The second it was announced that WrestleMania was returning to the Superdome in New Orleans, I knew I would be going.
It wasn't a surefire decision; there were many factors that needed to play itself out in order for me to be in NOLA right now, but at the time, there wasn't a doubt in my mind that I wouldn't be down here breaking my WrestleMania virginity.
The Superdome is the site of my favorite WrestleMania: WrestleMania XXX. It's not the greatest - to me X-Seven is the standard for what a Mania should be - but XXX had all of the intangibles: a ferocious crowd, intriguing feuds, an influx of past, present and future, and a captivating babyface the crowd could embrace. Oh, and the unthinkable happened. Top to bottom, XXX is the most entertaining WrestleMania in recent years.
XXX was billed as the true return of Hulk Hogan to the company after years with TNA. He was tabbed to "host" WrestleMania, which is hard to do when you don't even know where you're hosting the show. It's the SUPERDOME, Terry... not the Silverdome.
And then... the glass broke, and the stadium went into a frenzy. Stone Cold Steve Austin standing face to face with Hogan in the center of a WWE ring. It's something we as fans have wanted for decades: the two biggest stars in their respective companies in the late 90s finally meeting.
When you didn't think it could get any better, The Rock's familiar voice hit the loudspeakers and out came the Brahma Bull, who's wrestled both Austin and Hogan in legendary WrestleMania matches. Three of the four stars on WWE's Mount Rushmore together for the very first time gave me goosebumps. It was a WrestleMania moment that will endure for ages.
From B-plus player to World Champion
The story of Daniel Bryan in WWE is so genuine. We all know about Vince McMahon's obsession for big guys and how size may have derailed a few guys from reaching the top of the company. One look at Daniel and you could see an extremely talented worker - perhaps an Intercontinental Champion - but a world champion was out of the question.
The thing about Daniel Bryan is he has what so many other superstars lack - heart.
That beating heart was felt all throughout the Superdome that night as Daniel got through not just Triple H to open the show, but then defeating the other two members of Evolution, Batista and Randy Orton, to win the WWE Championship in the main event. The purity of Daniel Bryan is so easy to get behind. He's the most relatable everyman the WWE has had since Austin, only moreso. Everybody has been told in one way or another that they're not good enough, that they don't measure up to the competition, that they'll never achieve their dreams. They said the same thing about Daniel. He proved everyone wrong.
The end of the streak
There isn't one superstar more synonymous with WrestleMania than the Undertaker. Sure the event was built off the back of Hulk Hogan, Shawn Michaels is nicknamed "Mr. Wrestlemania", and Stone Cold, John Cena and Roman Reigns have all headlined the show at least three times. But the Deadman has what they don't.
For 21 consecutive appearances, the Undertaker walked down that long aisle to the ring, got the 1-2-3, and walked back victorious. The Streak became a sideplot to the big event; you didn't just watch WrestleMania for the spectacle, you watched to see who will finally put an end to The Streak.
And then, Brock Lesnar became the one in 21-1, dropping Taker with three F5's before earning the shocking pinfall win. Go back and watch the ref's 3 count and listen to the split second of stunned silence in the air while the crowd digested what they just saw. They couldn't believe that this unstoppable force was reduced to a mere mortal, and very dominantly I might add. We knew Taker didn't stand a chance against Brock in a normal match, but this is WrestleMania. The Deadman doesn't get defeated at his show, in his yard.
But all great things must come to an emphatic end. Fans complain about the streak ending, mainly the fact that it ended to a part-timer in Brock instead of a wrestler that could have benefitted from the rub, like CM Punk. But this couldn't have ended any other way. Brock ending The Streak will live on in WWE history.
As far as Taker goes, they call WrestleMania "the showcase of the immortals." There's no greater immortal to grace the WrestleMania stage than the Undertaker.