WrestleMania XXVI has come and gone, and the biggest show of the year left an indelible mark on professional wrestling once again. Coming in with one of the strongest cards for a WrestleMania in recent memory, I was more than excited to be attending the event in person at the University of Phoenix Stadium.
All that said, I'd like to share with you a few of the notable happenings in and out of the ring that may not have been picked up by the watching eyes in the WWE production truck. Here now are some news and notes from inside the arena:
- University of Phoenix Stadium was set to open the doors to the public at 3:00 p.m. Sunday, just 30 minutes before the dark match began. But the Valley of the Sun got a lot of heat in the early afternoon, prompting executives to begin letting folks in as early as 1:30 p.m.
- As fans entered the stadium, several hundred signs were confiscated upon examination. One such sign actually made it to air, but was quickly removed. It read: "Hunter fears Divorce."
- The retractable roof for the venue was reportedly going to stay open for the entire event. It did not. The roof opened midway through the 26-man Battle Royal Dark Match and closed later during the Money in the Bank Ladder Match. It reopened later in the evening once the sun had finally set. One look at the glare cast in on nearly eight sections of fans within the stadium may have been the hint as to why the dome was closed in the first place.
- While WrestleMania did have an incredible lineup and great matches, it also had a fair share of botches along the way. The first occurred at nearly 2:45 p.m., when an air cannon set to be used along the entrance ramp (presumably for Edge's entrance) burst, hissing throughout the building for nearly four minutes.
- As the announcers made their way to ringside, Michael Cole was greeted almost entirely with boos while Matt Striker was greeted with total indifference. Fans heavily cheered Jerry "the King" Lawler.
- The Big Show was greeted with more cheers than expected, mostly drowning out the boos for The Miz.
- Cody Rhodes was legitimately shaken up and possibly injured after the Triple Threat Match with Randy Orton and Ted DiBiase. Rhodes was unable to bring himself back to his feet following the contest, and several referees and officials sprinted to the ring to help him back to the locker room. Even when on his feet, Rhodes seemed unaware of his surroundings or situation.
- Kofi Kingston's pyro malfunctioned, firing only one round instead of the usual three during his thunder claps. As a result, MVP, the next man to come onto the stage, had no pyro whatsoever.
- Jack Swagger winning Money in the Bank received absolutely no crowd reaction. Fans weren't quite sure what to make of it.
- Rey Mysterio's planned entrance was indeed botched, as Mysterio failed to launch himself through the hole in the stage and elected to crawl out nearly 45 seconds later. Several attendants were seen ducking underneath the stage to try and repair the device before a final decision was made. For what its worth, the Undertaker's slow rising entrance from the same hole in the stage may have had something to do with the failure.
- The crowd didn't react to anything during the Vince McMahon/Bret Hart match except the Sharpshooter and Tyson Kidd's aerial assault on McMahon. Most fans panned the contest, but did not leave their seats in fear of missing the climax. Universally, fans believed the contest went on far too long and was completely uninteresting.
- Chris Jericho also received a rather positive reaction from the crowd, despite his heel status. The first five minutes of his match with Edge left the crowd quiet, but it picked up nicely soon after.
- The Divas match was not only the worst contest of the night, but also the easiest excuse for thousands of fans to leave their seats and head to the restrooms or concession stands.
- The Batista/John Cena match featured over 70,000 screaming fans that were less 50/50 on the stars than they were 25/25/25/25. Allow me to explain. It seemed as though fans cheering Cena didn't exactly hate Batista, nor did fans cheering Batista exactly hate Cena. And for the fans that hated either one of these wrestlers, they weren't exactly cheering for the opponent. In short, despite the "shades of grey" response elicited by the superstars, fans showed no shades of grey when using their voices.
- The Undertaker/Shawn Michaels match, on the other hand, was as 50/50 as it gets.
- The merchandise booths were not loaded with superstar exclusive merchandise, instead focusing on WrestleMania XXVI logo attire. Likewise, the logo merchandise sold better than any other piece in stock, save for John Cena's orange "Never Give Up" shirt and accoutrement.
- Regardless of what was happening in the ring, the chant of the night was the Ric Flair, "Woo!" Fans for the most part could not get on the same page for a singular chant.
2. John Cena
3. Rey Mysterio
4. Shawn Michaels
5. Triple H
1. Vince McMahon
2. Vickie Guerrero
4. C.M. Punk