Thanks to reader J.S. from Brooklyn for the report:
First & foremost, no matter what the IWC wants everybody to believe and no matter how the reactions come off on television, Cena is immensely popular beyond the typical children and female demographics. It may seem strange to suggest that, considering the crowd always seems to be audibly against Cena, particularly through most of the main event and every time his video package aired on the big screens. But if you saw the crowds in the parking lot tailgating before the event, in any particular section, the most-frequently spotted t-shirts and hats were for Cena. Same for crowds in the stairwells, up in the nosebleeds, and at the concession stands. With the exception of CM Punk, it wasn’t even close – I easily spotted Cena shirts outnumbering various Rock shirts by a 3:1 margin, and THAT may be conservative!
Most surprisingly, I’m not talking about kids or females, or even the “Cena Sucks” shirts. I’m talking prime demo (18-34) males and full-grown adults. Shirts of every color – the yellow and navy ones out now. The green “U Can’t See Me” shirt. The black Rise Above Hate shirts. The purple shirts. It was so mind-boggling, there were a few people walking to the show that speculated that Cena might actually get a strong positive reaction, especially since NY crowds love to be different and go against the grain (more on that in a bit). And after the show, when you got past the line around the block to get into the WWE Merchandise Store, Cena’s items were the only ones flying off the shelves with many sold out Cena items (although in that case, that probably because of how many kids and parents were in line vs. hardcore fans who were fleeing for the parking lot).
Based on the Cena reactions during the show and the ridiculous amount of Cena paraphernalia, it almost makes you wonder if people boo Cena for the sake of booing him, even if they like him! Whether it’s concern that supporting the guy on the t-shirt they paid $30+ for in front of rabid, legit anti-Cena fans may take away from their enjoyment of the show, they don’t want to be grouped in with what the children like, or they just fall in line with the pack mentality, it seems the pro-Cena fanbase don’t want their voices heard. But if you hate him, it begs the question: why buy the merchandise? They have specific t-shirts for those who hate his guts!
Other comments about the show & crowd:
Pretty much everyone was stunned that there was no G-d Bless America, considering how patriotic Vince likes to be. Not sure if Lillian wasn’t prepared to perform or they couldn’t find a local singer, but this seemed unexpected, and many people can be heard grumbling that this was disrespectful.
Crowd was particularly pissed there was no opening show pyro (although we later saw that WWE would make up for it during various entrances later in the night, including firework displays).
Michael Cole got booed. Crowd went insane for Lawler. JBL got a loud, very positive response.
Audience groaned at the very first appearance of Twitter trends on the screens.
Only about half the crowd was seated for the pre-show and YouTube I-C title match with Miz getting a pretty mixed reaction and almost everybody booing Barrett. The crowd cheered loudly for Miz’ win, probably because they got to see a title change live.
For the six-man tag, Sheamus got mostly boos. Orton was booed on an almost-Cena level. Big Show was met with both boos and indifference. The Shield got a nice reaction (which pretty much set the tone for the cliched “boo the good guys; cheer the bad guys” attitude from the attendees). Crowd did get into the mounted 10-count punches, Show’s “SHHHHHH…chop” spot and particularly the Sheamus chest pounding over the ropes. Biggest reaction was for Seth Rollins’ dive through the ropes into the outside barrier. Some “oohs” when Show knocked out his teammates after the match, but nobody was really shocked that Show had his umpteenth turn of his wrestling career.
Henry got a nice reaction; Ryback’s reaction was mixed. It should be noted that while there were the expected “Goldberg” mocking chants, the crowd really gets into the “Feed Me More” chants. Almost everybody got fooled by the abrupt end to the match and Ryback’s apparent injury, particularly when the ref held up the “X” sign. Everyone thought it was a botch and that Ryback hurt himself again, but he seemed fine on the post-match shellshock (which got the crowd on Ryback’s side).
Everybody hates P. Diddy. Men. Women. Children. White people. Black people. Hispanic people. Security guards. The most popular part of his performance were the lines to the bathroom. People just wanted the segment to end.
As expected, crowd went nuts for Daniel Bryan and to a lesser-extent, Dolph Ziggler. And Kane and Big E benefited as the crowd stayed into their participation in the match. Many thought the AJ-Dolph kiss was going to be a callback to last year and mean redemption for Bryan, so Dolph’s kickout was a surprise and set the tone nicely. Short match, but it honestly didn’t seem that way because of the pacing. After Ziggler ate the pin, all you could hear throughout various conversations was “Dolph is definitely cashing in tonight.”
Fandango got a lot of boos but it wasn’t indifference; his heat is authentic. Crowd was pretty much all behind Jericho, and he probably ranks in the top 5 in terms of crowd reactions at this year’s Mania. Lots of surprise and disappointment from the crowd after the clean ending.
Despite what WWE was going for in the World title match (capitalize on the huge Hispanic fanbase in NYC), nobody really seemed into Del Rio at all although they loved Ricardo’s intro for Del Rio. And Swagger & Colter got pretty much no reaction at all, particularly during Colter’s ranting promo. Not sure if the crowd hated or enjoyed the match – they were all focused on what point Ziggler’s music would hit and he would cash in the MITB briefcase. After Del Rio won (which did get a decent amount of cheers), the buzz was strong waiting for Swagger to jump Del Rio post-match, or Ziggler to just take advantage of Del Rio’s weakened state. When the screens went black so they could set up for Punk-Taker, the crowd booed mercilessly and seemed completely frustrated.
