New York Report: WrestleMania
April, 5, 2013
By Ohm Youngmisuk | ESPNNewYork.com
Ohm Youngmisuk/ESPN New YorkA fan on the WWE stage.EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- I didn’t give "The People’s Eyebrow."
Nor did I have "the millions and millions" of fans screaming for me as The Rock will have on Sunday night at MetLife Stadium for WrestleMania 29.
But, I did get to do something The Rock and every other WWE superstar does on popular shows such as "Raw" and "Smackdown." I got to walk onto the WWE’s iconic stage, where Superstars come out to their music video intros, and down to the ring.
This weekend, fans are able to get up close with some of the WWE’s Superstars, legends and Divas, and get autographs and behind-the-scenes access at WrestleMania Axxess, the WWE’s fan experience held at the IZOD Center in East Rutherford this weekend leading up to WrestleMania.
For $45, fans can purchase a general admission ticket and get autographs, watch NXT live matches (WWE’s up-and-coming superstars) and participate in several fan interactive stations along the arena’s concourse. For $135, fans receive VIP behind-the-scenes access, which includes the chance to get autographs from some of the biggest names and the opportunity to walk on and take pictures on the "Raw" and "Smackdown" stage. Unfortunately, the VIP tickets are all sold out but general admission is still available for Saturday’s and Sunday’s sessions.
Courtesy of WWEWWE's AJ Lee.
This is the first time Axxess is being held inside an arena, allowing fans the chance to see the full "Raw" stage on display. This coming Monday night’s "Raw" episode will be held at IZOD.
Even though the VIP tickets are sold out, I can give you an idea of what it is like after Brian Flinn, senior vice president of marketing and communications, gave me a tour.
The first thing you see, and can’t take your eyes off of -- unless, of course, WWE Diva AJ Lee is standing near you -- is the stage. The size and the ever-changing video screen is really cool to see in person. There's a Mattel WWE Power Slammers area, where kids can play with the latest toys like WWE Brawlin' Buddies. As I walk to go behind the stage and see the normal setup for "Raw" and "Smackdown," I walk by The Undertaker, who is signing autographs for VIP fans.
Behind the stage, I got to see Vince McMahon’s office and the Superstars’ locker room, which is set up in what used to be the visitor’s locker room and trainer’s room for New Jersey Nets games. There are even rooms for seamstresses, who have to repair costumes on site.
Perhaps the coolest thing to see is the "Gorilla Position" area. Named after former superstar Gorilla Monsoon, the room is located right behind the stage and it is where McMahon and other WWE executives and producers huddle with talent right before a superstar walks onto the stage to head toward the ring. It is here where McMahon and Paul Levesque, WWE’s executive VP of talent and live events and also known as Triple H, and others go over key points with guys such as The Rock and John Cena before they talk in the ring or square off in a match.
There is a table with television monitors in the room, giving the "Gorilla Position" a TV control room feel. You can then walk on to the stage and take a picture in front of the video screen before walking down the ramp toward the ring. On the concourse, fans can stop and do anything and everything from recording your own Cena rap intro song karaoke-style to getting autographs from several stars like legend Dusty Rhodes to climbing up the "Money in the Bank" ladder.
If you are a WWE fan and can’t get a ticket to WrestleMania, you should stop by Axxess. Where else can you dress up like The Macho Man -- as one fan did on Thursday night -- and look totally normal and fit right in?
And who knows? Maybe you’ll get lucky and run into AJ Lee.