The WrestleMania week kick-off press conference in New York at the Hard Rock Cafe, the last event before WWE parks in New Orleans for the week, was...interesting to attend live. While, by and large, it was pretty much what you'd expect from WWE with this type of thing, a couple moments stood out.
It quickly became clear that this was a much more sedate room than WWE usually plays to. Whether it was non-fan reporters not familiar with everyone, the reporters in general not knowing WWE wants you to react similarly to a wrestling crowd, or a combination of the two, it was the polar opposite of the reaction that the WWE Network announcement in Las Vegas got.
The lack of reaction appeared to fluster Batista, who proceeded to improvise a weird speech and comedy routine.
After explaining how he hated his scripted speech and declaring that the writer should be fired (unless it was Stephanie McMahon) he talked about how he felt bad for Daniel Bryan having to wear a suit he looked so goofy in and do his "YES!" shtick to such silence. Then, after another "awkward, uncomfortable silence," he started goofing off.
"So, anyway...I had a little time between movies...so I figured I'd come back and become WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Yaaaay!"
After some of the fans who won a contest to get in started booing, he decided to stage a one-act play about himself arguing with a fan. He played both parts, stepping away from the microphone to be the fan. It went like this:
Batista as fan: "YOU SUCK, BATISTA! YOU SUCK!"
Batista as himself: "NO, YOU SUCK, MAN!"
Batista as fan: "Boo-tista! Boo-tista!"
Batista as himself: "Don't boo me, punk! I will come out there and tear you apart!"
Batista as fan: "You look ridiculous in skinny jeans!"
Batista as himself: "I have one pair of skinny jeans and I'm gonna wear them every week just to piss you off!"
Unfortunately, he didn't bow at the end. He mentioned that his skinny jeans have a "Tweeter" account (and acknowledged he just showed his age) before settling into some standard WWE hype in the calm mode he's usually in at this kind of event.
The other performer who really stood out at the press conference was Daniel Bryan. When he was on stage, he came off like he was still soaking it all in. His constant state of wonder and amusement adds to his underdog and "regular guy" appeal.
He acquitted himself really well both onstage and dealing with media afterwards; he's not super-polished in the way John Cena is, but he's an incredible representative for the company and should be utilized as much as possible since he comes off so differently from the other top stars.
Bryan's reaction to his career reaching previously unthinkable highs was a common theme during the junket after the press conference.
"It's just been incredible, man," Bryan told Bleacher Report. "It's been surreal. It's one of those things that you just look back and you're thankful for the life you have."
While he was gleeful at being in this spot, he clearly wasn't enjoying having to wear a suit as part of the duties that come with that spot.
"I never imagined this. Wrestlers when I was a kid would wear fanny packs and Zubaz [pants] and all that kind of stuff, and here I am having to dress up in a suit and tie, and I feel like 'Gosh, this is incredibly uncomfortable.' I wish I was just here in a fanny pack and some Zubaz, that would be awesome."
Somehow, this actually ties into his wedding to fellow WWE star Brie Bella, which takes place just five days after WrestleMania. Not only will he still have his trademark beard, but he won't be seen in formal wear either.
"Brie is trying to get me to trim [the beard], mostly to impress her grandmother. I'm already wearing jeans at the wedding because I don't do well in these suit scenarios. I might trim it a little bit, she says I've got some...I think she calls them fly-aways...I don't know, I just let it grow."
First, though, he has WrestleMania to deal with. Not only is he (presumably) in the main event spot, he's in the main event spot with two matches, which is not only unprecedented, but it's also building a lot of anticipation thanks to his reputation for having great matches.
It is more pressure, but I tend not to think in terms of pressure. I tend to think in terms of going out there and enjoying myself. The key to all of this is to have fun with it because if you're going out there and you're stressed out about it, it's not gonna be what you wanted it to be. When you're sitting there wanting to be a wrestler, what you want is you want to go out there and you want to feel it, you want to experience it, all of the reaction.
Did he see any of this coming, though?
"If you would have ever asked me 'Are you gonna be wrestling two matches in front of 70,000 people?' I would have said 'Probably not.' And now I get a chance to do that. It's an opportunity to just go out there and feel something that most people never get to feel in their lives."