmick table. He took no less than 50 selfies with all the wrestling fans.
Friday consisted of two things – the Friday dinner with the F4W crew at Texas de Brazil and NXT TakeOver: Dallas.
Thanks to the great Ed in San Antonio, the F4W dinner was the most successful one yet. There were almost 100 people from the crew there to eat endless amounts of meat.
I was able to see a few of the fellas who I haven’t seen for a little while like Ryan Frederick and others who I just saw last summer like Doc G, Ryan Pike, the Juons, Paul Fontaine, and tons of others who I will shout out more this weekend.
I was also finally able to meet Katee (@KateeForbis), who I’ve actually had on my podcast before. She’s the biggest Memphis Grizzlies fan in the world (okay, maybe top five) and when the Warriors faced the Grizz last year in the playoffs, I asked to come on the #BALLSOHARD podcast to discuss the series.
Don’t tell anyone else at the F4W Empire, but I snuck Big Dave Meltzer over at our table so that she and her family had access to fire off questions at him throughout dinner. And yes, to take more selfies too.
NXT TakeOver: Dallas
While I’m still looking more forward to WrestleMania than anything else this weekend, most of my friends were interested most in NXT.
NXT TakeOver is usually a great show. But this was the first TakeOver special to be held on WrestleMania weekend. It was also the hardest ticket to find. And it was Shinsuke Nakamura’s NXT debut.
The show was fantastic. There were two matches before the main card. Those who showed up early got to see La Sombra (as Manny Andrade) as well as an Apollo Crews vs Elias Samson match.
That was all fine and good, but the show really started with American Alpha winning the tag straps from The Revival. Save for Baron Corbin losing to Austin Aries in his debut, every match on the show was really good.
Nakamura was special to watch live. Every single thing he does in the ring means something, from selling, to throwing a knee, to waiting until the last possible second to do something so that the crowd is ready to burst with anticipation. He was amazing and Sami Zayn was right with him for just about all of it.
Asuka and Bayley had the unfortunate task following them, but they also had a really good match with a finish that was hard to see live, but I imagine was great on the TV broadcast.
Last year at WrestleMania weekend, Samoa Joe was in the main event at the ROH show. This year, he was in the main event at the NXT show. He faced the champ, Finn Balor in a match that was stalled because Joe was cut early on and they had to stop it a few times to try and stop the bleeding. It ruined the flow of the match which started off hotter than anything on the show. Balor won and we’ll see who ends up on the main roster on Monday.
I dislike most super vocal wrestling crowds because usually, they’re just trying to get their chants over (and super obnoxious). But this crowd was a bit different. They were still trying to get their chants over, but they truly loved watching what they were watching. I think it enhanced the show greatly.
Saturday is Evolve and the Jim Ross show. And probably shenanigans, but not with Kevin Nash.