The Best And Worst Of WWE WrestleMania XXVIII Live

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Pre-show notes:

– First and foremost I’d like to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ give a huge thank you to Bill Hanstock for filling in on the WWE Raw Open Discussion Thread and to Chris Trew for his excellent fill-in job for me on yesterday’s Best And Worst Of Raw. I’ve been in an airport for seemingly the last month and a half so I had to miss everything. Yes, it was spoiled for me before I got home. No, it won’t be as good when I get to write about it next week.

Comments are appreciated. I’ve gotten a lot of WHERE’S THE WRESTLEMANIA THING feedback, so let’s hear what you thought about the show below. Shares, Facebook likes, Pinterests (?) and Google Plussage are all appreciated.

– Thanks again to THESTINGER for helping me out with show images and gifs. Anything that wasn’t grabbed from TV was taken by me, or someone holding my camera.

– I am extremely tired!

Please click through and enjoy my take on the live experience of WWE Wrestlemania 28. It was … something.

Page 2

First of all, yes, they were selling those shirts at Axxess. I’m pretty sure they were only selling them at Axxess. Yes, finding out I could by one was the best thing that happened to me all weekend.

Well, one of the best.

Best: WWE Fan Axxess

At the risk of immediately making the biggest column of the year too personal (“Blargh, I’m a vegan! Blargh, I have a girlfriend!” et al.), regular readers may be aware of the two things that make me happiest in life:

1. Taking mark photos with sports mascots, because I had a really traumatizing introduction to “regret” during a Smurfs stage show at King’s Dominion when I was like six.

2a. Pro Wrestling

2b. Taking mark photos with pro wrestlers

It’s not the aspect of my wrestling random I’m most proud of, but if, I don’t know, Abyss is standing ten feet away from me I’m not gonna NOT say “hey Abyss, stand beside me while I make a fist at my camera”. It’s weird. I’m like George Costanza — when he stops thinking about sex, he becomes a beloved genius. If I liked math as much as I like pro wrestling I probably would’ve grown up to be the millionaire scientist who cured algebra.

Anyway, what I’m getting at is that WWE’s Fan Axxess event was right up my alley and allowed me to pose for pictures with all sorts of people you might barely care about (Layla! Johnny Curtis!). To make it even better, I put my Wrestling Hipster thing into overdrive by going to Axxess on Saturday night during the Hall Of Fame induction ceremony, meaning all the main-event level guys were off wearing tuxedos and I was left to mingle with the lower-level guys I love, like Drew McIntyre and Sin Cara.

If you get a chance to go to a Mania, go to Axxess, too. Even if you don’t want to stand next to Hornswoggle for 5-second meet-and-pose you can look at Bret Hart’s jacket and touch Mr. McMahon’s exploded limousine tomb.

Worst: No Funkasaurus As Advertised

When I explained my plan to go to Axxess during the Hall Of Fame, the first guy I mentioned was always The Funkasaurus. Not only was Brodus Clay advertised, but Naomi and Cameron (the “Funkettes”), too. “Okay, we’ll stand in this line until we find out who’s signing next, and if it’s R-Truth or whoever we’ll run around and try to find the Funkasaurus.” I think I said that sentence more than I said “hello”.

As you may have gathered from the emboldened header, no, the Funkasaurus wasn’t there. He wasn’t at the afternoon event either, I was told. I thought maybe he’d missed a flight or had been deemed “suddenly too dangerous” again and taken off TV. At some point near the end of WrestleMania I figured out why. We’ll get to that later. Spoiler alert: IT IS SUPER RACIST.

Best: Me Destroying The Impersonation Contest

Best Announcer In WWE History Scott Stanford was in the “watch Antonio Cesaro wrestle even though you don’t know who he is” Axxess ring and asked for anyone who could do an impersonation of a WWE Superstar. My hand shot up.

“Who are you gonna do?”

“John Laurinaitis!”

“GET IN HERE.”

So I got in there. There were a few of us, and the guys around me were doing terrible impressions of Stone Cold, Triple H and The Rock because I guess I’m the only one who watches the shows every week and doesn’t pretend we’re still playing Smackdown: Shut Your Mouth. The production guy started playing duck quack noises because we were doing so terribly.

Then, it was my turn.

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I’m sad the video cuts out before the YES chants get going. Stanford described the impression best: “A little pitchy in parts, but he made it his own”. I was trying to do the “voice fading out before you can hear what he’s trying to say” thing and it ended up sounding like Peter Brady. Regardless, I won in a landslide and did a second, unsolicited Great Khali impression to celebrate. My prize was this amazing photo with Scott Stanford. If you look at the bottom right you can tell he put his leg up on my butt to hump me.

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Best: Derrick Bateman’s Autograph

He gave it a worst, but he’s wrong.

Best: An Awkward Chickbusters Thumbs Up

And in case you were wondering exactly why this was the Axxess to attend, please enjoy this picture of me doing my best patented Chickbusters-taking-pictures awkward thumbs up with AJ and Kaitlyn.

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There will be no more wrestling coverage on With Leather. This is the end. I have reached the mountaintop. Goodbye forever!

