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  • Writer's pictureBrian Attard

Consider this—WrestleMania is the best of sports entertainment

courtesy photo

The world of professional wrestling took over Philadelphia this past week as WWE brought WrestleMania 40, their premier annual event, to Lincoln Financial Field. Over 145,000 people from all over the globe packed the home of the Eagles over two nights.

I personally was in attendance with seven friends for both nights of “the showcase of the immortals”, and it was an experience I’ll never forget. Our group had been planning this since news broke in July 2022 that Philadelphia would be the host city. It was my third WrestleMania, having also attended 29 in 2013 and 35 in 2019, both at MetLife Stadium.

WrestleMania is what people remember forever. It’s wrestling’s grandest stage, where moments are made that never die. To fans, when we look back at events from the past, they’re referred to just by their number. Thanks to streaming, anyone with a subscription to Peacock can turn back the clock whenever they please.

Pro wrestling is an art form, combining elements of all genres of entertainment. There’s certainly the athletic element to it, but there’s so much more. There’s action, comedy, mystery, horror, and of course, drama. At its core, pro wrestling tells stories. The hero versus the villain. Triumph of the underdog. Unlikely alliances. Friends turning into enemies. Love triangles.

As wide of a net as wrestling casts, it’s not for everyone. I’ve heard it all from detractors.

“You know that’s not real, right?” No, thank you so much for telling me! Yes, everyone knows wrestling is pre-determined. Your favorite TV show is too. Did people think Game of Thrones was actually happening?

The main story of WrestleMania 40 was that of Roman Reigns and Cody Rhodes.

Reigns, the Universal Champion for over 1,300 days, is from one of wrestling’s royal families.

Even those who aren’t wrestling fans know his cousin, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Reigns is the “tribal chief” of his family, known as The Bloodline. The Rock had returned in order to have a familial WrestleMania main event between he and Reigns, but those plans were spoiled by Rhodes.

Rhodes, the son of legend Dusty Rhodes, came back to WWE in 2022 after leaving for six years, where he wrestled around the world and ended up playing a primary role in the creation of WWE’s primary competition, All Elite Wrestling. He came back to chase the championship his late father had never been able to win. He returned to finish the story.

I won’t give the ending away. What I will tell you is that the match epitomized everything that is wonderful about professional wrestling. When you become invested in the story being told, belief is suspended. Of course, it’s a script and the winner is decided well in advance. The championship belt is nothing more than a cinematic prop. But that’s the magic of it all.

As Rhodes once famously tweeted, “wrestling is a love story.”

Brian Attard is a lifelong resident of Hammonton, avid sports fan and host on The Sports Box Network (@SportsBoxSports on all social media platforms).


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