Michael Cavacini

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My WWE WrestleMania XXX Weekend

I had a great view of the action from my seat at WrestleMania XXX.

I had a great view of the action from my seat at WrestleMania XXX.

Last weekend I was in New Orleans for my first WrestleMania, WrestleMania XXX. It was a blast and I took a ton of photos and shot multiple videos. Below is a day-by-day breakdown of the fun and festivities that took place. Enjoy!

Friday, April 4

To save money, I decided to fly to Dallas and then to New Orleans. This worked in my favor because I ran into WCW legend Bill Goldberg at the airport. It turns out that we were on the same flight, so I politely asked him for a photo and he agreed.

Meeting Bill Goldberg at the Dallas Airport on my way to WrestleMania XXX.

Meeting Bill Goldberg at the Dallas Airport on my way to WrestleMania XXX.

My plane landed in New Orleans on Friday and I checked into the Marriott on Canal Street shortly thereafter. While walking through the French Quarter to grab dinner, I bumped into Hulk Hogan’s manager, Jimmy Hart. I said hello to him and asked if he’d be at WrestleMania Axxess, an annual festival where fans can meet WWE legends and modern-day superstars, and he said he would. It was a surreal experience to see a larger-than-life personality walking through the streets but he was as nice as could be.

After dinner I headed to the Ring of Honor show in Westwego, just outside New Orleans. The show, Supercard of Honor VIII, was my first Ring of Honor event and it was awesome. Ring of Honor is an independent promotion that has some national television exposure but it isn’t as well known as WWE or the second most popular wrestling promotion, TNA. That said, I wouldn’t hesitate to attend another Ring of Honor event. They go above and beyond to entertain the fans.

I enjoyed the Ring of Honor show with Ben (left) and Alex (right).

I enjoyed the Ring of Honor show with Ben (left) and Alex (right).

Saturday, April 5

On Saturday morning I was up early because I had an 8 a.m. meet and greet with the immortal Hulk Hogan. This was easily the most exciting part of my trip since I grew up watching Hogan as a child and also enjoyed his reality show Hogan Knows Best. After waiting for approximately 45 minutes, I made it to the front of the line and got to meet Hulk Hogan. I went up, shook his hand and told him that he was my childhood hero and that I have great respect for what he’s accomplished. He thanked me, autographed by WWE 50 book and we posed for a photo.

Meeting my childhood hero, Hulk Hogan, was the highlight of my WrestleMania weekend.

Meeting my childhood hero, Hulk Hogan, was the highlight of my WrestleMania weekend.

After meeting Hulk Hogan, I got in line to meet other WWE personalities, including Christian, Howard Finkel and Pat Patterson.

Meeting WWE Superstar Christian.

Meeting WWE superstar Christian.

Meeting legendary ring announcer Howard Finkel (left) and the first Intercontinental Champion, Pat Patterson (right).

Meeting legendary ring announcer Howard Finkel (left) and the first Intercontinental Champion, Pat Patterson (right).

I also visited an exhibit at Axxess called the Undertaker’s Graveyard. For the uninitiated, the Undertaker is a WWE superstar that, up until this year, was undefeated at WrestleMania for the past 21 years. So, they created a graveyard with tombstones for each of the opponents he beat. This graveyard also includes caskets and other props the Undertaker has used in his matches. Speaking of which, I had a photo taken of myself in one of these caskets, only to find out shortly afterward that this wasn’t permitted. Thankfully, I got this morbid shot before being reprimanded.

Me in a casket in the Undertaker's Graveyard at WrestleMania Axxess.

Me in a casket in the Undertaker’s Graveyard at WrestleMania Axxess.

They also had a burial plot symbolizing the Undertaker’s opponent at WrestleMania XXX, Brock Lesnar. As you can see, I eagerly took part in this photo opp.

Me, at the burial site of the Undertaker's WrestleMania XXX opponent, or so I thought.

Me, at the burial site of the Undertaker’s WrestleMania XXX opponent, or so I thought.

Before grabbing some food, I stopped by the Legends’ House booth and met Jimmy Hart. He let me pose with his famous megaphone, which was surprisingly heavy.

Spending time with the "Mouth of the South" Jimmy Hart.

Spending time with the “Mouth of the South” Jimmy Hart.

At 6 p.m. I had a meet and greet with the greatest wrestler of all time, “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair. Meeting him was a wonderful honor and after doing so, I was off to the Hall of Fame.

Meeting Ric Flair at WrestleMania Axxess.

Meeting Ric Flair at WrestleMania Axxess.

