When WrestleMania XXVIII comes to the Sun Life Stadium on April 1, it brings with it almost a week of WWE-related events ranging from a golf tournament to the WrestleMania main event. Some attendees are diehard fans who never miss an episode of Raw or SmackDown; others just have a casual interest in a nostalgic reminder of their favorite larger-than-life heroes from childhood. Either way, WrestleMania offers hours and hours of interactive opportunities.
But pro wrestling has plenty of haters, too -- whiny folks who laugh at the outfits and the over-the-top acting and the so-called "fakeness" of it all. And, we'll admit, those are valid points. But there are plenty of reasons WrestleMania is one of the biggest events in the city, drawing crowds from all over. And it's not all bulging, lubed-up biceps and comically arched eyebrows. (Though yes, The Rock will be there.)
Here are ten reasons everyone in Miami should experience at least some of the squared circle shenanigans.
This hometown hero was part of the University of Miami's National
Championship football team before he became a multi-time champion in
WWE. Now he's a big-time movie star, but even snooty wrestling haters have to admit that he's at the top of his game when he's in the ring. At WrestleMania XXVIII, "The Most Electrifying Man in All of
Entertainment" finally returns to one-on-one action in one of the
biggest matches of his career against John Cena. And given the verbal
sparring that's been going on for more than a year, when these two top
stars from their respective generations collide it's likely to make for a
historical WrestleMania moment.
The Undertaker's Undefeated Streak
The ominous Undertaker made his WWE debut in 1990. He has since amassed a
19-0 record at WrestleMania and looks to make it 20-0 this year. But
'Taker hasn't competed since last year's WrestleMania, where he was
carried out on a cart despite being victorious over Triple H. This year
he once again faces Triple H -- and this time it's in a Hell in a Cell
cage with Trip's buddy (and Undertaker's rival) Shawn Michaels as
referee. Admit it: There's a deep-down, dirty part of you that wants all successful people to fail. Here's your chance to watch it happen, and if it doesn't, you can still make fun of the men in tights.
If you're not into wrestling, you probably know Tyson primarily from his ear-biting days and his cameos in The Hangover movies. But to the rest of us, "Iron" Mike Tyson is best known for his dominance in the boxing ring and other
attention-grabbing controversy. He was also involved in
some of the most memorable moments from WWE's Attitude Era of the '90s
and early 2000s. This year the facially tattooed fighter is not only
being inducted into the celebrity wing of the WWE Hall of Fame, but
he'll also be available for autographs at WrestleMania Axxess between 8
and 10 p.m. on March 30. Ask to pet his tiger at your own risk.
Speaking of WrestleMania Axxess...
WWE superstars and divas can look pretty scary mid-fight, but they're also some of the fittest, sexiest stars out there. They're also usually untouchable when it comes to face-to-face meetings.
But in the days leading up to WrestleMania, Axxess (held at the Miami
Beach Convention Center) gives you, um, access to many of WWE's top
talents of today and yesterday. It also features photo opportunities,
looks at WWE history, the Undertaker's graveyard and other interactive
fun. C'mon, when else are you going to be able to hit on a woman who would literally tear you to pieces?
WWE Hall of Fame induction ceremony
On the eve of WrestleMania, WWE inducts a new class into its Hall of
Fame at the AmericanAirlines Arena. This year's class includes Luchador
legend Mil Máscaras, Edge (who defended the World Heavyweight
Championship at last year's WrestleMania against Máscaras' son Alberto
Del Rio) and the first black World Heavyweight Champion, Ron Simmons -- as
well as Tyson, sumo great Yokozuna and the most memorable stable in
wrestling history, the Four Horsemen. You've gotta be at least a little intrigued by a story that begins, "A Luchador, a sumo wrestler, and Mike Tyson walk into an arena...."
Eve Torres and Beth Phoenix
Purists hate the fact that women's wrestling has been replaced by a
divas division that focuses on appearance over talent. They also hate
the random insertion of celebrities into WrestleMania matches. Last year
it was Jersey Shore's Snooki. This year it's Extra's Maria Menounos,
who actually has some prior experience in a WWE ring (and at least she's
not Snooki). But the real highlight of this match is the pairing of
current Divas Champion Beth Phoenix and former champ Eve Torres, two
women whose athleticism is just as impressive as their looks. Either way: Hot chicks. Hard to argue with that.
Since its inception, WrestleMania has provided plenty of spectacle and
surprises. Tyson, Menounos and Flo Rida are scheduled parts of the show,
but you never know who else might show up (Pee-wee Herman was part of
last year's show). But with top stars like Del Rio, former WWE Champion
The Miz and the diva-crushing Kharma not officially part of the show as
of this writing, there's a lot of room for surprises in the ring as
well. Who knows -- maybe Madonna will show up to upstage everyone -- it wouldn't be the first time.
Who doesn't love an underdog? WWE Champion CM Punk and World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan both
made names for themselves on the indie wrestling circuit. And both have
proven to be resilient and resourceful champions. Even jaded wrestling
fans annoyed by WWE's mainstream luster will want to pay attention as
Punk takes on Chris Jericho and Bryan defends against the Irishman so
pasty commentators often refer to him as "The Great White."
Sure, most of the hoopla over the next few days is to help build
anticipation for WrestleMania itself. But when Raw is at the
AmericanAirlines Arena the next night, you can experience WrestleMania
excitement without the inflated ticket prices. And you'll get to witness
new rivalries as they develop.
Wrestling fans are typically, um, a varied lot. But with WrestleMania
attracting media and fans from all over the world, you're sure to spot
some crazy characters before you even get to the arena or stadium. Pro tip: if you see guys who clearly aren't wrestlers walking around with replica
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title belts, do not engage. Those are usually the real loose cannons.
WrestleMania XXVIII comes to Sun Life Stadium April 1.