Derek J. Hernandez

YES!-tleMania: My WrestleMania XXX Experience

It’s taken me a little longer to put this together than I originally anticipated, but it’s taken me that long to come down from my YES!-induced high. This was my first WrestleMania and it’s definitely something I will never forget. New Orleans did more than just roll out the red carpet as the host city…they damn near re-carpeted the streets of NOLA (YESLA?) to make the WWE Universe feel right at home.

Without a shadow of a doubt, my WrestleMania XXX experience will always be one of the top experiences in my life. It was amazing experiencing it THEN, it’s something I’m still excited talking about NOW, and it’s something I will remember fondly FOREVER. See what I did there?

Let’s get hyped and stay hyped with my documentation of my WrestleMania XXX experience…

(All times are approximate) 

Saturday, April, 5:

7:00 AM – Not rasslin-related, but I definitely notice there is NO Creighton Bluejays merchandise or apparel at the airport. This may not seem like a big deal for those of you that have even heard of the school, but considering Creighton is supposed to be “Omaha’s team”, you would think they would include some Jays gear at the Omaha airport. There is plenty of Huskers stuff though…naturally.

7:15 AM – I decide to download the WrestleMania App and am instantly bombarded with updates regarding all the Axxess signings and events. The app also tells me I’m 847 miles from the Superdome. I’m so close yet so far.

7:40 AM – Death, taxes, Undertaker winning at Mania…and me getting “randomly” searched at airports. I thought I was about to break my non-Southwest Airlines flight streak of getting searched, but nope, they need to check my little Jordan backpack before I get on board. EAT. SLEEP. GET SEARCHED.

8:05 AM – My flight from Omaha’s Eppley Airfield is set for take off. Unfortunately, I spot zero wrestling shirts in the cabin. I know this will change soon…VERY soon.

10:00 AM – We arrive in Dallas…or is it North Texas? Forth Worth? Whatever this particular area of land is called, I have to literally Santino speed walk to my next gate since my connecting flight leaves in a half an hour and the airport is filled with people there to watch the Final Four.

10:25 AM – WWE shirts galore! I finally feel that I’m with my people. I see a few WrestleMania shirts from years past, but the one that catches my eye is this Faaaandaaango shirt. I have a seat open right next to me and I’m sort of praying this dude sits next to me so we can chat. He ends up sitting in front of me and I was thisclose to whispering “Faaandaango” between the two seats in front of me, but I hold back.

12:05 PM – I’m in the NOLA, baby!

NOLA turned into YESLA

NOLA turned into YESLA

1:00 PM – Evidently Taaka is a big deal in Nawlins? I see these billboards all over the city.

Just add...people?

Just add…people?

1:45 PM – Finally hit up Bourbon St., which is right next to my hotel, and as I was about to pick up a tallboy for my little stroll I notice these sitting at the checkout counter at the bodega…

You think El Generico uses these?

3:30 PM – I hit up The Beach on Bourbon and people are losing their minds. If I have to guess, I would say that the bar’s incredible 3 for 1 special probably played a part in all that. Actually, every single bar I pass on Bourbon had some sort of special similar to The Beach’s. It’s like they are dying to give booze away or something.

Just a heads up, but if you’re planning to bring your family or your spouse to this bar you may want to think twice about that. The drinks were cheap and the music was good, but the waitresses were VERY forward with their advances and would basically make out with you to get you to take shots. I’ll leave it at that. And no, it wasn’t because of my awesome La Parka Bumpin’ A Boombox shirt…

CHAIRman of the Board

CHAIRman of the Board

5:00 PM – I gradually make my way down Bourbon and I walk into a bar with a cover band playing some tunes. The streets are almost entirely filled with wrestling fans and this bar is no different. I chill there for a little bit and then the band starts playing Voodoo Child. I’m on the verge of marking out but to my surprise no one in the crowd starts doing the whole Hogan strumming the guitar/championship belt thing. Lame.

7:45 PM – You remember that bar on Bar Rescue with the flashing skull cups? Yeah, I finally make it there. I feel obligated to grab one of their famous Resurrections since the cup is cool, but I’m not feeling what’s actually in the cup so I drink fairly slowly. While I’m there I make my way to the infamous barber chair since all I hear are YES! chants. It was an awesome sight to behold.

Rasslin’ fans + Booze + Bourbon Street = THIS IS AWESOME!

What makes the scene even more awesome is Brian Freakin’ Knobbs walking right through the bar and towards the back. I ask the bartender what’s going on and she says that The Nasty Boys were there to sign some autographs and take pictures. I think to myself there’s got to be a long line, but I have time to check it out. As I walk through the back, I’m stopped by a dude in a Macho Man Randy Savage outfit. He’s in complete character, but I finally get him to break kayfabe for a second and we take a picture together. Oooooh yeaaaah!

nWo 4 Life!

nWo 4 Life!

