Let me preface this article by saying that I’ve only been to one other WrestleMania, WrestleMania XX from Madison Square Garden. For that show, people arrived at 5 PM for a show that started at 7:30 PM. That was obviously not the case this year.
I thought I knew what to expect walking into this show. I’ve been covering wrestling professionally for about 10 years and have been a fan for around 25. I’ve been to hundreds of different types of shows – from high school gyms to football stadiums but I don’t think I’ve ever had a worse experience at a show.
Let me first state that this had absolutely nothing to do with what was going on in the ring. I plan on watching the PPV replay to see the show again because it deem seem to be pretty good but you would have never have known that from the stadium. A week prior to the event, MetLife Stadium sent out an “Event Advisory” basically relating what times gates will open, where to park and what was allowed in the stadium. The first thing we noticed was that although they told us to park near the gates where our seats are, the parking attendants only opened parts of the entire lot at a time, siphoning cars into lots that were on the complete opposite side of where their gates were.
The other key part of the email MetLife sent out was that the lots would be open at 11:30 AM for tailgating. Now remember this is WWE‘s WrestleMania. A TV-PG production marketed towards 8-12 year olds. Not a Giants or Jets football game filled with 25-55 year old men. So yes, people were drinking since 11:30 in the morning for a show taking place a 7 PM. Kids were getting knocked around & elbowed in the face when these people would be forcing their way to the front of the line at the one merchandise stand that was setup outside of the stadium. You know that WrestleMania Superstore WWE’s been pushing for a week? It was open Wednesday, Thursday Friday and Saturday. Nope, not the day of the event. And God knows where all that merchandise actually went because every stand carried 4 types of shirts – John Cena, The Rock, Ryback & WrestleMania. But back to the drunks. Once inside the stadium, after 5 hours of heavy drinking, these people were able to walk right up the concession stands and buy two beers apiece, as many times as they wanted. No bracelet system or way to tell how much has been drunk. It became a problem. People sitting on the stairs, shouting profanities at kids cheering for John Cena and spilling beer on people as they get up and down from their seats. It probably wouldn’t have been too much of a problem if there was any security. Oh and did I mention that the stadium RAN OUT OF FOOD HALFWAY THROUGH THE SHOW!
As for the show experience itself, while we were a few of the people who couldn’t see one side of the ring or ring area, the main problem was the sound. The ring wasn’t mic’d. That means every person in the area had to stare at the ring 100% of the time in order to tell if anything happened at all. Plus, none of the high spots (or even the typical spots), had much of an impact because not only couldn’t we see much of what was happening but it was like watching the entire show on mute. Combine that with the lack of America The Beautiful or pyro at the beginning of the show and the audience had absolutely no real reason to get excited. But that doesn’t mean the crowd was “flat”, as I’ve read all morning. By all accounts, the live audience didn’t come through on PPV except for a few finishes and the Cena title change. The crowd was actually into the entire show. Everything and everyone was pretty over but it seems as if WWE shot themselves in the foot once again with having WrestleMania held in a stadium.
Overall, it was painfully obvious that MetLife Stadium was extremely ill-prepared for this show. They had 2 merchandise stands per level (only three levels that held 80,000 people). They ran out of food halfway through a 4 hour-long show. Began closing down concession stands at the CM Punk/Undertaker match. And at the end of the show, directed traffic from the lots through three exits onto the highway. WWE failed to stock anything relevant for the thousands of people who wanted to buy souvenirs. Didn’t prepare fireworks or pyro for the beginning of the show because “it was too light out” (even though by bell time the sun had completely passed behind the stadium). And provided absolutely no sound whatsoever to keep the audience interested in what was happening in the ring (for those who could see around a pillar).
WrestleMania 29 was a clusterf*ck, plain and simple. I will never attend another show/game at MetLife Stadium and doubt another WrestleMania as long as they are held in football stadiums.