City Beautiful was the welcome mat for sports entertainment as World Wrestling Entertainment invaded the Theme Park Capital of the World for the Ultimate Thrill Ride, WrestleMania 33.
The glitz and glamor of WrestleMania is more than the WWE Superstars performing in front of thousands of fans in a packed stadium. Sometimes, it is about giving back to the community in the days leading up the grandest stage of them all.
A slew of community events highlighted WrestleMania Week including a Be a STAR anti-bullying rally at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida: Universal Orlando Foundation Branch and a reading celebration at Prairie Lake Elementary School, the winner of this year’s WrestleMania Reading Challenge.
WWE Superstars such as Darren Young, Zack Ryder and Sin Cara made appearances at these events to discuss topics like how to prevent bullying and the importance of reading. They all did a good job.
As one-half of the former SmackDown Tag Team Champions American Alpha, Jason Jordan felt honored to give back specifically to the city of Orlando.
“This is where Chad [Gable] and I came up together and where we first met at the Performance Center in Orlando,” Jordan said. “We sort of have a home here that is a little close to our hearts.”
The WWE Performance Center develops talent like Gable and Jordan. They formed the American Alpha tag team there, and they won the NXT tag team titles, leading to their move to the main roster.
Tye Dillinger, another alum of the Performance Center and NXT, also appreciates the Orlando community.
“What I’m excited about ‘WrestleMania 33’ is the fact that everything is on home turf,” Dillinger said. “Orlando is our second home. They have been with NXT since day one, and we are finally able to give them not only the biggest Takeover in the history of NXT, but also the biggest event of all time: WrestleMania. We are able to give back everything to the city of Orlando over the course of the week. For me personally, that is the most exciting thing we can do for them.”
As a former WWE women’s champion and current star of E!’s reality show “Total Divas,” Natalya feels that being a WWE Superstar is more than just performing in front of thousands of people inside in the squared circle.
“We only perform a little bit of our time inside the ring, like 15 minutes per match,” Natalya said. “We spend so much time out of the ring to try to lead by example. We have a great responsibility in WWE because we are a global juggernaut. We are in over 175 countries, and we have this incredible reach. We have a responsibility to spread positive messages and be good role models.”
With her NXT Women’s Championship match against the Empress of Tomorrow Asuka at NXT Takeover Orlando, which was in a matter of days, NXT Superstar Ember Moon was enthusiastic about partaking in some of the WrestleMania festivities before that grand NXT event.
“I never thought in a million years -- when I first started and stepped into a ring -- that I would be doing things like the WrestleMania Reading Challenge and going out to community centers and doing so much fun stuff to inspire others,” Moon said, “and that’s what this is.”
Becoming a role model in WWE is important to Moon because she grew up looking up to WWE Superstars.
“I saw so many people fighting for what they believe in and so many people who stood up for the right cause,” Mood said. “To be able to give back, to be able to be put in that position and given the opportunity to be a role model for these kids as someone positive they can look up to is a dream come true for me.”
WWE WrestleMania Reading Challenge
WWE Superstar Tye Dillinger, NXT Superstar Ember Moon, WWE Interviewer Dasha Fuentes, and WWE Superstars Zack Ryder and Darren Young read to students at Prairie Lake Elementary School, the winner of this year’s WrestleMania Reading Challenge.
WWE WrestleMania Be a STAR Rally
WWE Superstars American Alpha (Jason Jordan and Chad Gable), Sin Cara, Darren Young and Natalya along with WWE Ambassador Dana Warrior participated in a WWE Be a STAR anti-bullying rally, hosted by WWE and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida: Universal Orlando Foundation Branch. WWE Broadcaster Greg Hamilton was the emcee.
WWE in the (Orlando) Community
WWE hosted many activities designed to give back to the local community during WrestleMania Week Orlando like that ‘Be a STAR’ anti-bullying rally and reading challenge, along with hospital visits, a Special Olympics Unified basketball game, Englewood Neighborhood Center event, a Veterans employment panel, DDP Yoga for Susan G. Komen awareness, and John Cena Make-A-Wish party.
WWE conducted more than 20 events during WrestleMania Week. That is the most in WWE’s WrestleMania history. Because of WrestleMania, WWE also held more community-related events in the host area throughout the year, leading to the busy week.
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