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Best: Finally, A Chance To Sit In One Of Those Empty Orange Florida Marlins Seats

As a longtime baseball fan I was excited to do something no-one else had had the opportunity to do before: visit both the old and new Florida Marlins baseball stadiums in a single day.

The first is the monolithic Marlins Park, the brand new Infinity Billion Dollars stadium that someone’s 10-year old daughter was put in charge of designing so it looks like a spaceship on the outside and a swimming pool on the inside. You can take a look at my pictures from the game in The With Leather Photo Tour Of Marlins Park. If you don’t follow baseball, oh god, go look at it. You’ll want to see the motorized metal fish machine that spins around like a hippie freakout when someone hits a home run.

The second is Sun Life Stadium, the artist formerly known as Joe Robbie, the home of the Miami Dolphins and former home of the Marlins. The greatest running joke about the Marlins is that nobody in Florida gives a sh*t about them, so they can win two championships in ten years and still have an annual attendance of four buckets of orange paint. Sitting in one of those empty, orange-ass seats was one of the weirder things on my bucket list.

My excitement wore off pretty quickly when I realized my WrestleMania viewing experience could be recreated at home by standing with my nose to a tree.

Worst: These Goddamn Palm Trees

See those four gigantic palm trees holding up the lights? That’s all I was able to see from section 138, one of the unfortunate sections built diagonally from WWE’s prop masterpiece. For a while I thought the bark part was gonna come down, because hey, at least if they were metal support columns they’d have holes in the middle and we could still kinda see.

Nope. I paid x-amount of a hundred dollars to watch WrestleMania on a big TV screen at WrestleMania.

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Best: Cena Kids

Kids are the best part of any wrestling show, and a great reason why companies who put too much emphasis on the “extreme” should remember to also at least throw in a guy who doesn’t tell everyone to suck his dick for these guys to cheer for. My Team Johnny shirt created a lot of heat between me and the kids I’d pass, including one in a friend’s section who badgered me so badly I promised to come back to his section, shake his hand and apologize if Team Johnny lost.

The kid directly to the left of Green Cena Kid was my favorite. When I stood up to cheer for Laurinaitis, he looked back at me, saw my shirt and engaged this conversation:

Him: “Boo! John Laurinaitis sucks!”

Me: “No he doesn’t, he’s gonna be the General Manager of Raw AND Smackdown!”

Him: “He sucks!”

Me: “His team’s gonna win this match!”

Him: “Nuh uh he sucks!” (continues doing double thumbs down at me)

Me: “Team Teddy is the one who sucks, have you seen who he picked for his team? Those guys are terrible! Team Johnny’s gonna win!”

Him: “He sucks!” (thumbs)

The great capper to the conversation is that when Miz got the win for Team Johnny, the first thing that kid did was look back at me with his eyes all welled up with tears. I remember how that feels. And I say “remember how that feels” like I didn’t spend 20 minutes with my head down and my back to the ring after Sheamus did his goddamn thing.

Best: People Taking Off Their Hats For America The Beautiful

ATTN: America

Re: This

You don’t have to do it. You shouldn’t do it for the Star-Spangled Banner either, because of how hilariously f**ked up its third verse is:

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore

That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion,

A home and a country, should leave us no more?

Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution.

No refuge could save the hireling and slave

From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:

And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave,

O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Yeah Francis Scott Key, f**k those hirelings. Anyway, what I’m saying is that if you take off your hat for America The Beautiful, you might as well be taking it off for Lee Greenwood, too.

Best: Seeing All The People Who’d Hoped They’d Get On Television But Didn’t, So They Had To Be Dressed Like Idiots All Night

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Nice job on your Ric Flair costume, guy! Now enjoy watching four hours of wrestling in public in your f**king bath robe.

Worst: This Is The Last Picture I Took For 25 Minutes

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Worst: 18 Seconds

You guys are lucky I spent the entirety of Monday sitting around in an airport, because when it happened, my paragraph about the Daniel Bryan and Sheamus World Heavyweight Championship match read something like this:

ARE YOU F**KING KIDDING ME, I’VE BEEN FOLLOWING THIS GUY FOR 12 F**KING YEARS, HE’S THE BEST WRESTLER IN THE WORLD AND HE KEEPS GETTING OVER NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO TO HIM, EVERYONE LOVES HIM AND HE’S GREAT AND YOU FARTJOB HIM OUT TO F**KING SHEAMUS BECAUSE OF YOUR GODDAMN BODYBUILDER FETISH AND YOU’RE SO OBSESSED WITH CREATING MOMENTS THAT YOU DON’T GIVE A SH*T ABOUT WRESTLING FANS AND F**K YOU, I JUST PAID LIKE 200 DOLLARS TO SIT AND STARE AT A F**KING PALM TREE SCULPTURE WHILE THE ONLY F**KING WRESTLER I HAVE A LEGITIMATE F**KING EMOTIONAL CONNECTION TO GETS KICKED ONCE AND I’M SUPPOSED TO BELIEVE THAT’S IT AND WORTH THE PRICE OF MY TICKET

