Come one and come all, let the games begin!

Tonight, WrestleMania XXX gets underway from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, La. It is the culmination of the wrestling year, “The Showcase of the Immortals,” and within good reason is it just that. But moreover, it is a cultural phenomena.

Personally, this is my second WrestleMania, and second-consecutive at that. It was not an easy decision to make the trek from Connecticut all the way down to Louisiana. Nor was it a cheap one. But my worries about the paper coming out of my wallet were alleviated as I boarded my plane Saturday night, 24 hours from the big show.

As I fastened my seatbelt, I noticed four men of French dissent approaching my row of seats. There was a man in their way as they attempted to make their way down the crowded aisle of bodies and baggage. At that point, I heard one of them shout.

“Excuse me!”

Except it wasn’t like that. It was more of a high-pitch, monotonous…


It was at that point that it hit me. I wasn’t on the plane with rude French men. I wasn’t on the plane with people who were attempting to be obnoxious to get the slow-moving person in front of them out of the way. I was on the plane with wrestling fans.

I referred to WrestleMania earlier as phenomena, because that’s exactly what it is. Think about it: Here were four men from France traveling all the way to New Orleans, with a flight cost of well over $1,000. They get a layover in New Jersey, and will be paying for hotel, food, drinks and anything else that Bourbon St. has to offer.

Oh, and they’ll be watching people dance around in a ring for four hours while a goat face throws his fingers up in the air asking the crowd to chant something straight out of Shaving Ryan’s Privates.

And the most amazing part about it? They won’t even be the people who have traveled the furthest or paid the most money to attend the grandaddy of them all. It’s this weird paradox of people coming together from all over the world, to basque in this one event that was created 30 years ago in what would prove to be perhaps the greatest high-risk/high-reward undertaking in the history of modern entertainment. Frankly, my dear, even I don’t understand it.

Vince McMahon gets a lot of heat from people, and has for some time. But there is no doubting what WrestleMania has brought to the mainstream entertainment circuit. Stars from all walks of life ensure their faces are shown on WWE television during WrestleMania weekend, so much so that WWE had to even create its own celebrity “wing” of its Hall of Fame. Mr. T, an inductee of the Class of 2014, set that trend way back when at the first WrestleMania. And it’s one that has carried over since.

But to fully appreciated what WrestleMania has done for some people, perhaps it takes watching the Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Last night, I sat in our New Orleans quarters surrounded by members of the Wrestling Rumors staff alongside several other well-respected members of our “business.” The new inductees, including the likes of The Ultimate Warrior and Razor Ramon, graced the stage to salute the crowd and give their acceptance speeches that detailed their long, roller coaster careers. And then, Ramon, a man who was the most hated villain in the business but has come to the brink of death due to alcoholism among other major issues, said something that stuck with me.

“Hard work pays off, dreams come true. Bad times don’t last, but bad guys do.”

Fathom that. The guy who was nearly six feet under used his “fake” gimmick in revealing a life lesson. Wrestling, and more importantly, WrestleMania, had turned this man who would have been the Average Joe on the street into an icon of his industry.

It was also at that moment that I saw that I wasn’t sitting in a room of people that I work with, a room of people that I consider my colleagues. Instead, I was in a room with people that were my friends, and not just friends, but fans of the wrestling business.

It makes no sense, but at the same time, it makes all the sense in the world.

WrestleMania XXX will be broadcast out of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, one of the most iconic stadiums in sports and entertainment history. It seems fitting that such a venue will hold what will undoubtedly be a celebration of legends past, present and future. Millions of fans will tune in around the globe via several different outlets, with McMahon’s WWE Network on shine for the first time (here’s to the best of wishes that actually works out). It is the Super Bowl for the Superstars, and all eyes will be on New Orleans.

In the end, there will some who will go home happy and some who will not. Those French men will take the journey back home, and Razor Ramon will return to living a low-key lifestyle on his way to full recovery. But for one night, all of these entities will be brought together. And for one night, professional wrestling will dominate the headlines.

Because it’s WrestleMania. The biggest night of them all.

Follow Jon Alba on Twitter!


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