DFW Gets Wrestlemania Mania at AT&T Stadium
Forget about the Christmas season for a moment – last night marked the start of Wrestlemania season here in the Metroplex. On April 3, 2016, Wrestlemania 32 will take place at AT&T Stadium in Arlington (a quick explanation for the uninitiated– Wrestlemania is the Super Bowl of professional wrestling). Wrestlemania 32 may be several months away, but tickets go on sale today, and to celebrate, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) hosted a free pre-sale event at AT&T Stadium, with autographs, live matches, and several question-and-answer sessions with performers past and present.
Everything was well-run, and a shockingly good deal – not only was admission free, they offered complimentary parking. Once inside, staff managed the 7,000+ in attendance with ease, minimizing congestion. Having endured the Oddball Festival/Texas State Fair Traffic Fiasco of 2015, it was a relief to see the level of organization on display. Fans were able to go directly onto the field, and a wrestling ring was placed right over the Cowboys’ star at the 50 yard-line. Areas were set up for merchandise sales, activities were available for the kids, and there were multiple stations where fans could get autographs from wrestlers. They also left sections of the stadium open for concessions, and (I’m very happy to report) alcohol. Putting the wrestling aside for a moment, it was a great opportunity to poke around AT&T Stadium.
The event formally kicked off with a speech from wrestling icon “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, who invigorated the crowd as he talked about his storied career and the significance of Wrestlemania, before taking part in a question-and-answer session with the crowd. The show’s hosts, WWE announcer Corey Graves, Greg Hamilton, and Christian Litke, held several contests where fans could win merchandise.
One of the biggest selling points of the evening – and maybe the most surprising, considering it was being given away for free – was the match card. Five bouts were showcased, all from performers at NXT. Ostensibly the WWE’s developmental program, NXT has become a major draw in its own right, and routinely sells out events. This is the first time NXT has come to the DFW area, and WWE’s willingness to let people see it free of charge is evidence that they want their first Wrestlemania in Dallas to be something special. When you consider that Wrestlemania 32 could be the WWE’s biggest event to date, it’s easy to see why they went out of their way to give fans a great show.
In addition to Wrestlemania 32, WWE will hold their biggest fan event, Wrestlemania Axxess, at the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center. The American Airlines Center will host the 2016 WWE Hall of Fame ceremony, and the Monday Night Raw happening the night after Wrestlemania (unlike with the Super Bowl, there’s no post-Wrestlemania off-season for the WWE). If yesterday’s pre-sale event is any indication, DFW’s wrestling fans are in for an unforgettable experience. For more information on these events, and how to get tickets, go to the WWE website.