No surprises in the Punk-Taker match that didn’t come across on TV. The crowd was into everything. Punk got easily the hugest ovation of the night, and yes, that includes The Rock. Taker’s entrance was met with sheer awe and respect. During the match, this was the very definition of a 50-50 crowd. No booing at all – just straight up “UN-DER-TAKER”…”C…M…PUNK” chants. Crowd loved the near-fall sequences and everybody thought the single tombstone after the GTS ended it. After Taker won, even the Punk fans were on their feet and when the screen showed “21-0”, they went nuts.
Not sure how Lesnar-HHH came across on TV, but the crowd was completely dead for just about everything until the table spot mid-match. HBK got a good reaction coming out first, but neither Brock nor Lesnar got much of a response (although no considerable boos). The older fans were loudly screaming for blood every time each took a shot to the head and booed when the PPV feed showed their foreheads looked clean. HBK’s interference was well received, particularly when he stopped Heyman from interfering. Many were relieved that Brock didn’t tap, and almost seemed frustrated that he didn’t get his arm out of HHH’s reach every time he broke out of the move. HHH’s win pretty much deflated the crowd, particularly for the lack of blood but also because the retirement stipulation pretty much made the outcome a no-brainer.
Based on how much time was left, it wasn’t a surprise the 8-person tag match was cut and there wasn’t any sort of announcement for the live crowd. They didn’t seem to care.
For the HOF segment, Foley got the loudest reaction followed by Backlund and Bruno. Booker & Trish got modest applause. The crowd all despised Trump.
Crowd seemed shocked by Cena’s sudden entrance immediately following the HOF segment. No video packages, no arena darkening. They just jumped right to it because of the time constraints. His entrance was pretty mixed with a decent amount of cheers. But those in the nosebleeds were pretty heavily anti-Cena with the exception of a few clusters of what looked like frat guys wearing Cena gear (not sure if they were fans, or just trying to be ironic). Rock got a big reaction, but not like Punk or Taker. It was more comparable to what Bryan or Jericho received. NOWHERE CLOSE to what Rock got last year, or what Austin got during his heyday.
During the actual main event, the crowd was not as down-the-middle as you’d expect. Definitely pro-Rock, but probably around 60-40 in his favor vs. the 90-10 that was in Miami last year. But for the most part, the crowd was dead during the match, unless the camera zoomed in on Cena, or he postured for the five-knuckle shuffle or even the criss-cross before his attempt at The People’s Elbow. Then the booing was off the charts. During Rock’s offense, the crowd was just not that into it (although he wasn’t really booed). And I’m not sure how it came across on PPV, but up high, there were definitely loud “Austin’s Better” and “We Want Austin” chants as that match wore on. When it was over, the crowd crapped all over Rock & Cena’s attempt to recreate the Hogan/Warrior “pass the torch” moment from WM6 or the Hogan/Rock post-match at WM18, which anybody who wasn’t in “Cena is definitely turning” mode knew was coming a mile away.
Only thing that needs to be said about the crowd: I think NYC takes their perceived status as “smartest wrestling fanbase” way too seriously, and that’s coming from a native New Yorker who grew up watching this stuff. While a show like WrestleMania XX at MSG set the standard for going against the grain in terms of reaction you wouldn’t get anywhere else, it almost seems like the crowd felt compelled to be “smarks” instead of fans. They seemed far more interested in doing the opposite of what Vince wants you to, and spending time falsely-predicting what’s going to happen next instead of trying to enjoy the actual show. And being “super smarts” really doesn’t mean much if you’re just going to behave a certain way for entrances and finishes and stay mostly quiet or come up with so-called “clever” chants to amuse yourself during the show. I expected an insanely hot crowd at the show, and with a few exceptions, it just seemed like I was in the world’s biggest message board website with 80K other people.
Thanks to reader Marc Elusive for the report:
Here is my quick look at last night’s show…
Odd that there was no National Anthem
The Miz winning the title was surprising but no one cared. They’ve killed those secondary titles.
Crowd was happy the Shield won bit a bit disappointed the Orton heel turn did not happen.
Mark Henry/Ryback was boring live and the crowd noted it. The ending was weird and not sure what happened actually.
The tag title match was entertaining but really short. Bryan and Ziggler were mega over.
Jericho/Fandango was okay but my friends an I like Fandango so we were into it. The ending was really weak and Jericho kicking out of his top-rope legdrop finisher killed him with the crowd.
Lots if bathroom breaks for Diddy.
The ADR/Swagger match was dead, partly because everyone was returning from bathroom breaks and this matches’ position on the card surprised everyone.
Taker/Punk was the match of the night. The crowd was split 50/50. Punk’s mimicking the Old School was probably the biggest reaction along with him kicking out if the first Tombstone. Punk wearing purple and gray was also a nice mind game moment, wearing Taker’s colors. Good match but nothing spectacular.
HHH/Lesnar okay match but was expecting much more. It did not translate well to the large crowd.
Cena/Rock BOTH guys were booed. Probably because Rock is a part timer and they just didn’t like Cena. The match was boring and crowd was tired and cold at this point. Everyone in the building knew Cena was winning so they were not happy throughout the match. They’d wrestled last year so the newness of it was gone too and that hurt it as well.
All in all the show was fun to go and see the spectacle and size. It’s my second Mania but WM X was not on the scale production wise as this one. The one thing we took from it was that it felt just like another PPV. The stars were out but other than that it was just average. No WrestleMania moment that we will remember forever.