• Brad Ward’s BlogaMania: Part V (Brad Gets Raw)

    Wrestling superfan Brad Ward takes us on a trip; HIS trip. From Canada to New Orleans, enjoy Brad’s daily antics leading up to Wrestlemania 30 with Brad Ward’s BlogaMania. Take it away, Brad!

    Welcome to my Wrestlemania week blog, where I will detail, star rate and fill your eyes with pictures and sometimes videos of New Orleans. Wrestlemania week is more to me then WWE’s biggest show of the year. It is seeing an entire year of stories and superstars build to one week to see who is going to be the next new star. It is the chance to see friends and colleagues. It is seeing Superstars live and just taking in what you talk about for a year in front of your own eyes.

    This is Wrestlemania week, it’s time to be cool and eat fruit.

    MONDAY: Jimmy John’s, KaRawoke and public BDSM.

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    I sleep in to 9AM and start the day pretty early, as we want to hunt down the famous New Orleans delicacy called beignets. On the way to finding them, we stopped at a nearby convenience store to find the newspaper that has Daniel Bryan on the cover as the new WWE World Heavyweight Champion and talks about the Yes Movement.

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    We went to a place on Bourbon Street but were asked by someone “do you want a beignet or the BEST beignet?” They tipped us off to a place in the French Quarter called Café Du Mont. Unfortunately, it was packed so we went to this small café that only sold coffee and beignets.

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    We then headed back to the hotel, which was about a 20 minute or so walk back. I wanted to try this place called Jimmy John’s, which was literally a cross walk from the hotel. I knew it was Brock Lesnar’s sponsor and I heard it was actually pretty good. I got something there called ‘The Italian Night Club’, a Diet Coke and some chips. I was saving it to eat after Raw was over, as it can be tricky to get food after the show. I made it back to the hotel and watched the rest of NXT with Zayn and Graves in the main. It was an okay match, but nothing spectacular, which seems to be the trend for Graves’ matches.

    We went out to this place called Walk-On’s, which was billed as the best sports bar in the United States. I had these cheese waffle fries (bacon, chives, lots of shredded cheese) and boneless buffalo wings w/ bleu cheese. While it did take awhile to get our order, we had plenty of time so it was not a big deal. I thought it was some of the best sports bar food I have had in quite some time.

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    The great thing about our hotel is the travel to events (Raw, HOF, WrestleMania) was literally a straight-line shot for walking. So, we went on the last trek to the Smoothie King Center / Superdome area.

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    We made it to Raw around 5PM or so, as Raw is now three hours long and you have two matches to be taped on Superstars as well. My first order of business was to get some Yes Movement merchandise – I wanted to pick up the Yes foam finger and Yes towel. I was successful in doing so and was very happy, so I then proceeded to head to my seat. Even though it was in the 300 level, it still gave me a really good view of the action.

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    Like I did for Wrestlemania, I am not going to go too in-depth because you can get Raw results anywhere, but here are some things that really stood out to me.

    • Our seats were right in front of the spotlight guys, so it was kind of neat seeing them work their magic.
    • The crowd was really good at the Smoothie King Center, which was to be expected.  I deem Raw as KaRawoke.

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    • Superstars had Ryback defeat Ziggler and Titus defeat Kingston. I really enjoyed Ziggler and he was super over, but man how far he has fallen since his big title win after WrestleMania last year. Kingston and O’Neil are kind of two guys who could have gotten the win either way and are just in limbo until creative has something better, I guess.
    • Enjoyed the opening segment with Triple H and Bryan. We got the main event announced and more heat towards the Bryan and Authority feud.

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    • Really fun tag match with Cena, Sheamus & Big E vs The Wyatt Family. The crowd was awesome as they chanted such things as “fuck ’em up Wyatt” and sang “He’s got the whole world in his hands” and “John Cena sucks” to Cena’s theme song. I am a huge Cena guy, but I still thought it was pretty funny.
    • Bo Dallas seems to be returning to Raw, I really enjoyed the vignette they did for him about him being this motivational type of guy. I get a Mr. Perfect vibe from his videos, would like to see his motivation stuff allowing him to be greater in life. Excited where this character goes outside the ring.
    • Emma & Marella took on Fandango & Summer Rae. Fandangoing barely returns, Emma gets the win and is super over. Seemed to be the biggest star in the match, it seems like Fandango and Summer Rae have split in some fashion.

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    • Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar come to massive heat crowd reaction. Paul Heyman shot on the fans for trying to get themselves over, talked about how he told everyone so and he was nothing short of brilliant in this segment. One of the best post match segments I have seen in quite a long time coming out of a WrestleMania match. Lesnar is going to be a big freaking deal heading into Wrestlemania 31.

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    • The crowd instantly turned on The Usos vs Batista & Randy Orton. The match was thrown out as Batista and Randy Orton laid out The Usos with foreign objects. They stood tall, it was alright and smart use of time without having to spend time on a full match, as you can see they had a lot planned in this three hour show.
    • RVD returned and fought Damien Sandow in a pretty short match. Tons of E-C-Dub and RVD chants, he was a huge star to the crowd. As last year, they all chanted for RVD and now they got him. RVD did his roundhouse leg drop on the outside. Finish was a five star. I hope he is used much better this time around.

