On a golden hued afternoon, World Wrestling Entertainment’s biggest event of the year took place. Starting off the events was the lovely and talented Lilian Garcia whose voice has been heard in the squared ring and in her own albums. Tonight, she has returned to lend her voice to the biggest event Sunlife Stadium has ever displayed. She takes the microphone and sings a wonderful rendition of “America the Beautiful”, but even with the silenced crowd, a thick air of anticipation can be felt in every corner of the arena. Garcia finishes beautifully, the arena bursts into cheering, and jets fly over the stadium leaving behind a thunderous boom. This is the perfect introduction to Wrestlemania 28.
Wrestlemania was an event that goes beyond being just a monthly pay per view event. The sheer size and production value that went into that clear first Sunday of April can only be compared to a political campaign. Months prior to the event, WWE has tried diligently to push the event as one of the grandest spectacles to ever occur in South Florida. In an arena that tries it’s best to fill seats for real sports, the “fake” sport of pro-wrestling was able to bring an astounding 78,000 plus attendance on a single night.
The production values were a dazzling display of colors, fireworks and sheer excitement. The crowd was treated to visuals that only sports entertainment could bring to such a large turnout. In one of the most emotional entrances, the famed wrestler “the Undertaker” entered by bringing complete darkness to the entire stadium, this massive dark veil was only broken by the screams of excitement and cell phone lights. When a large funeral procession bell rings, a faint light covered in mist appears, and then the Undertaker makes his way to the ring. Without a single punch thrown, the creative minds behind the cameras and lights have already created the setting for a classic showdown.
This match was perhaps the most captivating of the entire night. The Undertaker was facing Triple H, with “the heart break kid” Shawn Michaels as special referee. All these men were veterans and had wrestled together for over twenty years and this was perhaps the last Wrestlemania in which all three men would be under the same spotlight. The match was brutal and every chair shot, body slam, and hard landing was felt by the entire stadium as they “oohed” and “awed” in unison. This match represented the swan song of these cherished characters; when it finished, all three men, exhausted and bruised, held and helped each other back stage. They left behind them a true Wrestlemania moment with a standing ovation from the entire audience.
Nearly four hours after show time, the crowd was more than ready for the main event. Nightfall had fallen over the stadium, but the crowd still remained bright and excited. They were awaiting the hometown hero’s triumphant return. After showing their disapproval to the unwanted challenger known as John Cena (although credit should be given for Cena accepting the part of being the most loathed character to set foot in that stadium), “the Rock” had finally returned and the entire stadium showed it. Many repeated the ever popular “Rocky” chant, those from the Rock’s alma mater (University of Miami) stood with their hands joined forming a “U”, and children with their innocent voices yelled out harsh words of criticism to the challenger: “Cena sucks!” Even though it wasn’t a title bout, the intensity of the crowd (as well as the ticket counter) suggested that this was a championship game of the biggest kind.
The show was phenomenal, but it was the ticket holders that made it memorable. Many arrived in taxi cabs, rented limos, car pools and even hitch hiking from all over the city. Many had flown from different countries; Australia, Ireland, Barbados, and Puerto Rican flags were just a few being held up with pride. All of these people came out for a more than just entertainment; they came to witness something magical. The event’s moniker read “once in a lifetime”, those still holding their Wrestlemania 28 ticket stubs won’t hesitate to agree.