It’s been a little more than a week since I boarded on a plane to get to New York for a two-and-a-half day excursion of New York, and I’m still in love with the city. I have a desire to live there because, as my friend Eden once said, “It’s my speed.”
Getting there, I was focused on getting some reading done. I slept on the flight to Denver, before boarding another plane for a long trip to New York, which allowed me to read the comic story that started the Marvel Now universe, Avengers vs. X-Men, on trade paperback. I must say, despite knowing what happens at the end, I was still amazed at how good the story was, and I’m glad I started reading comics again.
But that post is another time, as I will start doing comic reviews here in the near future. I’m blogging about New York and my mini-vacation to experience Wrestlemania live and in person. Now if you’re looking for just my thoughts on the card itself, go ahead and skip this early part since I’ll be talking about my travels around New York before. I made it pretty clear where my thoughts on Wrestlemania came. Just scroll down to the Wrestlemania thoughts section of this blog.
I arrived at my hotel a little before 6 p.m., and called up my buddy Matt Maxson to see what he was up to. Surely enough, I discovered he was just a few blocks away in a San Francisco sports fans bar, where it was packed to the gills of San Francisco Giants fans. Less than 45 minutes in Manhattan, I already discovered a bar I would frequent for 49ers games. We met up and caught a few innings of the Giants game, before we set out to get me to where I needed to be: The Meadowlands Expo Center for Combat Zone Wrestling’s WrestleCon card.
Maxson was polite enough to help me through the subway system and getting me on the New Jersey transit to help me find my way to the Meadowlands Expo Center. Once I got to New Jersey, I looked like an idiot when I couldn’t find the bus I was looking for to take me to the Expo Center, and I was forced to take a cab with a nice Filipino mate, who told me about his two sons and daughter who was studying to be a nurse in the Philippines. He was kind enough to give me some advice on what I should do when the card ends.
Once I got the expo center, the card was a little late, but once it started, it was pretty much what I expected. Solid workers taking bumps that were solely intended to draw pops from the card. Two matches stuck out in my mind. The first was a comedy match featuring Greg Excellent and Colt Cabana, whose podcast I love, and the second was the main event with the “Crazy Monkey” and Japanese hardcore wrestling legend Jun Kasai taking on Texas-born, Japanese trained brawler MASADA.
Let’s just say, the match between MASADA and Jun Kasai isn’t for the weak of heart. There were panes of glass that shattered. There were barbed wire boards, and a LOT of blood. I’ve never seen a person bleed so much in a wrestling match since, well, The Great Muta, but Jun Kasai took the cake with this blade job. The ending saw MASADA retain his CZW World title after sticking some bamboo skewers into Jun Kasai’s off-eye.
Once the card let out, I was given the task of getting back to New York. Luckily, I met a nice made name, Wade, from North Dakota, who offered to split a cab with me. We got into the cab, and met some nice fellows from Scotland, including a developer of a iPhone wrestling management game, Wrestling Manager. I suggest trying the game out, it has a steep learning curve, and I plan on reviewing it when I get a full grasp of things.
Unfortunately, before I was able to give Wade my share of the cab, he didn’t have change for a $20, so he let me off with a free cab ride. To make up for getting a free cab ride, I donated my share to homeless people I felt needed my cash (Don’t ask what the criteria was, I just gave people randomly). Odds are you’ll never see this blog, but thanks for the cab ride and paying it forward. After a few train rides and exploring the New York subway system, I got back to my hotel at 2:30 a.m. for a few hours of rest before getting out the next day for another round of adventures.
Saturday was a little less, wrestling oriented. I met up with Maxson and his fiancee, Ashley, for brunch at Fred’s Restaurant before Maxson and I set out for a day of cruising around the city.
Oddly enough, my first stop was a comic store in Manhattan called Manhattan Comics. I must say I spent a good 30 minutes in that place, just looking at what they had on hand. I left with a few comics, adding to my collection. The next place we went was a nice little walk called The Highline. That was an awesome walk with some great views of the city. I’m going to cut this portion short because it really was just us walking past Madison Square Garden, the Empire State Building, Universe Comics, Radio City Music Hall and a look at Time Square where we saw the WWE Title on display in a Toys ‘R Us.
After taking a short subway ride back to Uptown New York, we met up with Ashley again and had Shake Shack, a fine New York establishment that puts to shame many burgers. After dinner, we grabbed ice cream and went our separate ways, as I planned on watching the Final Four in my hotel room.
