If you were to ask me last week about the best thing I've ever witnessed in life, I'd have gone with standing behind the boundary rope as Dhoni hit the World Cup winning six against Sri Lanka. Now, I'd probably have to go with Wrestlemania 30.
There is of course, no comparison. For one, cricket is an actual sport and it's unlikely we'll ever see as spontaneous and magical an outpouring of emotion from Indians across all walks of life. We needed that victory to reaffirm our own confidence in our country. Wrestlemania 30, despite being sports entertainment, meant even more on a personal level. It was a culmination of nostalgia and fond childhood memories all packed into one weekend that will never be replicated. It was the finale of everytime I stayed up all day to watch matches on TV, of forcing my family into buying me packs of trump cards, of scouring shady underground markets to find a t-shirt that said Austin 3:16, of buying every wrestling video game starting from my Sega Console to the Playstation 3. World Cups and Wrestlemanias will keep happening, but mentally I've put a full stop on both those timelines. For me, these are the last memories I'll carry with me about these events till the end.
What were the things that made is most special?
The entire city of New Orleans had prepared for this one big event as if it was the second coming of Christ. A Wrestlemania is said to add about 100 million dollars into a city's economy over a weekend and it was obvious why. I've never seen close to a lakh wrestling fans almost take over a city with thousands of them dressed up in Hulk Hogan costumes walking around in malls, markets, restaurants, toilets and everywhere else you looked. It felt like the world's largest fancy dress party. Even my room key was Wrestlemania branded!
It's one thing seeing wrestling stars make an entrance on television, but it is entirely different when you're in a stadium full of people and the lights go out for The Undertaker. The illusion does break a little bit because you can see hundreds of production people running around and arranging coffins before his entry but when the gong hits, you believe like everyone else that he is the dead man who is out there to inflict punishment. The entire event is like watching a Bollywood movie in a cinema, just with more people suspending common sense because the payoff and the physicality of entertainment is so much higher.
Finally, the hall of fame. I got a chance to witness the more "human" side of the business with Jake the Snake Roberts and the Ultimate Warrior talking about their sacrifices, drug and alcohol addictions, being unsure of themselves and what it means to grow older in a business that is so competitive and unforgiving. It added a whole new layer of respect and recognition for their effort that because the business is "fake" isn't lavished upon them like other sports even though they're not as brutal.
If you're a wrestling fan and ever get a chance to watch Wrestlemania live, take it. It really is one of the greatest live spectacles on earth.