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    • Rey Mysterio vs Bad News Barrett was clearly The Wade Barrett Show. This may be the very last time I will ever get to see Rey Mysterio live and especially on Raw. WWE doesn’t come up to Calgary much and you never knew when Rey is going to get hurt again. We got to see all of Rey’s high-flying spots, but Wade was able to get the win here with the Bull Hammer Elbow. This seems to be the repackage of Wade Barrett. Barrett played a lot to the crowd here and the crowd loved him. If they continue the Barrett push like this, he may be a top star in the future, but that remains to be seen.
    • Alexander Rusev was announced to come out very soon and people in the crowd were like “I bet he is facing Zack Ryder” and he did. Lana, who is now introduced as ‘The Ravishing Russian’, announced Rusev and he had a short match with Ryder. Very stiff, I am not sure how he will get over exactly, as it is a very old school type gimmick but we’ll see, but I love his sambo / karate / sumo style.

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    • Ultimate Warrior came out in a suit and then his jacket was on the stairs ready for him and he walked up the apron and did his infamous rope shake. That was something I did as a child on pretty much everything I could find.It has been years since I saw the Ultimate Warrior live and he was my hero growing up. He got a huge ovation and he started speaking as Warrior (James Hellwig) but then switched over to Ultimate Warrior literally. He cut a very good promo in his old Ultimate Warrior style and talked about Warrior living through the blood of others. At the time I did not know he was going to pass away unexpectedly. I found out about his passing when I got off the airplane and I was floored.

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    • AJ came out and I thought did a strong promo about what happened at WrestleMania with the Diva’s Invitational. Paige came out and congratulated AJ and AJ took a shot at her. They had a short match and Paige reversed the Black Widow into the Paige Turner to become the new Diva’s Champion. Paige had a great reaction and came off like a huge star both in the arena and on social media. The feud between these two has the potential to be very big and could be our generations of Trish and Lita.

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    • At this point we don’t now if AJ is going to stick around or not, but time will tell.
    • Cesaro being put over huge by Hogan was awesome. Then we had Cesaro say he was a Paul Heyman Guy and destroying Swagger was a cool call back to the past. Cesaro is still somewhat a heel, but he is so great in the ring that he will turn fully sooner then later. He is the guy I feel like should have been in Curtis Axel’s spot all along.
    • The match following the in ring segment, I thought was really good. It was a good tease to what to expect at Extreme Rules. Loved how the crowd sang the ‘We the People’ song, which may be a thing of the past now. I hope Cesaro gets a brand new t-shirt, tron suite and overall presentation now that he is a Paul Heyman guy.
    • The Shield, Kane and Stephanie backstage segment, I thought was some good foreshadowing of the final segment. I was expecting Reigns to say crystal clear and he did, got me excited for the main event segment.

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    • There was part of me who was expecting to see Triple H and Bryan have a legit match, but the deal with The Shield said to me that probably wasn’t happening. The rebirth somewhat of Evolution was what I wanted to see as far as Batista returning, just really stacking the deck against Daniel Bryan.Orton and Batista laid out Bryan, followed by Kane who you thought might stop it but he then hit a choke slam on Bryan. Triple H then came out and you thought it was over for Bryan and then you had The Shield come out. The Shield felt like huge legit stars and while they were fantastic as heels, they are even better as baby faces. We then had a huge brawl between The Shield and The Authority, Bryan slowly got up and hit the Solid Knee Plus on The Game. The tandem of The Shield and Daniel Bryan standing tall was a truly telling story that the guard has changed from Cena to Bryan.Bryan did the post Raw / Mania promo talking about how much it meant to him, he started to get misty eyed. He talked about how much it meant to him to live his dream to win the title at WrestleMania. Talked about how we allowed him to live his dream from SummerSlam to the Royal Rumble to WrestleMania. We simply finished off by saying Thank You. Bryan ended by giving high fives to the entire ringside, both the left and right side of ramp and did the Yes gimmick all around. That concluded the Raw tapings.

    Raw I thought was a show that packed in a lot of information, presented a ton of segments that may possibly could have been done over a few weeks, but it was really the exclamation point that the guard has passed from your Cenas, Ortons, Batista and Sheamuse to some new superstars like Bryan, The Shield, Paige, The Wyatts and more.

    Yes, the long term stars do have a spot on the show, but it was a telling message that a change is coming and it truly started the night after WrestleMania. I think too that, if you watched that show on television that you want to say in 2015, I was there.

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    We left Raw and headed back to the hotel to drop off my Yes Movement merchandise off as we were going to head down to Bourbon Street as I wanted to get this cool Jester like souvenir cup. It was a bit windy and I will admit I was a bit worried about how the weather was going to shake out. In any event we headed down to Bourbon Street; at first we wanted to hit the Hard Rock but it was closed.

