say the “Road to WrestleMania” begins with the Royal Rumble. Others,
the night after, on RAW. For the California Bay Area, the Road to
WrestleMania started on Friday, November 14, 2014, when WWE rolled into
Santa Clara’s brand-new Levi’s Stadium for the WrestleMania On-Sale
Party. Danielle and I attended the event, took some pictures, met some
of the stars, and partied the night away.
we learned that WrestleMania was coming our way, Matt just snapped his
head my way and said, “We’re gonna find a way. There’s got to be a way.”
I had agreed with him — at least in spirit. We live about 15 minutes
from Levi’s Stadium, in the southern portion of San Jose, California.
The problem was financing and where our seats would end up. Initially,
we looked toward maxing out our credit cards…but, ultimately, we
decided that this couldn’t be the way to go.
event was on StubHub for months, taunting us with ambiguous “floor
seats” and promises of first row grandeur. I had resisted the urge to
buy anything the site had advertised and waited for WWE to release an
official ticket package. We were hoping, by then, we’d happen upon some
funding. Then, it happened: Danielle was on the verge of closing a huge
sale — one that would not only get us through the holidays and some of
next year, it would also give us the opportunity to go to the event. It
wasn’t until October when WWE began advertising their WrestleMania
travel packages. Unfortunately, Danielle’s sale was delayed due to
unforeseen complications. Initially, we were going to go big with a
ringside seat deal, which included Axxess, the Hall of Fame and tickets
to next night’s RAW…but our hopes were dashed as her sale was delayed
into the first week of November.
sale was delayed and that really put a lot of stress on our everyday
lives. There were times when both of us were ready to call it a day and
give up on the prospect of it going through. Then, lo and behold,
everything clicked and the sale was finalized. Two days later, I had gotten
part of the money. Since the whole deal was out of another state, we had
to wait about two weeks to get the full amount in our accounts. I had
done work to make sure that, when the money had arrived, I had
everything siphoned toward the necessary priorities. As WrestleMania’s
tickets were going on sale in about a week, it had quickly stepped up
the ladder as something we needed to afford. The Travel Packages had
gone dry. I started searching the 3rd Party ticket re-sellers as I had
told Matt that this was, most likely, not going to happen here again for
another few years at the very least. “Let’s do it up big,” I had told
him. He was unsure. The two of us both wanted to do this but we also had
a budget to keep.
has a knack for nicknames. Our goofy apartment agent’s name was
Chiquita. No shit. I’m not kidding here. Fucking “Chiquita”. Danielle
thought she was sorta phony and slightly condescending. So, in her
typical style, she dubbed her “Banana Bitch”. We had missed the WWE
Travel Package thingee and Danielle had found a third party deal which
included towncar service to Levi’s, ringside seats and a VIP Party to
boot. The whole thing was pretty expensive but not wildly unheard of as
far as WrestleMania was concerned. Since there were several of those
tickets left, I told Danielle that I would hit up TicketMaster’s
pre-sale first. After a full day of waiting for TicketMaster’s system to
work as it should (it wouldn’t allow us to simply choose the fucking section we wanted, regardless of price),
we decided to cut our losses and go for our 3rd Party Tickets. Danielle
wasn’t happy with the process and had dubbed the thing “TicketBastard”.
Needless to say, her and I will be at ringside for the event. Our
tickets will also have other badass undisclosed perks. We don’t have the
itinerary yet nor will we have the tickets until about a week prior to
the event — but Danielle and I are going to be at WrestleMania. The
other thing that had been sent my way was a little event at Levi’s
Stadium called, “The WrestleMania On-Sale Party”. Apparently, if you
hadn’t gotten your tickets yet, this party would have them on tap.
Having had our tickets, we went for the benefit of meeting some of our
favorite WWE superstars. Hulk Hogan, Jimmy Hart, Daniel Bryan, Booker T,
Rosa Mendes, Tyler Reks, Charlotte Flair, and Wade Barrett were all
advertised to be there.
had found us free tickets to this event several days before. After WWE sent us our
confirmation, we were notified of a change: the event was still free to
the public — but WWE was now selling VIP tickets for this event as well. Being a VIP
included a much more intimate Meet and Greet with photo ops, food and
three alcoholic beverages. All this could be yours to the tune of $175 a
head. When Matt initially tossed the idea my way, I balked. We already had
our WrestleMania tickets and we had spent a little more on them than
planned. However, we ended up having a little extra money this week when
a bill came out a lot lower than we expected. Thus, we decided to
invest in the VIP experience and I am so glad we did.
Wrestlemania On-Sale Party produced some of my favorite wrestling
moments since I began watching it as a young girl. The VIP portion
allowed us to park in the VIP Red Lot which was moot for Matt who was
arriving on foot after taking our local VTA Lightrail to work and then
to the stadium, but wonderful for me.
totally missed the ridiculously well-labeled and lit up VIP lot (Matt
will tell you my ability to get lost or miss landmarks while driving is
legendary), I got to see the impossibly long line of people waiting with
general admission tickets as I drove around to take a U-turn back to
the right lot. Despite this, I had a fast entrance through the VIP
check-in at Gate B.
VIP check-in, I was given an autographed photo of Hulk Hogan, a VIP
wrist band to get into the party we paid or and three drink tickets(!).
Thanks to Matt reading up about the stadium rules in advance, I knew
just what we needed to get in easy – a clear NFL-approved tote (as the
event was subject to NFL rules). While others whined as they were told
to put back their unapproved over-sized non clear totes and backpacks, I
easily got through the line and made my way to Intel Gate A — which
made wrestling fans feel at home.
was not facing the crowd, so I snapped only a few photos and went to
the VIP area upstairs. The two “official”-looking guys told me I was at
the right spot.
there, I couldn’t believe my eyes: Hulk Hogan and Jimmy Hart were
posing for photos and, upon hearing that they’d only be around for the
next 15 minutes, I hopped in line to get a photo with the two of them.
