So after New Orleans was the main event of the holiday: a trip to Dallas to tick something off the bucket list: Wrestlemania!
We actually spent a week in Dallas, but the first 3 days was in a pretty sweet AirBNB and we spent 3 days chilling in the city (including the newest entry on my favourite BBQ Pit ever, Lockhart Smoke House), but that was largely having a few drinks, a round of mini golf, and generally getting ourselves into a food coma.
On the Friday, we arrived in Dallas’ Sheraton hotel for the Wrestlemania weekend. We attended an all you can eat BBQ meal at Texas De Brazil. This came a close second in “Best BBQ food of the trip”, as it was slightly different. However I think the 3 day food coma after Lockhart scared me a bit so I avoided eating too much.
After that was probably the show that most of us were looking forward to that weekend, the NXT Takeover: Dallas. NXT is WWE’s separate brand which it’s developmental brand and the participants are often well liked by the hardcore audience. One such participant is Shinsuke Nakamura, widely regarded as the best wrestler in the world. Imagine if Freddie Mercury was Japanese and really good at kicking people in the head. NXT Takeover Dallas was Nakamura’s debut, facing long time favourite Sami Zayn.
This match didn’t disappoint, and was easily the second best match I’ve ever seen live. The crowd was lively for this match and it went longer than 20 minutes. It’s well worth checking out! The rest of the card was pretty good too, with the two title changes being standout matches, if the main event was affected by the early cut on Samoa Joe.
The next day I woke relatively early and headed to Wrestlemania Axxess. This was relatively disappointing mainly because the queues were incredibly long. It was expected to be fair and I am glad I went early as the afternoon session was just crazy. I did get to meet Goldust though which was cool, although the picture hasn’t shown up online yet.
The evening we got all suited and booted for the WWE Hall of Fame. This was actually a pleasant surprise on how good this was. It was good listening to the stories and tales, admittedly one speech dominated all – The Fabulous Freebirds speech was 45 minutes of just “I’ve a live microphone, I don’t care”.
After the event we headed to the House of Blues for probably one of the more crazier moments of the weekend, a Ringside Chat with Jim Ross. It was in the notorious House of Blues in Dallas and although the drinks were probably the most expensive of the weekend (even more than Wrestlemania beers in the AT&T), everybody was suitably sloshed. Jim told a few stories and then brought on his guest – Rob Van Dam – and then things kinda went drunken and rowdy. Not rowdy enough for the gentleman sitting next to me, who slept through most of it, but nevertheless it was rowdy. After a while Hurricane Helms and Jeff Hardy (who were not scheduled to be there) turned up and then it went really downhill with the Q&A section seemingly falling by the wayside. Nobody really complained though as it was a fun evening. I just wish I could remember more of it.
Onto the big day – Wrestlemania 32 at AT&T stadium. We started early, attending the Wrestlemania Terry Funk Tailgate which saw BBQ food, live wrestling, and an appearance and a meet and greet by legendary Terry Funk. The BBQ was wonderful (though the mash potato was cold? Was this a Texan thing?), and a nice surprise was that fairly well known wrestlers showed up including So Cal Val, Sami Callahan and (I think) Johnny Gargano. All – as well as Terry Funk – were lovely people. But after being fed and chatting with a few people, we headed over to the AT&T.
It has been documented that getting into the stadium was a nightmare. That it was. It opened late (not too late, about 15 minutes or so late), and it was blistering heat outside. After running to the concessions for a drink, we then went and took our seats a good half hour before the show started. Thankfully we were lucky, as even as the show started people were still filing in, some not getting to their seats until well into the show.
So what of Wrestlemania itself? As a spectacle, it was wonderful (and weirdly despite being 7 hours long, it didn’t drag). However there was some strange decisions made, and the main event was the only match that I felt was really poor. I enjoyed the pre-show, the Intercontinental Title match and the Women’s match. The battle royale was fun, AJ & Jericho was a masterclass, and Shane vs. The Undertaker was a stuntfest. The rest was middling to poor though. Overall it wasn’t a dreadful Wrestlemania, and there was enough “Spectacle” to make it feel special.
The next day was the final day, and we arranged to meet a few people from the BBQ for drinks and this is when I really began to appreciate the trip, after having a few drinks, we headed to a memorable Monday Night Raw in the American Airlines centre. This show, which usually drags (as it’s another three hours) seem to fly by, with genuine shocks, returns and a rabid crowd, made this probably the second best show of the weekend.
All in all, 3 very different shows, but why you should attend Wrestlemania weekend if you’re a fan? You meet fans from all over the world. You can actually have conversations about a crazy sport and not bore people to death. Now I can count friends from all over the globe as fans of a crazy “sport”, from Americans who offered me couches, to Aussies who were super nice, and Irish people who came up with the best Roman Reigns chant I’ve ever heard. And that makes me so happy. In short, to borrow a chant, the people who went to Dallas, were awesome.
- The single most frustrating thing about the weekend was the hotel. The WiFi was paid for which sucked immensely. If you have a large international contingent, WWE, please wrangle free WiFi.