    Instead, we went to this place called Jester’s who had the cup and they had various slushy drinks like Pina Colada, Hurricane, Margarita, Strawberry Daiquri and more! I  got the sounvenir cup with Magarita and man it messed me up pretty damn good. Adam and Todd wanted some food so they went to this chicken place and got some wings, I had my Jimmy John’s sub back at the hotel so that is why I didn’t get any grub to eat. We then made the final march down Bourbon Street back to the hotel.

    Now here is a story, so we got out of the chicken place and some chick who was topless had a whip and whipped multiple CM Punk fans, and we all chanted yes yes yes and at the end she wound up, like Bryan kicking Triple H in the head, she hit each CM Punk fan with a finishing whip blow. It was FANTASTIC and a great end to Bourbon Street.

    Leaving Bourbon Street I wanted more; while I did have some moments with other friends that kind of hurt inside thinking about it, Bourbon Street overall was a success in every way imaginable. When you think of great party places you normally think of Vegas and New York City, but I think New Orleans should be close to the top of the list.

    We made it back to the hotel around 1AM and started to pack up and clean up the hotel so we didn’t have to do the mad dash in the morning. While packing I thought to myself, “is this really over?” I don’t get an opportunity to go on a ton of trips outside where I live, so when I make them I try to cherish every moment possible. I then ate my Jimmy John’s sub and fell asleep.

    Tuesday: Welcome home, Brad.

    I woke up around 9AM and got ready for the day and finished packing up. Just seeing all our bags packed up and  everything coming to the end, all the moments rushed through my head and I was just happy about this week.

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    Matt and myself took the same shuttle to the New Orleans airport and we said our goodbyes till we meet again. I then was dropped off at my concourse, which was the same concourse as Adam and Todd. I made it through TSA check, took out the old Xbox for one final time and then collected my stuff and met up with Todd and Adam. I wasn’t that hungry, so I just had water. We were sitting next to Razor Ramon, which was pretty surreal.

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    Due to my flight getting delayed due to the lightning storms, I had to book it to my terminal. I didn’t get a lot of chill time, so I grabbed this baguette roast beef cheddar sandwich, which I enjoyed. I boarded my last flight in Houston, which I liked as the plane was very roomy. The flight did feel like it was going on forever, but it was fine. On the flight, I listened to some of the Lady Gaga Artpop album and some podcasts and I also slept a little.

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    I wanted to spend some time watching some of the WWE video content before I finished this blog to really let it soak in how big of a week it was. I saw some of the WrestleMania Todays, the Legends of WrestleMania panel and just most of the video content that WWE had to offer. I really feel that WWE is very close to being on the same level now of a NBA or NFL. If you are an entertainment fan, a wrestling fan or if you just like to have fun, you  need to be part of a WrestleMania week at least once in your lifetime. I have had the opportunity to be a part of a handful of WrestleManias. I remember dreaming about attending WrestleMania as a kid and it is everything I hoped it would be.

    The bond you make with friends who attend these shows are something that will stay with you till the day you die. I have had thoughts about attending Superbowls or UFC fight weeks, but every time WrestleMania week is over, it is hard not to go with WrestleMania week every time.

    I went into this week with a ton of baggage in my head. I can’t get into it too much right now, but over time I will let you guys know. I experienced good times and bad times this trip. It was a hell of a rollercoaster ride going up to down to going all the way up from Saturday till Tuesday morning. When it was down, the ups previously out weighed the bad. To quote Joey Splashwater, who quoted Daniel Bryan “as long as you try, it is a success.”

    I would like to close this blog series out by thanking @JoeySplashWater and @TomBlackett for keeping the blog ship running.

    I would like to thanks my England friends @EmmaStern, @DieRubberDucky and @WillECW for the great times during WrestleMania week that I will never forget.

    Thanks also goes to my hotel room mates @Rawfshowtime for being the glue of the room, @AdamItkin34 for setting us up with tickets and the room, @Todd_W_Warren for giving me the night to stay in New York and I felt I really clicked with him. The time I had with Adam and Todd makes me want to move to NY someday to go to shows all the time.

    Much respect goes out to @TheFGNGardner and @FinnishPhenom for travelling so far and just being really cool dudes. While we never got to record the FGN podcast, I am hoping we can do this on Skype very soon, with UFC and new gen fighting games coming very soon. My only regrets is not being able to meet more people that I know from Twitter. I would like to thank the wrestling fans, WWE and @WWEUniverse for at no point feeling like I had a bad experience. I was proud to say that, at the end of day, I was there.

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    Star Ratings

    Daniel Bryan on Newspaper – ★★★★★

    Beignets – ★★★★

    Walk-On’s Food – ★★★★

    Raw – ★★★★★

    RVD RETURNING – ★★★★★

    Final Bourbon Street Night – ★★★★★

    CM Punk Fan Whipping – ★★★★★

    Going Home – DUD

    Flight to Houston – ★★★

    Flight to Calgary – ★★★

    Reflections – ★★★★★

    Tom and Joey – ★★★★★

    I would like to thank everything from reading and following along with my WrestleMania week trip blog series.

    – Make sure to follow me on Twitter @BradWardFGN and see what is next for me in life!