I immediately remind Macho Man that he’s dead and his spirit disappears into the background. Get it? We’re at Spirits and…nevermind. After my brief run-in with Macho Madness, I finally make it to the back and chat it up for a minute with The Nasty Boys. No Pit Stops were taken along the way.

It was time to get nasty in Nawlins!

It was time to get nasty in Nawlins!

???? AM – At this point I’m pretty lit up, so everything is a little blurry to me. I do remember hearing some pretty kick-ass cover songs by street performers and vaguely remember doing my best Randy Orton impression in front of some New Orleans landmark though…

This statue had more personality than Randy Orton.

This statue had more personality than Randy Orton.

Also, this figurine of The Mountie kicking it with the Pope is an actual thing and definitely something I needed to stop and take a picture of. New Orleans took the host thing pretty damn seriously.

The Mountie

Sunday, April, 6:

9:00 AM – The day has finally come!

12:00 PM – After some crab cakes for breakfast, I head down to the New Orleans Convention Center to attend WrestleMania Axxess. I spend an arm and a leg for admission tickets and what do I see just outside the main entrance? BOB BACKLUND. He’s signing autographs for a very short line for free, but just as I walk up to him he says that he wasn’t doing anymore and headed inside to his signing table. Damn. I would have totally let him cross-face chicken wing me.

12:03 PM – Wow. They really roll out the red carpet for fans. Of course, we paid for a good portion of the carpet.

WrestleMania AxxessEva Bot gets her own panel?

12:03:01 PM – My WrestleMania App blows up with way too many notifications. Thanks for welcoming me the event though. I bet Michael Cole is sitting in a control room somewhere sending out these notifications manually.

12:04 PM – Before I stand in multiple lines in half an hour increments, I decide to scope out the set-up. They offer a various WWE-related stations like a Money In The Bank stage where you can pretend you’re beating Kofi Kingston up the ladder, an NXT ring is set up in the middle of the of the whole thing, and various signing tables where you get to meet and greet past and present WWE Superstars. I’ll touch on specifics in a bit.

HOOOOOooOOOO!

HOOOOOooOOOO!

12:06 PM – As I make my way around Axxess I see this lady in a teal dress walking rather fast in my direction…it’s EMMA. I thought about bugging her for a picture, but she was up next in one of the signing booths. She was grouped with her NXT rival Summer Rae.

No dance offs...yet.

No dance offs…yet.

12:10 PM – I think about waiting in one of the Superstar lines, but since the event ended at 2:00 PM I thought it was a better idea to hit up some of the interactive stations instead.

12:15 PM – The first station I go to is the WWE Superstar Entrance. I knew this station was going to be here and I’ve been thinking about what I was going to do for weeks. While in line, I notice the number of grown men waiting to do their best WWE Superstar impersonation totally outweighed the number of kids that were waiting to do the same thing. Take that for what it’s worth.

Before it is my turn to go, I notice that a girl has chosen to do AJ’s entrance. She does everything perfectly. From the skipping, to the crazy hair thing, everything. She totally knocked it out. Little did I know, that she wasn’t a she. It’s a dude that grew his hair out and wore an entire AJ Lee outfit. Yes, even the short shorts and Chucks.

12:35 PM – Anyways, you know that whole “Triple H buries people” thing? Yeah, that inspired this…

The kids don’t get it, but some of the adults do. THAT’S ALL THAT MATTERS.

12:40 PM – I hear Fandango’s music and immediately head towards the NXT ring. He and Summer Rae are playing with the crowd and talking about all sorts of dance moves which leads to Emma’s hypnotizing music blaring on the speakers. They have a mini-dance competition thing and Emma immediately heads to the back. 

Let the A's breathe...

Let the A’s breathe…

12:50 PM – The Axxess PA person notifies everyone that their is going to be a shift change at the Superstar signing tables. Because of my handy dandy WrestleMania App I know Trish Stratus is going to be at one….GOD DAMN IT. The line for Trish’s table spans all the way to Baton Rouge so that’s not happening. I decide to do the next best thing by waiting in line for the next big thing. Sami Zayn and a few NXT guys (Ascension & Rose/Kruger) are signing autographs at one table.

There I meet a disgruntled fan that waited forever to meet some legend whose name escapes me. The only thing I can make out of his rant is that the legend he waited in line for about an hour for was replaced by Aksana. Yikes. I would be pissed too.

I sit in line for 25 minutes and realize I’m not moving at all. At this rate, I won’t make it out to another station. We’ll meet sometime, El Generico.

This line moved as fast as  The Great Khali.

This line moved as fast as The Great Khali.

