NEW ORLEANS -- WrestleMania XXX broke the Mercedes-Benz Superdome’s highest grossing entertainment event record thanks to the 75,167 members of the WWE Universe who packed the place in New Orleans. Fans attending on Sunday, April 6 and those watching for the first time on WWE Network and pay-per-view outlets witnessed Daniel Bryan realizing his dream.
In the second of two matches, Bryan overcame Batista and Randy Orton to take home the WWE World championship in a triple threat main event match. The leader of the “Yes Movement” overcame the odds and anything Triple H and Stephanie McMahon threw at him -- including a sledgehammer -- to give his supporters the happy ending they’ve been waiting for months.
There came a point toward the match’s conclusion where Bryan was being stretchered to the back, but he rolled himself off the stretcher (ala Mankind) and returned to eventually win with the Yes Lock submission on Batista. “Yes!” chants have become a global phenomenon inside and outside the realm of pro wrestling. This coupled with the popular performer’s ability and underdog status has led to Bryan’s resurgence.
In the first match on the WrestleMania XXX card, Bryan battled the “King of Kings,” who appeared “Game of Thrones” style on a throne. Triple H always has some of the most epic entrances at WrestleMania over the years and did not disappoint this year.
Triple H and Daniel Bryan may have had the biggest opening match in WrestleMania history. It took 20 years, but this battle beat Owen Hart versus Bret Hart at WrestleMania X for best opener in the grand event’s storied history. It had ring psychology, brawling and the addition of Stephanie McMahon standing ringside to support her COO husband. Bryan won the match, but the Authority figures berated him verbally and physically post-match as Triple H destroyed Bryan’s already injured arm/shoulder.
Even with a bum arm/shoulder, Bryan overcame the odds to later win the main event, succeeding in the crowd leaving the Superdome happy and gave reason to party on Bourbon Street, but fans also exited knowing they witnessed the end of an era.
Brock Lesnar with Paul Heyman by his side ended The Undertaker’s WrestleMania streak in the most shocking moment in WrestleMania history. It literally was like a funeral in the Superdome. When the 21-1 graphic appeared the screen and it became real, fans voiced their frustrations.
Nobody expected “The Beast” to do what so many legends tried. If the streak was ending, and it did, I hoped it would be a young superstar who could use it to build his career. Pass the torch. Lesnar, a former UFC and WWE champion, does not fit that category. It is what it is, but one question remains. Was this The Undertaker’s last match?
WrestleManiaXXX host Hulk Hogan transported thousands of fans to their childhood, kicking off the festivities. Then Stone Cold Steve Austin appeared, followed by Miami’s own The Rock. They blew people’s minds by standing in the same ring together. It was the biggest star of the 1980s with the most popular performers of the 1990s and into the new millennium. The cross-generational moment set the tone for the evening’s proceedings with the coolest beer bash in history.
John Cena said earlier in the evening during a WrestleMania XXX press conference that he felt he was in Big Show’s shoes tonight in helping an emerging superstar. Alluding to Cena’s big in-ring debut at the show 10 years ago at Madison Square Garden against the Big Show. I think he helped do that against Bray Wyatt. Even though he beat the unique performer, it wasn’t without being in a true back-and-forth encounter.
Mark Crozer performed live the Wyatt Family’s entrance music, while Bray led his family to the ring with the signature lantern. The entire fanbase in the New Orleans Saints stadium clapped along.
Antonio Cesaro took a one-way trip to the top by winning the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. In an amazing show of power, he picked up Miami’s own Big Show, a 7-foot-1, 450-pound favorite to win the 30-man match, and sent him over the top rope.
Cesaro has arrived.
Very cool to see former official Tim White in attendance for the trophy presentation, considering his long friendship with Andre the Giant.
The Shield (Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns) squashed Kane and the New Age Outlaws (Billy Gunn and Road Dogg).
AJ retained the WWE Diva's title in the Vickie Guerrero Invitational. Unfortunately for the divas, this match followed The Undertaker's surprise loss, so the attention from the crowd wasn't all there.
The pre-show featured Jimmy and Jey Uso outlasting three other teams to retain the WWE tag team titles. Los Matadores were eliminated first, but not before a great spot involving El Torito diving off the top rope onto the Matadores’ opponents. It came down to the Uso’s and the Real Americans with Zeb Colter.
The crowd was solidly behind “We the People,” but the duo couldn’t get it done. The post match led to Swagger and Cesaro coming to blows after weeks of dissention. These two are going to have some great wrestling matches in the future. However, it is the Swiss superstar who would have his WrestleMania moment later on the main show, winning the Andre battle royal. He has all the tools to Cesaro Swing his way to the top.
The night also had fun cameos by Dangerous Danny Davis, Ricky The Dragon Steamboat, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Sgt. Slaughter, Ron Simmons and Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase.
With Mean Gene Okerlund backstage for the interview, Hulk Hogan, Mr. T, Rowdy Roddy Piper and Paul Mr. Wonderful Orndorff revisited their main event at the inaugural WrestleMania. Piper buried the hatchet with Mr. T and thankfully didn’t thank his “momma.”
WWE's annual pop-culture extravaganza grossed a Mercedes-Benz Superdome record $10.9 million as a sold-out crowd of 75,167 from all 50 states and 37 countries converged on there in New Orleans. The previous gross revenue record for an entertainment event at the Superdome was the three-day Essence Festival in 2013 featuring Beyoncé.
WrestleMania 31 occurs on Sunday, March 29, 2015 from Levi’s Stadium, home of the San Francisco 49ers in Santa Clara, Calif.• Follow me on Twitter @smFISHMAN