I AM GOING TO PULL DOWN MY PANTS AND TAKE A SH*T IN MY HANDS AND F**KING THROW IT AT YOU SO HARD IT DECAPITATES YOU, WHOEVER DECIDED THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA

FROM NOW ON I’M ONLY WATCHING PWG TAPES AND F**KING CHONO MATCHES, YOU EAT SH*T AND DIE AND STOP PRETENDING TO BE A WRESTLING COMPANY, CHANGE WWE NETWORK’S NAME TO THE DRUG-ADDLED PEOPLE WHO COULDN’T FINISH HIGH SCHOOL AND THE FAUX-TANNED WHORES NETWORK, I’M F**KING DONE WITH YOU

That describes roughly the first … let’s say 20 minutes after that 18-seconds-in Brogue Kick went down. Thankfully, I was with friends and there were no bridges within walking distance from which to throw myself. It felt like the most indescribably large middle finger to me — to me personally — ever. I wanted to leave. I really did. I wanted to say f**k it, leave WrestleMania and drive back to my hotel room, where at least sleep wouldn’t disappoint me.

Also thankfully, time and a few deep breaths help put things into perspective.

Best: The Silver Lining Of Where That 18 Seconds Took Us

daniel-bryan-entire-matchThat gif is the entire match, in case you missed it.

The crowd at WrestleMania loved Daniel Bryan. We loved him before he showed up, and we loved him after he lost. That carried into Monday night, where the YES~ YES~ YES~ chants took on a life of their own, and Bryan was forced to be namechecked by guys like Cena and personally address the crowd.

It’s common knowledge, but as much as we like to believe they do, wins and losses don’t really matter in pro wrestling. The emotional connection I feel to Danielson when I see him wrestling doesn’t go away when something bad happens, and I’m stupid for letting myself get caught up in it and scream about it. He’s going to be fine. He’s the best wrestler in the world, and eventually every single person who pulled that “he’s a vaniller midget he’s boring dur-hur” thing over the last two years will be wearing his t-shirt. Punk was fine, Danielson will be fine. It’s fine.

It’s fine.

(I was really upset.)

Best: Randy Orton Vs. Kane Actually Ending And Being A Thing

At the time, Randy Orton versus Kane was the best wrestling match I’d ever seen while staring at a 90-foot tall palm tree.

I don’t remember a lot about it except being surprised Kane won (cleanly, even), then realizing how Kane had been treated like so much Viscera (in both definitions of that) since he’d returned as a “resurrected monster”, so yeah, unless they want to team him with Big Zeke and have them get Backedcracker on the reg they needed to have him beat some dudes of worth. Plus, this sets up a rematch at Extreme Rules and another month wherein Kane has a chance to logically explain any of his motivations ever.

The chokeslam off the ropes was cool, but I (and the entire crowd) was calling a Kane Flying Clothesline into an RKO. Orton matches these days are almost built exclusively around which signature move he’s gonna turn into an RKO, and that one made the most sense. When Kane came off the ropes and Orton dropkicked him, the crowd went HERE IT COMES OH YEAH BOOM WAIT NO WELL OKAY DROPKICK YEAHHH.

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Worst: This Crabnabbers Segment Is 40 Times Longer Than The Daniel Bryan Match

Between Daniel Bryan losing in less than twenty seconds and the follow-up segment involving Mick Foley and Santino wasting food with the guy from ‘Deadliest Catch’, this is shaping up to be the least vegan WrestleMania ever.

Best: Ron Simmons Should Change His Catchphrase

While I enjoy Simmons showing up at only the worst possible times to say “damn” (I think he should show up during a championship celebration or something and go “oh, okay, this is actually pretty good” at least once), I think he should change it to “dammit”. That would change the entire point of what he’s saying, and come a lot closer to mirroring how I feel every time a segment is bad enough to necessitate Ron Simmons showing up and ending it.

Secondary option, have Simmons show up in harmless segments (like those ones where CM Punk is backstage tying his shoes and the cameraman is zoomed in SUPER CLOSE because I guess before they got interrupted by Zack Ryder or whoever they were filming an instructional video), stand around for several seconds and scream DAMN only for Punk (or whoever) to ask him what his problem is. Maybe Simmons got shoved into the same electrical power supply that gave Goldust curse-Tourrets.

Best: The Attendance Record Would Be Even Better If You Didn’t Have To Tarp Off The Top Two Rows To Avoid Fire Injuries

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At WrestleMania 24 (the only other WrestleMania I’ve been to), John Legend sang America The Beautiful and Kim Kardashian gave me the attendance announcement. At WrestleMania 28, Lilian Garcia sang America The Beautiful and Lilian Garcia gave me the attendance announcement.

What, did MGK cost you so much money you couldn’t fly out Bella Thorne from Disney’s f**king ‘Wizards Of Miley Cyrus’ to read from a piece of paper? Maybe that explains Flo Rida’s “shoving Heath Slater” segment — he had to get Bella Thorne’s announcement money AND look better than all the people who’ll be here next week.

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