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Feels like the first time: My WrestleMania maiden voyage

Feels like the first time: My WrestleMania maiden voyage
The press box in the Mercedes- Benz SuperDome allowed me to experience a WWE event in a way I never imagined. Photo by Jose Partida

Growing up as a wrestling fan in my house was tough. We did not have cable, so the only reason I was able to watch SmackDown was because it was on local television. As far as Raw was concerned, I had to wait until Telemundo aired a dubbed Spanish version on Sunday afternoons to know what was happening on a show that aired almost a week before. As you can imagine, I did not watch many pay-per-views growing up. My parents were not going to pay 60 bucks a pop to feed my wrestling fandom.

I was about to turn seven when WrestleMania X-Seven took over Houston. This was before my time as a wrestling fan, and I did not watch it until I was much older. Knowing that perhaps the best ‘Mania of all time occurred in my own backyard is still something that ails me to this day. Stone Cold shaking hands with the devil himself. The first ever ladder match between the Dudleys, Hardys, and Edge and Christian. There are so many memories from that show engraved in my head.

This year, I was fortunate enough to live out the dream I have had since I was a child. Interestingly enough, my first opportunity to go to a WrestleMania was thanks to a media credential. Still being new to the sports media industry it was an interesting opportunity. This was not only my biggest credentialed sporting event, it was going to be my first time at the Showcase of the Immortals.

The city of New Orleans housed the biggest wrestling weekend of the year, and rightfully so. It’s uniqueness deems it the opportunity to be engulfed in the world of pro wrestling. As I walked into the Mercedes-Benz SuperDome, I did not feel nervous like I do when I attend other media events. I felt like I belonged there.

I was handed my credential, and would you believe it, as soon as we walk through the door Jeff Hardy was sitting on the ground on his cell phone. The Jeff Hardy. The guy who took the monstrous 20-foot Spear from Edge at X-Seven. The guy whos ridiculous arm sleeves I wanted to have. I did not speak to Jeff, who was on his phone the whole time. I waited for the elevator to take me to my press box, but seeing him triggered a feeling of nostalgia that remained with me the entire night.

Once I finally found my seat, I was greeted by a gigantic program that was almost the size of my entire workspace. In it was pages with the matches on the card, a list of the talent from every brand-from NXT to Raw, and a section of the WWE HOF. I stopped skimming through it in time to watch Matt Hardy win the Andre the Giant Battle Royal, and thus began a seven-hour experience of wrestling.

My vantage point allowed me to get a perspective of the entire arena. A sea of over 70,000 people moving in unison to Daniel Bryan’s arrival, an orchestra of silence and awe as Asuka’s undefeated streak came to an end, and an eruption of excitement as Ronda Rousey dominated the squared circle. It was absolutely mesmerizing to see so many people feeling the same exact feelings in those moments.

Experiencing those masterful entrances in person was incredible. Watching Charlotte and her throne spoke to her dominance on SmackDown, Triple H and Stephanie once again showed they were not going to be outdone with their Biker entrance, Nita Strauss’s rendition of Nakamura’s theme song gave the rockstar a fitting entrance for his first ‘Mania match, and Undertaker’s hat and coat appearing in the ring marked the return of The Phenom.

Watching Seth Rollins win the Intercontinental Title was great, especially considering he was the third and final Shield member to become a Grand Slam Champion. Watching Ronda Rousey show off against two HOF competitors was as unbelievable as it was amazing. Observing Charlotte and Asuka prove that women can wrestle as good, if not better, than men was so validating. It was without a doubt a night full of unforgettable moments.

I expected a lot of things, ask Jermaine Every as I beat him in our prediction article, but I never expected to be as overtaken by WrestleMania 34 the way that I was. This past weekend the WWE helped me create memories that will always stick with me for the rest of my life. The kid who had to hear from his friends what happened on that year’s WrestleMania got the chance to experience one first-hand. I am now a few days removed from the experience, and I still cannot shake off the feelings I felt getting to experience that show from that perspective. WrestleMania 34 was my first WrestleMania. I went as a credentialed media member, but I never felt more of a fan than I did that night.

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