I had a great seat at the 2014 WWE Hall of Fame, just a few rows off the floor where the wrestlers and their families were sitting. And the class of wrestlers being inducted was excellent. In addition to seeing my all-time favorite wrestler, the Ultimate Warrior, I saw Jake “The Snake” Roberts and Razor Ramon (i.e., Scott Hall) recognized by WWE for their prolific and influential careers. But perhaps the best part was the surprise appearance by the Undertaker to pay tribute to his deceased manager, Paul Bearer, who was also part of this year’s class of inductees.

Sunday, April 6

After not getting much sleep, I woke up early, yet again, to visit WrestleMania Axxess on Sunday morning. This time around I met Howard Finkel (for the second time – and he remembered me!) and Roddy Pipper, Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat and “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff and, lastly, William Regal and several NXT wrestlers.

Hanging out with Howard Finkel and Roddy Piper.

Hanging out with Howard Finkel and Roddy Piper.

Meeting WWE Hall of Famers Paul Orndorff (left) and Ricky Steamboat (right).

Meeting WWE Hall of Famers Paul Orndorff (left) and Ricky Steamboat (right).

Meeting NXT Superstars and one of the greatest technical wrestlers of all time, William Regal (far right).

Meeting NXT superstars and one of the greatest technical wrestlers of all time, William Regal (right).

Before leaving WrestleMania Axxess, I took part in an open casting call for an upcoming WWE Studios movie. All I had to do was read lines off a teleprompter. I have no idea what the film is and I highly doubt that I’ll get called back, but I figured I’d give it a shot. I also went through the museum of WrestleMania memorabilia. Check out the video below to see what was inside.

Then, I headed across the street to WrestleCon, a non-WWE event where legendary wrestlers met and took photos with fans. My main reason for going to this event was to meet the WCW and TNA legend, Sting. It’s rumored that Sting will be appearing in WWE very soon so he can end his career with the company and be inducted into the Hall of Fame, so I wanted to meet him before this historic event takes place. He was as pleasant as could be and I’m glad I took the time to meet him.

Meeting WCW and TNA wrestling legend, Sting.

Meeting WCW and TNA wrestling legend, Sting.

After meeting Sting I got an early dinner and headed to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome for WrestleMania XXX. My seat for the show was great, and I shot a video of the opening fireworks.

By the time WrestleMania XXX came to a close, I was still in shock over the fact that the Undertaker’s streak of being undefeated at WrestleMania came to an end. The entire arena was in shock and many people were legitimately upset. For non-wrestling fans, I know this is hard to understand. But most fans wanted the Undertaker to retire with the streak intact. While this won’t happen, I’m glad to say I witnessed a historic event, and that I saw Daniel Bryan win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship after overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds.

Monday, April 7

On the last day of my long WrestleMania weekend, I was able to sleep late and take my time. That night I headed to the Smoothie King Center (talk about a stupid name for an arena) for WWE Raw, the company’s flagship television show. The show was awesome and I was only two rows off the floor, giving me a perfect view of the entrance ramp and the ring.

In hindsight, what made this edition of Raw so special is it was the last public appearance of the Ultimate Warrior. Tragically, the following evening he passed away at the age of 54, after collapsing in front of his car with his wife beside him. It’s hard for me to fathom how such a young and seemingly healthy person could die out of the blue, especially since he just made peace with WWE’s CEO, Vince McMahon, and was finally recognized for his tremendous in-ring accomplishments. In a way, it’s poetic that he passed away after receiving the adulation he so rightly deserved and I’m glad I was there to witness it. However, I’m sad for his family, including his two young daughters, because they lost someone important to them. To make things even eerier, the Ultimate Warrior’s promo (i.e., speech while in character) on Raw was about a man’s memory and accomplishments living on long after his death. Thankfully, I filmed the whole thing. It was a bizarre case of foreshadowing.

Posing with an oversized version of the Ultimate Warrior at WrestleMania Axxess.

Posing with an oversized version of the Ultimate Warrior at WrestleMania Axxess.

My WrestleMania XXX weekend was excellent. I met fans from around the world, spent time with legendary wrestlers and saw amazing feats of athleticism and entertainment. While I may have witnessed the end of the Undertaker’s streak and the Ultimate Warrior’s last public appearances, I also saw the stars of tomorrow and enjoyed visiting a new city. This trip exceeded my expectations and I will gladly go to WrestleMania again in the future.

I’m Back From Mexico

My girlfriend and I are back from Mexico and it was a great trip. The weather was beautiful almost every day except for the last – but I’ll take a rainy day in the 60s over a chilly snowy day in Philly anytime. We went snorkeling with sea turtles and fish and visited Mayan ruins in Coba and Tulum. We also ate a ton of food, including a chocolate cake I couldn’t seem to get enough of at the “Cupcake Cafe” (i.e., Starbucks) on the resort. All in all, it was a great vacation and a fitting way to celebrate being in a relationship with my girlfriend for one year. For those interested, I highly recommend checking out Mexico; it’s a beautiful destination worth exploring.

