Blog: WWE Wrestlemania 27 Press Conference
Before the superstars of World Wrestling Entertainment embarked on their trip down south to Atlanta for Wrestlemania 27, they made sure to stir up the buzz with a fun mid-day press conference for both fans and the media on Wednesday. The Hard Rock Cafe (formerly the site of the WWF New York restaurant) in Times Square hosted the publicity event, with some of the more rabid members of the WWE Universe (fans) camping out overnight to secure their spot inside. It proved to be the perfect consolation prize for those not making the trek down to Hotlanta at 7pm ET for Sunday’s extravaganza from the Georgia Dome.
The afternoon began promptly at 12:30 with hundreds of fans wrapped around the corner of 43rd Street, unable to get inside, but still cheering with passion as several of the superstars arrived in driven SUV’s. The WWE had multiple screens playing up highlight packages and vignettes featuring Wrestlemanias past and present, commentary from mainstream celebrity participants, and WWE goodwill efforts toward the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the like. Even before emcee and lead antagonist Michael Cole made his way out to start the event, rabid fans vociferously began shouting across the main area at each other, claiming “this side’s better” and Cole’s arrival to the stage only managed to cement both sides together, against him to his detriment. Though he worked to rally the fans, it may have been a mistake by the company not to have a straight laced, impartial announcer hosting the event- especially with the many vocal fans inside, making it difficult for even the biggest fan favorites to be heard.
After extolling the WWE’s virtues and previous successes, Cole introduced Stephanie McMahon, the next-of-kin to the WWE empire, who utilized her time by graciously playing to the crowd several times, and reminiscing about what the Wrestlemania tradition meant to her own childhood. McMahon brushed aside several anti-TNA (WWE’s largest rival competitor nationally) chants with some good-natured smiling, but announced flat out that “(Hulk Hogan, TNA’s biggest acquisition) will certainly not be appearing at this year’s Wrestlemania.” McMahon’s exit paved the way for Cole’s announcement of World Heavyweight Champion, Edge who is defending his title Sunday against Mexican, Alberto del Rio. Edge, who is much taller than you would expect in person, humbly spoke about attending Wrestlemania in Toronto in 1990, and seemed in utter disbelief at the prospect that he’s competing in one of the bigger matches at a Wrestlemania event in 2011. Del Rio was out next to a cavalcade of boos and ribbing from the fiery crowd, his arrogance and cockiness in describing his quick ascension up the title ranks only fueling their hatred. To avoid any physical conflict, the company smartly sat both competitors across the room from each other, although the stares at each other filled the air with an unmistakeable tension.
Former reality television star turned wrestler The Miz was out next, antagonizing the crowd with more of the same bragadocious behavior as Del Rio; only with The Miz, you believed he actually was the cocky, grating character he portrayed. He of course proclaimed that he would successfully defend his WWE Championship on Sunday at Wrestlemania against the polarizing John Cena, and that he was, in fact, “Awesome.” The Miz was followed by Triple H, who was first announced as one of the members newly working in the back office, who kissed his wife (the aforementioned Stephanie) openly onstage for perhaps the first time, and who claimed that he’s working with current WWE head Vince McMahon to ensure that the Wrestlemania brand is held to the same high standard for another 27 years in the future, indicating that he’s truly in line to takeover the company. He then revealed that he will be inducting his best friend Shawn Michaels into the WWE Hall of Fame on Saturday night (also from Atlanta), calling him the “best in ring performer of all time.” He also vowed to break the Undertaker’s Wrestlemania winning streak of 18-0, claiming “It’s gonna be 18-1, and I’m the one.”
The mainstream media in the house went nuts for the Jersey Shore’s Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi, although the fans appeared lukewarm to her arrival and short time on the mic. But the essence of this event was to bring in media that would pay no attention otherwise, so the Jersey native surely served her purpose, even before Sunday’s big inter-gender, 6 person tag team match. But once Snooki’s time concluded, only two participants remained- the aforementioned Cena and the return of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, slated to be the official Host of Wrestlemania. Between choruses of boos, Cena began to get frustrated with the large crowd on hand, having to stop and look around several times in response to relentless heckling. But professional that he is, Cena powered through remarking that “Wrestlemania is the biggest event in entertainment of the entire year,” which is nice in theory but clearly is subjective. Finally out came The Rock, to the clear cut biggest crowd response of the afternoon. Johnson ran down the lineage of his family in the wrestling business, the importance of the WWE and Wrestlemania to him personally, and promised to deliver a Rock-style smackdown on Sunday’s pay per view.
With every main member of the roster having said their piece and having ramped up the crowd for Wrestlemania 27 on Sunday evening, it was time for the photo opportunities as Snooki took center stage to pose solo, before John Cena and The Rock joined her on opposite sides. Johnson then took the microphone and confronted Cena nose to nose; both men with fists clenched, as the media waited for a brawl to erupt. But alas plenty of photos were taken as the two wrestling Icons stood in front of the Wrestlemania banner, before letting cooler heads prevail. Funny enough, Cole asked that Cena and The Rock once again resume standing to Snooki’s sides even after this staredown, and both men (begrudgingly) obliged. The flash photography buzzed furiously during the 90 minute press conference, with one on one interviews with many of the superstars happening after the fans had been let out of the event.
There’s a lot of things you can say about World Wrestling Entertainment- some of which are true, most of which are not. But you simply can’t deny the fact that they always manage to send their fans home happy. They know their brand and their audience and they promote feverishly to sell you on their events. And perhaps most importantly, you can’t deny the pageantry of Wrestlemania. This Sunday, the 27th installment, will be broadcast live in front of over 70,000 screaming fans, coming into Atlanta from a multitude of different countries, speaking different languages, with one thing in common. More than 800,000 homes will purchase the four hour event on pay per view to see the culmination of a full year’s worth of build and storylines, celebrity guests, booming pyrotechnics, and a pound for pound show that truly stands alone above any other live show. Yes, it sure is time for Wrestlemania.
- Jane Van Arsdale