The Shield, 40 Hours Without Sleep, and a Broken Trunk: A Wrestlemania Road Trip (Part 2)

By Chris and Christina

What you are about to read is Part 2 of a true story of two library bloggers and their daring Wrestlemania 29 adventures. Part 1 can be found here. This harrowing account is presented in a back and forth manner, taking you from the road trip itself to each of the exciting Wrestlemania matches. Christina will tell you about the wrestling matches, and Chris will tell you about everything else.

As we recount more of this gritty tale we will weave plenty of literary connections into it. Links for titles titles will take you to that item in the library catalog. Links for other things will take you places where you can learn more about the topic being discussed. And as always we will have a link at the end that will take you to a list of all the items mentioned in this blog.

You will also encounter two videos in this post. They are both embedded into this blog, meaning you just need to click on them and they will play right here. The first requires sound, since there is a lot of talking. The second has music, but the sound is optional.

Also, did you know you can see a larger image of all our pictures simply by clicking on them?  Well now you know.  After viewing the larger image just click the back button in your browser to return to the blog.

Sunday, Day 6: This is it, the big day! Up until this point we haven’t really talked about Wrestlemania itself, other than the matches. So allow me to fill you in some here, and I’ll try to give you an idea of the scope of this event. As Christina’s father, who lives in New Jersey, said: “I guess this is a bigger deal than I thought.”

First, the basics. Wrestlemania 29 was held at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ. This is the same stadium that the New York Giants and J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets play at. Announced attendance was 80,676, which set a stadium record. Yes, you read that right, eighty thousand. Fans came from all 50 states and from 34 countries. WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc.) also reported over 1,000,000 pay-per-view buys. The Empire State building was lit up in Wrestlemania colors. It was, indeed, a big deal.

It was a short drive from the hotel to the stadium, and I made sure we got there plenty early.  Once they opened the doors first stop was a souvenir booth. Sure, we could have gone into the WWE superstore they had set up, but the line was out of the door of that place as soon as they opened. That line was positively Disney-esque.

The souvenir booths at these types of events always seem to be the same. There is no line. Just a mob of people pressing forward, waiting their turn. It somehow works. Sure, you always get a couple of drunk ones and the creepy guy pressing up on the ladies, but perseverance pays off and tshirts are acquired. We had to wait a bit as the guy in front of us wanted to double check the $450 replica championship belts he was buying. Note the plural there.

Finding our seats proved to be an adventure. I finally asked (I know, how unmanly of me) and turns out our tickets were for club seats. Woohoo! While still outside, the seats did give access to an exclusive inside concourse. It was fun to watch others arrive in our section and give each other high fives at the awesomeness of the seats.

WM Seating Chart
We were in section 245.

And finally the show began! As Sheamus came out to his music in preparation to a beatdown from The Shield it began to rain. Fortunately the rain didn’t last long. It was in the 40s, and we should have brought a blanket with us, but once the show really got going we weren’t bothered by the cold. Plus we could always pop inside to warm up.  One time that Christina did pop inside to grab some coffee she ran into a New York Giants football player.  She knew this because others were recognizing him, but alas she did not remember his name.  He was a big dude, though.

Celebrities often get involved with Wrestlemania. Governor Chris Christie was there, and was roundly cheered. Snooki was there, and was soundly booed. P. Diddy performed, which provided an excellent opportunity for a bathroom and beer break. Fireworks boomed throughout the show. CM Punk, as usual, came out to Living Colour’s Cult of Personality, but this time they were on hand to play it live!

After the show the line was still out the door for the superstore, and of course it took quite a feat to get out of the parking lot.  But to be honest, it was easier getting out of there then it was leaving Wrestlemania XXVII in Atlanta two years ago.

Travel note: I’m pretty sure that I gave the parking lady two $20s and a $5 instead of two $5s and a $20.  Ah, such is life!  A little planning can go a long way.  Buy shoes on Wednesday and tweet at 4:00 : more of the best times to buy this, do that, and go there

Match 6: One of the more controversial feuds right now in WWE is the one between Jack Swagger and Alberto Del Rio. Jack Swagger’s current gimmick (or wrestling persona, if you will) is of a self-proclaimed “real American”, who along with retired wrestler Zeb Colter creates promos in which they rail against foreigners and immigrants. Swagger and Colter are, of course, merely portraying characters, and have addressed this in an open statement to Glenn Beck:

I went to fetch a drink and when I came back, Zeb Colter was in mid-rant about all the languages he’d heard while in New York. This is not an unusual observation; this Times article proclaims New York City as “the most linguistically diverse city in the world”.

Monday, Day 7:  Once again we start out at midnight, as we pull into the Tick Tock Diner on the way back to the hotel.  This New Jersey landmark, located a stone’s throw from the hotel (I have a pretty good throwing arm), was once featured on this show.  You probably won’t be surprised to hear that the diner was full of people wearing wrestling themed shirts.  The food was great, and we avoided any issues with management, which apparently was a very good thing.

Once we got back to the hotel I verified that a headlight was out on the car, and we grabbed some sleep.  First thing in the morning Christina made an appointment at a nearby VW dealership, and we again played the waiting game to see if a hospital visit was going to happen.  It did not.

The car dealership fixed up the headlight no problem, and also a back up light that was out.  this part was tricky because of the broken trunk.  As we headed off, I noticed that one of the directional lights was acting funny, and a quick check showed that a brake light was now out.  That car also suffers from loose connections with the lights.  So, right back to the dealership so they could fix that stuff up.

After that we decided to hit the movies again and see Jurassic Park in IMAX.  To fit the theme of the trip the theater’s soda fountains were broken.  but they had a coffee and smoothie bar in there, so consolation raspberry and strawberry smoothies it was.

