1. Here’s how it works: Walk up to Sam’s Town Live, which is basically a converted ballroom, pay $5, find a seat at a round dinner table and enjoy four hours of wrestling. There are three projector screens side-by-side showing WrestleMania. A few years ago, when hi-def wasn’t readily available, this was a great setup. Watching the standard definition feeds on screens that are clearly scratched feels like I’m in some type of time warp, but then again I’m at Sam’s Town, so maybe that’s about right.
2. There have to be 400 people in the room. No one’s in costume, but some are wearing shirts featuring their favorite wrestlers. One guy has a Stone Cold Steve Austin shirt on. He hasn’t wrestled since WrestleMania 19 (2003). I believe in fashion terms that’s called “sad vintage.”
3. The quietest moment of the night comes after The Undertaker’s undefeated WrestleMania streak (22-0 coming in) is broken by “The Beast” Brock Lesnar. Betting odds were Undertaker 1 to 50 and Lesnar 12 to 1—basically nobody thought this would happen. “The Streak” is one of the precious things that wrestling fans hold on to, and a huge moneymaker for WWE. It’s odd being in a room with 400 stunned people, especially when the outcome is predetermined. It’s an awkward moment and likely the last match for The Deadman.
4. I never thought I’d have to bring earplugs to a televised event, but yeesh, that sound’s on too loud. I’ve been to concerts that were at a lower decibel level.
5. The night belongs to Daniel Bryan and the #YesMovement. The undersized, underdog hero of the WWE Universe has been chasing the World Title since he was screwed out of it at Summerslam last August by the evil Authority, COO Triple H and wife and part owner of the company Stephanie McMahon. Two theories abound: 1. The WWE never wanted Bryan in this position and tried to move him out of the top spot, but with every loss, fans fell further for the former king of the indies, ensuring sure their man would have his day. Or, 2. The WWE is so smart, it played the fans to the point where they’d be salivating to see Bryan win on “the grandest stage of them all.” Either way, the #YesMovement got its way. Bryan first beats Triple H in a classic match, then goes on to beat “The Animal” Batista and World Champion “The Viper” Randy Orton in a tense, compelling main event to win the title. 70,000 fans in New Orleans and 400 in Sam’s Town mimick Bryan’s chant, pointing a finger on each hand in the air and yelling, “Yes! Yes! Yes!” to end one of the best WrestleManias I’ve ever seen.