The next day was Wrestlemania. The atmosphere in that stadium was insane. The parking lot was full of wrestling days of all kinds, dressed up as characters and tailgating. The event was four hours, and we got home by midnight. I stayed with Maxson and Ashley for about four hours before I got up and hitched a ride back to LaGuardia airport and found myself home and back to reality.
When Maxson and I got to Wrestlemania about four hours early with no beer in tow (we couldn’t find any), we walked around the parking lot a few times catching a glimpse of the type of people in the parking lot. We were applauded for the shirts were wearing. I was wearing a CM Punk shirt, while Maxson was wearing a “I’m a Paul Heyman Guy” one. There were a lot of fans who knew who Colt Cabana was, thanks to my headband.
I quickly discovered how cold it was, and opted to wear my sweater once inside the stadium. We caught a glimpse of Ric Flair getting into the building, as we walked toward our gate. Once the gate opened, we quickly got up to our seats and saw that our view wasn’t terrible at all. We could see the action in the ring pretty clearly, but having the binoculars helped. We ate, drank beer. Cheered our favorites, booed who didn’t like. Met a cool fan in the row in front of me, who won a dollar from me because he knew what was Dean Ambrose’s name prior to signing with the WWE (Jon Moxley).
It was an experience I have to say all wrestling fans must have. It can make up for a predictable card because the energy in the stadium was insane. Even when John Cena won the belt, there was still a sense of energy, and I want to go to Wrestlemania 30.
Some thoughts on the card itself:
- I’m glad The Shield went over. No way, does a hodgepodge team of two faces and a thrown-in heel should beat a squad that already beat the three top faces of the company.
- Fandango vs. Jericho was a tolerable match, until the ending which seemed force and didn’t flow right. I want to give Fandango a chance, and maybe the New Jersey fans on RAW gave his character more life than it really had.
- It’s probably for the best the tag team titles stayed with Team Hell No. Dolph and Big E winning the belts would have done nothing to boost their status and the longer Team Hell No holds onto the belts, the bigger the deal when they lose them and the team blows up.
- Mark Henry vs. Ryback was awful. Probably the worst match of the show. The match went eight minutes, and even that felt too long. The part I didn’t get was why we got our visual, Ryback hitting his finisher on Mark Henry well after the match had ended. Wouldn’t have it been better had he just hit it in match and won?
- I wish I could tell you that I cared about the Alberto Del Rio vs. Jack Swagger match, but I didn’t. They burned an awesome entrance by Swagger, coming out in a little golf cart, and the match never got off the ground. Truthfully, I’m glad they took the belt off Del Rio and gave it to Dolph Ziggler, who the fans wanted to win the belt more than anything.
- CM Punk and the Undertaker put on arguably the best match of the night. Does it rank in the top 10 of all time like some people are saying? No, but the match was filled with drama and somehow, despite our hearts and minds telling us otherwise, we believed that CM Punk could actually break the streak. That’s a testament to how good Punk is and how good Taker is when he’s motivated. Easily a 4-star match in the Delos ratings.
- I’m probably in the small minority who believed that the Tons of Funk vs. Rhodes Scholars eight-person tag match was definitely needed. The emotional drain that the Punk vs. Taker match took on us was clearly felt, and unfortunately, Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar suffered because of it. Lesnar vs. Triple H was a good match, which suffered from an exhausted crowd who had emotionally invested in the previous bout. Fact, it’s the second time this has happened to Triple H at Wrestlemania. The first was Wrestlemania X-8, when his match with Jericho came after Hogan vs. The Rock.
- The Rock vs. John Cena match never really got going. It’s a shame because I know both of these guys can do great things, but two matches in their history, it’s nothing to write home about. It lacked the drama Rock vs. Hogan had in a sense where you had two limited workers, who put on a dramatic match. There were some good spots, but the ending was just a mess. Cena going into his SuperCena mode kicking out of a bunch of Rock Bottoms and the People’s Elbow, and ultimately beating The Rock with his finisher. Thankfully, it was shorter than their Wrestlemania 28 bout, but I want to say that Rock’s injury had something to do with the match’s slow middle and really boring ending.
- Overall, I give this card a 7.5 out of 10, after looking back on it. The card itself flowed and capped off storylines, but it can’t be any greater because of how predictable the entire card was. I wonder how Wrestlemania 30 will shape up. Either way, if I get to go, it will be an awesome experience.