All the while, feeling sorry for Matt who got stuck at work due to a
network emergency and a train that was later than usual.
HOGAN: I like your shirt!
HOGAN: He’s right over there, you know…did you get a photo with him yet?
ME: Oh, I will! I wanted to get a photo with you first because you’re legendary and old school.
HOGAN (smiles and nods): That’s a good answer!
my photo was taken, Jimmy Hart, in characteristic fashion, said “Thank
you, baby! Enjoy the rest of your night!” and I was off to schmooze with
the other superstars in the room. Daniel Bryan, Booker T and Bad News
Barrett were a bit busy, giving interviews to the local press.
the three, I managed to grab a quick photo with Barrett. He’s very tall
— taller than he looks on TV — and, as I’m petite, the photo was
hysterical. Had he not been doing a series of interviews, I would have
asked him to tell Matt (who was still on his way to the event at this
point), that he had bad news for him. However, due to the time crunch I
was lucky to just get the photo.
waited for the other two (Booker T and Daniel Bryan) but the press
hogged most of their time and I couldn’t get to them. A few VIPs
remarked that it was weird that they had the press and the VIP room
combined. Having worked as a photojournalist for a few newspapers many
years ago, I agree. I cannot remember anything like that happening to me
when I covered sporting events. I guess it’s because these are athletes
who have not been to the Bay Area before, and the event is rare (and
huge), so that’s most likely why.
Missed. All of this. I got caught up at work on a high priority case
and couldn’t escape. THEN, the printer that I wanted to use to print up
my VIP ticket wasn’t taking any jobs. It was a brain fart on my part: I
should have done it sooner. I’m usually more organized. I didn’t get to
the Cisco Way Lightrail station until about 5:30 and had to transfer to
the Mountain View train at the Tasman station to get to Levi’s about
mid-way. All the while, Danielle was sending me the above pics and
telling me how awesome the whole even was. I DID get to see about five
minutes of Hulk Hogan and Jimmy Hart doing a spot on the stage next to
the Intel Gate A entrance, so it wasn’t a total loss but I was bummed I
had missed a photo op with them. I went to the VIP gate and made my way
into the Club section to have some dinner and drinks with Danielle.
haven’t even mentioned the food and alcohol yet. The three drink
tickets we were given entitled us to wine and beer and the selection was
nice. For my last glass, the bartender finished the bottle for me so it
was poured almost to the rim. Matt jokingly asked if I had flashed him
for that. I hadn’t but you never know what will happen at WWE events, I
guess. The food was buffet-style and featured some amazing little pulled
pork sandwiches and even cheese including Purple Moon which apparently
Safeway no longer carries much to my dismay.
finally arrived as I was enjoying my food sitting at the club area
overlooking the seats of the stadium. It’s easy to see there will be
many great seats for Wrestlemania XXXI.
VIP passes paid off here. We got to sit and eat in the Club section,
overlooking the lower deck and field. In case you’re curious, the
surface you’re seeing is a white tarp, not snow or ice. It’s not that cold
in California. In any case, the sandwiches were good. Salad was a bit
crappy but the antipasto platter ruled with aged salami, pepperoni,
pastrami, and various cheeses.
autograph line area was a zoo. The people running this event really
could have done better as I took several tries to find the right line
(and since he was signing only for the first 150 entrants and VIP ticket
holders, all of whom had gray paper bracelets on, it should have been
easier to find the right line.
any case, as we got closer to the line, the WWE official asked what we
wanted him to sign (one item only). I asked if Bryan would sign my
Respect the Beard shirt. She cringed and said that he might but that she
didn’t know. When we got there, Bryan was very warm. He shook our hands
and said it was nice to meet us both. He asked if there was something
we wanted signed. I hesitantly asked if he’d sign my shirt and, without
so much as a hint of hesitation, he cheerfully, and at once, agreed to
sign my shirt, doing it so fast Matt missed the photo moment. I guess
that’s just as well: another WWE official was barking at people and
telling them not to take photos. Well, they aren’t as fast with
their warnings as they think, Matt and I both snagged photos of him
course! They were all nice. Matt and I told Bryan to get well and that
WWE needed him. Bryan gave us a wide grin and said, “I’m trying!” Maybe
I’m all kinds of naive here, but I still think he may be AT WrestleMania
in some capacity. Maybe not wrestling, per se, but as a guest referee,
Matt took a photo of me doing the Yes, Yes, Yes chant and of the
signature. I’m planning on framing the shirt along with the photos Matt
took of me and the shirt and Daniel Bryan signing the paper. And I put
together a collage because I’m that sorta chick.
in all, it was an amazing magical night. I was reminded of this when I
started to complain about the way the autographs were given out. Matt
had pointed out that we were lucky and, compared to others, our
experience was probably better than most: he had seen a mother talking
to security at the VIP entrance who she felt that she had not gotten a
lot out of the experience and that her kid was upset because he wanted
to meet Hogan and Daniel Bryan and they had already left. It put things
can’t wait for WrestleMania. I’m very excited. It had been a hectic
week and a hectic month with the sale just sitting there like a giant
gorilla you couldn’t get to move, so it was also nice to sit in the Club
section of the new place (I haven’t been inside the stadium since it
was opened up this Summer) with Danielle, on a Friday night, and enjoy
tons of great food and wine and just relax.