WrestleMania Fever took over New York and New Jersey this weekend, bringing big crowds of WWE fans to both the Big Apple and the Garden State.
While the celebrations kicked off a few days ago, the real deal was Sunday night, when the Super Bowl of professional wrestling returned to the MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. The open-air arena is normally home to the NFL’s New York Giants and New York Jets.
The packed roster for WrestleMania 35 included Superstars in high profile match-ups, like a winner-take-all main event between Ronda Rousey vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Becky Lynch, Brock Lesnar vs. Seth Rollins, Daniel Bryan vs. Kofi Kingston, AJ Styles vs. Randy Orton, The Miz vs. Shane McMahon, and women’s tag teams Sasha Banks and Bayley vs. Beth Phoenix and Natalya vs. Nia Jax and Tamina Snuka vs. The IIconics.
WrestleMania 35 was available on pay-per-view and streamed on the WWE Network, but TheWrap had a seat inside the MetLife press box. For those of you who stayed home, here’s what you didn’t see on TV.
Prepare for the Worst (Weather)
The WWE wasn’t going to let it rain on its biggest parade. With bad weather possible in an outdoor arena, the company covered the stage and ramp covered in black plastic until the very last minute. Ironically, Sunday was one of the nicest days of the year so far in the New York City region.
Fans didn’t seem to mind the spring-ness, but new WWE Universal Champion Seth Rollins was hoping for something a bit more inclement. He’ll probably take the belt and 60-degree weather, however.
Much like the NXT Takeover did to Brooklyn Friday, WWE fans took over New York and New Jersey’s transits systems on Sunday, with thousands flooding the trains from Penn State out to the Garden State. The mass of people decked out in replica championship belts was so large that a special bus service was put on from Secaucus station to Meadowlands, much to the relief of travelers just trying to get to Newark airport.
Exit Ramp Crowd vs. Entrance Ramp Crowd
The Women’s Battle Royal was heavily hyped before the female Superstars of “Raw,” “SmackDown Live” and NXT all jumped in the ring together. But as was the case for most of the pre-show matches, the stadium was still half-empty. Fans battled traffic while the women battled each other.
WrestleMania chairs are iconic collectors’ items for WWE fans, but there weren’t many butts in the those pricey seats during the first fights.
With a capacity of 82,550, MetLife Stadium was sold out for WrestleMania. Fans could still get a ticket on the secondary market — so long as they were willing to shell out around $500 on StubHub — and that was for an obstructed view seat, meaning that thousands of fans even inside still watched the show on TV screens.
Yeah, the setup maybe wasn’t ideal. But outdoor events need a giant canopy, and that means a giant support structure.
Colin Jost Is MetLife’s Biggest Heel
Colin Jost and Michael Che, the anchors of “Weekend Update” on “Saturday Night Live,” were booked as guest competitors in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, facing off against a packed ring of WWE’s top pros. Staten Island native Jost sparked the first boos of the night by strutting down the entrance ramp in a Cleveland Browns Odell Beckham Jr. jersey. That rubbed a number of New York Giants fans the wrong way: The Giants just lost Beckham in what many consider an ill-advised trade.
Here is a rundown of how Jost and Che fared.
Media Superstar or WWE Superstar?
A lot of current and former wrestlers, like Sgt. Slaughter, Paige and Kane, ate and generally existed alongside working reporters in the press box, which was used as overflow for WWE friends and family. Our catering is your catering, friends.
The coffee, however, was at a premium for a while there. We weren’t about to jockey for position with Glenn Jacobs around the caffeinated pot.
Blinded by the Light
While WWE was determined to up the wattage at MetLife with blazing gold and red lights throughout the stadium, the spectacle blinded some attendees, sparking an outcry on Twitter. One fan pleaded, “Please turn the lights off! #wecantsee #WrestleMania.”
Bayley Buddies Un-Friend Her
Half of those whacky inflatable Bayley Buddies didn’t get any air during their big moment, and they laid there about as limp as Bayley did while getting pinned in the Women’s Tag Team Championship Match. Speaking of which…
An (I)Inonic(s) Win
One of the biggest pops in the press box was for that IIconics win. It was one of the true surprises of the evening — a booking that rewards two over (the wrestling term for crowd-favorites) up-and-comers with excellent microphone skills. Congrats to Peyton Royce and Billie Kay!