Dinner was a yummy take out pizza from Anthony’s, and then it was time to watch Monday Night Raw.  This (usually) live show has aired every Monday night since 1993, and is the longest running weekly episodic TV show in history, with over 1000 consecutive episodes to date.

The Raw after Wrestlemania can be an exciting show, like last year’s, when Brock Lesnar made his return to WWE after years fighting for real in UFC.  This one, which took place at the IZOD center directly next to MetLife stadium, took a different tone.  The crowd, likely featuring a goodly number of foreigners, had a grand old time, singing and chanting things that had no relation to the in-ring action.  Indeed, they made Fandangoing a thing.  People were even playing Fandango’s song on their car horns after the show.

Travel note:  the fifteen minute drive from the hotel to the car dealership crossed multiple town and county lines, and a river.  We crossed the river via bridge, as opposed to, say, something like Cork boat : true story of the unlikeliest boat ever built.

Match 7:  Oh man. I was really looking forward to this match, as was everybody else in the crowd. Basically Undertaker is sort of the Meryl Streep of Wrestlemania. His record is 21-0, no losses at Wrestlemania. Chris was rooting for Taker, I was rooting for Punk. I was sad to see Punk lose, but as always he put on an amazing match. Dude can wrestle.

Photo by Christina Wilder
A look at inevitability.

In case you’re wondering why I compared the Undertaker to Meryl Streep, it’s because she has quite an impressive record of her own – she has been nominated for an Academy Award seventeen times. In fact, Wikipedia has a page devoted to all the awards Ms. Streep has won or has been nominated for and it’s rather extensive.

Tuesday, Day 8:  Time to take our leave of the Garden State.  With the trunk not being available to us, I had to pack everything into the back seat that morning.  It was during my second trip out to the car that I had to take off my hoodie due to it being warm.  Yep, after a week of cool temperatures Mother Nature said, “Hey, you guys are driving for hours and hours?  Then let’s make this the warmest day of the year so far!  The wafting stench of baking manure will be your companion today!”

So back south we drove.  I’m sure you are all gleefully anticipating that something else terrible will befall us, or more specifically to our car.  But alas, we made it back unscathed.  And again we drove through the more scenic parts while it was dark.  Either that or some parts of Tennessee are covered in eternal gloom.

Anti-gloom evidence, or Photoshop?  The truth is out there!
Anti-gloom evidence, or Photoshop? The truth is out there!

Travel note: it seems to me that in the not so distant past, the signs on the highways that indicate what eating establishments were available at exits only showed fast food chains.  This time I saw more local places featured, and also non-fast food chains.  Case in point, we found a Ruby Tuesday’s for lunch, and the salad bar really hit the spot after hours of hot driving.  With more time at our disposal we may have looked for one of these:  Retro diner : comfort food from the American roadside.

Match 8: Triple H (with Shawn Michaels) defeated Brock Lesnar (with Paul Heyman).  A No Holds Barred match with the stipulation that if Triple H had lost, he would have been forced to retire.

Photo by Christina Wilder
Brock Lesnar heads down the ramp. The fan boys in our section got giddy when he came out.

Most people look forward to retirement, even if they are forced to retire early due to injury (like Edge). Philip Roth, author of the notorious Portnoy’s Complaint and various other novels, has recently announced his retirement, prompting this article to ask if writers ever actually DO retire.  All I know is that I hope Stephen King keeps plugging away.

Wednesday, Day 9:  Technically we again start at midnight, still driving home, but nothing exciting happens.  In fact, nothing exciting happens that whole day.  We may have watched a movie.  We were not inspired to eat 50 eggs.  Cool Hand Luke.

We recommended starting small and working your way up to 50.  Remember, pics or it didn't happen!
We recommended starting small and working your way up to 50. Remember, pics or it didn’t happen!

Match 9: John Cena defeated The Rock, becoming the new WWE Champion. The final match of the night was a revisit from last year’s Wrestlemania, only this time Cena was victorious against The Rock. This battle became personal, with John Cena discussing his real life marriage troubles in promos against The Rock.

Photo by Christina Wilder
The Rock waits in the ring for John Cena.

Redemption is a popular literary theme, from the Harry Potter series to Crime and Punishment to A Christmas Carol. If you’ve already read those and want more titles, you can search “redemption” as as keyword in our catalog and come up with over two hundred titles. I’m guessing you’ll find something that interests you.

Wrap-up.  In the past I had wondered, while watching wrestling on TV, if the fans in attendance were encouraged to cheer or boo or chant by messages displayed at the arena.  Kind of like the taping of a TV show, where an applause sign is lit up at the appropriate moment.  And the answer to that is no.  All of it is spontaneously created by the fans.  The epitome of this was during the CM Punk/Undertaker match, which was easily the best match of the night.  It is not just that the dueling “Un-der-ta-ker/C M Punk!” chants were loud, I think even louder than the Cena vs Rock chants were, but that they went on for the entirety of a 20+ minute match.  Except when they changed to the rare “This is awesome!” chants.

Wrestlemania is a grand spectacle to behold, put on be a company that really knows how to deliver its product.  There is the predictable (Undertaker is now 21-0 at Wrestlemania) and the surprising (the Rock lost).  Our adventure had more than the standard amount of frustration and expenses and heartbreak.  But we got through all of that okay.  And already our eyes and plans turn towards The Big Easy, New Orleans, the site of Wrestlemania 30.  Let us know if you need a ride.

Here is a treat for you: a “slideshow” of Christina’s Wrestlemania 29 photos.

This link will take you to a list of all the titles discussed in this blog.;page=0;locg=155;depth=0

(Edited 11/3/14 to fix/replace broken links and to correct typos.)