We stayed at Sandos Playacar in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

We stayed at Sandos Playacar in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

Our room was very nice and featured a jacuzzi.

Our room was very nice and featured a jacuzzi.

This was a great spot by the pool to relax, read or take a nap.

This was a great spot by the pool to relax, read or take a nap.

Here's a view of the beach from 5th Avenue in downtown Playa del Carmen.

Here’s a view of the beach from 5th Avenue in downtown Playa del Carmen.

I was convinced to partake in a Fish Spa treatment where small toothless fish remove dead skin from your feet. You could also refer to it as a nautical pedicure.

I was convinced to partake in a Fish Spa treatment where small toothless fish remove dead skin from your feet. You could also refer to it as a nautical pedicure.

Here's a closeup of the fish in action. It just tickled and felt like small vibrations. While the end result wasn't nearly as smooth as a pedicure, it wasn't bad for $10.

Here’s a closeup of the fish in action. It just tickled and felt like small vibrations. While the end result wasn’t nearly as smooth as a pedicure, it wasn’t bad for $10.

Here's a photo of us with a Shaman after he performed a ceremony asking the spirits to allow us to enter a Mayan cenote.

Here’s a photo of us with a Shaman after he performed a ceremony asking the spirits to allow us to enter a Mayan cenote.

And here's the cenote, which featured sea turtles and bats.

And here’s the cenote, which featured sea turtles and bats.

We had the opportunity to visit a Mayan family's home during our tour of Coba.

We had the opportunity to visit a Mayan family’s home during our tour of Coba.

Here's an inside shot of the home. They live very simply, and seeing this and learning how the community is economically and educationally deprived, made me more grateful for what I have here in the United States.

Here’s an inside shot of the home. Seeing this and learning how the community is economically and educationally deprived, made me more grateful for what I have here in the United States.

Here's that chocolate cake I mentioned earlier - it was amazing.

Here’s that chocolate cake I mentioned earlier – it was amazing.

There were several pools throughout the resort.

There were several pools throughout the resort.

There was also a mini-golf course that we took advantage of. While I lost to my girlfriend multiple times while playing air hockey in the game room, I won at this activity.

There was also a mini-golf course that we took advantage of. While I lost to my girlfriend multiple times at air hockey in the game room, I won at this activity.

In addition to monkeys, donkeys and lizards, the resort had approximately 10 cats that lived there. They had their own area called "Cat Cafe." One of these adorable felines became attached to us - we name her Rosa and she visited us a couple times in our room.

In addition to monkeys, donkeys and lizards, the resort had approximately 10 cats that lived there. They had their own outdoor area called “Cat Cafe.” One of these adorable felines became attached to us – we named her Rosa and she visited us a couple times in our room.

We climbed a massive ruin in Coba - I did it on all fours to avoid falling because it was so steep.

We climbed a massive ruin in Coba – I did it on all fours to avoid falling because it was so steep.

Here we are at the top of the ruin - it may not be obvious but I was frightened to go down.

Here we are at the top of the ruin – it may not be obvious but I was frightened to take this photo … and climb back down.

Thankfully I made it to the bottom of the ruin by sliding down, step by step, on my butt and clinging to the rope going down the middle.

Thankfully I made it to the bottom of the ruin by sliding down, step by step, on my butt and clinging to the rope going down the middle.

Here we are getting ready to snorkel for the first time.

Here we are getting ready to snorkel for the first time.

The best part of snorkeling was the cute sea turtles - they would pop their heads above water every few minutes to breath.

The best part of snorkeling was the cute sea turtles – they would pop their heads above water every few minutes to breathe.

We also saw a stingray. Thankfully these photos were taken by the instructor, not us.

We also saw a stingray. Thankfully these photos were taken by the instructor, not us.

And, of course, we were surrounded by fish, which was a surreal and somewhat scary experience.

And, of course, we were surrounded by fish, which was a surreal and somewhat scary experience.

We also visited Tulum where there are Mayan ruins and a beautiful beach.

We also visited Tulum where there are Mayan ruins and a beautiful beach.

The gorgeous beach in Tulum.

The gorgeous beach in Tulum.

In between holes on the mini-golf course, we got to see a monkey up close.

In between holes on the mini-golf course, we got to see a monkey up close.

And here's an iguana named Poncho - he lives on the resort in a tree.

And here’s an iguana named Poncho blending in with the bottom left root of his tree house.

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