1:19 PM – The line for the WWE Museum is pretty short so I get in there pretty quickly.

To prevent this post from going well beyond 3000 words, I’ll simply post a gallery of the cool artifacts I saw.


Pretty badass stuff, huh?

As I’m about to leave, I notice a security crew is dragging a large box into the middle of the museum. It’s the Andre The Giant Memorial Trophy. I notice the camera crews and immediately try to center myself in a way that ensures I make it on TV. It sort of worked. The following screenshot was from the WrestleMania Pre-Show. Of course they used the worst shot possible….

I was literally right in front of the camera about 30 seconds earlier...

I was literally right in front of the camera about 30 seconds earlier…

2:30 PM – Let’s move this forward so I don’t bore you to death with my Axxess experience. Let’s just say it was an awesome time and that I wished the lines were a bit shorter. 

I get dropped off by the Superdome and the crowd is already in full YES! mode.

These are my peeps! Sorry, Christian.

These are my peeps! Sorry, Christian.

Superdome Beer Garden

2:45 PM – The big screen in front of the Superdome is showing last year’s WrestleMania and people are waiting in yet another long line for booze. Naturally, I get in line for the booze. I’ll get my wrestling fix in a bit.

As I wait in line, I meet an incredible cast of characters. Here’s a couple of highlights.

That was a girl that dressed up as Paul Bearer. Paula Bearer?

That was a girl that dressed up as Paul Bearer. Paula Bearer?

 

Am I El Dudley?

Am I El Dudley?

4:30 PM – I cannot understate how terrible the lines were to get into the stadium. You remember that Khali joke I made earlier? It was 10 times slower. Like tectonic plates moving slower. What made matters worse was the fact that just as I was getting close to the gate, the PA system announces that there are a few gates that have NO LINE. Jeebus.

This was my view for what seemed like an eternity.

This was my view for what seemed like an eternity.

5:35 PM – I get into the stadium and it’s even more madness. The Superdome may be the worst set-up I’ve ever experienced in terms of fan spacing and flow of lines. 

5:50 PM – from this point on, I’ll just point out a few cool experiences I had during the event. There are plenty of site that have covered this event and I would recommend you check out the coverage cagesideseats.com did for the show. This article in particular about Daniel Bryan’s journey to the ‘ship.

Highlights From Inside The Superdome:

-The stage set-up was glorious…

-So many people around me were calling for Stone Cold to stun the hell out of Hogan. I have a feeling they would have said that even without his now legendary “Silverdome” gaffe.

-This is how close I was to the stage. Thankfully I’ve been to a few live events before this and knew it was going to be LOUD by the stage. I came prepared with an earplug for my right ear.

WrestleMania XXX Stage

-That said, being this close and on this side of the stage did have its perks. Notice anybody in these pictures? We were a few feet away from these folks…

WM 30

Paige and Zayn

Paige, Bayley, Maddox

It's HOGAN! Oh, it's only Brooke.

It’s HOGAN! Oh, it’s only Brooke.

I could have literally been taking pictures of this area all night. DDP was there, ton of NXT guys were there and all of the wrestlers had to walk down that little stage area right next to us to get into the back. Seats weren’t too shabby.

-This was the moment I creamed my pants…

Stone Cold! Stone Cold! Stone Cold!

Stone Cold! Stone Cold! Stone Cold!

-THIS GUY…

Like Lesnar much?

Like Lesnar much?

-Remember how I had to skip out on that NXT booth earlier? Well, this guy was standing thisclose to me…

We meet again...

We meet again…

And then this happened…

We're basically like best friends now...

We’re basically like best friends now…

-Warrior Fry…#RIPWARRIOR

#RIPWARRIOR

#RIPWARRIOR

-WTF happened? I know there were reports about people leaving after this happened, but everybody that did “leave” eventually came back at the tail end of the Divas match. You guys ever here of a “Cool down match”? People were shocked and pissed though. You could hear a pin drop in the arena after Lesnar pinned Taker 1-2-3. 

WTF

WTF

-Obligatory AJ pic…

Light it up!

Light it up!

-YES! YES! YES! I’m not exaggerating when I say that the entire stadium had a YESGASM after Bryan won the title. It was the YES! chant to end all YES! chants. Also, I’m not exaggerating when I say there was a shit ton of confetti being shot into the air. People were doing snow angels at the end of the night. I’m not that cool so I only took a couple pieces of the confetti.

YESGASM!

YESGASM!

 

Memories in my hand.

Memories in my hand.

-We’ll end this journey with an NCB promo from Hulk Guy (Parker Adair) and El Terrible (me).

P.S. I uninstalled that damn WrestleMania App as soon as I walked out of the Superdome

P.S.S. Thanks to old lady for giving me the best birthday gift ever. Makes turning 30 a little more bearable.

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