Tuesday, 01 April 2014 08:00
There wasn't anything of major note at today's WrestleMania press conference, which really came off more as a WWE Network press conference with WrestleMania as the secondary subject.
The two most notable things were no appearance of Vince McMahon, who was advertised as being there, nor any mention of him. You could sense a lot of uncomfortable participants because the press didn't react or cheer, since it would be unprofessional to do so. But the performers weren't used to quiet when they come out for entrance music, and in the case of Hulk Hogan and Daniel Bryan, a lack of crowd participation in their catch phrases. There were fans in the back row, but with so many people not reacting, most of them were quiet as well, except one or two occasions late after several wrestlers knocked how dead it was.
Hulk Hogan would do things to get the crowd to react and it was half-hearted at best, and came off begging for a reaction by the end, which never comes off well. In this setting, compared to everyone else, he came off almost like a cartoon character from another generation.
From there, HHH tried to joke about having to follow Hogan's lack of response. Daniel Bryan was there trying to get people to chant "Yes," and it's never good when you beg for response that isn't there.
This actually led to the two funniest participants.
Dave Bautista was next, and came out and outright said he was uncomfortable and didn't want to be there. He had his script, and started making fun of it, saying it has a bunch of things that he would never actually say and the person who wrote it should be fired, "Unless it's Steph." He then tried to get heat by saying he came back because he was between movies, but the people there didn't understand the reaction he was trying to get, and later talked about his love for wrestling. He also made fun of Daniel Bryan in a suit. A few fans did boo him, well, maybe one. He then made jokes about people mocking his skinny jeans and said they had their own "tweeter," until he realized he should have said "twitter," and then joked about just showing his age. He also said that it sucked that the main event turned into a Triple Threat match.
Randy Orton was next, completely in character, talked for maybe a minute if that, just quick and got out of there. Unlike Bautista, who was funny about it, Orton so clearly had the attitude of saying what he was supposed to say and finishing as quick as he could.
John Cena was saved for last, who acted like he was doing an off-the-cuff speech, but given it was built around a theme, "I was there," an old WWF marketing campaign, and talking about being with Hulk Hogan with people bringing up his match with Andre the Giant, it at least felt scripted. Cena and HHH did the best as what they were there for as far as being company and brand spokespersons. Cena talked about the event, not his match. In fact, unlike a sports press conference, there was no mention of the card, or hyping much past the point of Bryan vs. HHH and the title match.
Stephanie McMahon and HHH talked mostly about the network, and there was a theme about how this is the first PPV on the network. HHH, called Paul "HHH" Levesque, also pushed NXT, and the idea that The Wyatts, The Shield and Big E all came from NXT, pushed NXT is on the network and also put over Daniel Bryan before switching to character and saying his dream wouldn't come true.
Bryan told a story about his dream as a kid growing up, and he said it was his dream not when he was sleeping but before he would go to sleep, to be the best pro wrestler in the world. His speech that did feel more scripted was talking about the power of the people, and how the people had more power than the people in the back.
Since WWE press conferences load up on monsters, since the other guys there were Great Khali, Big Show, Mark Henry and Fandango, to a non-fan, Bryan looked really out of place in his suit and tie. But he also came across as the most sincere guy there, but it was uncomfortable watching him do the "Yes" chants to almost no response.
Later, in a face-off with HHH, some fans in the back did chant "Yes," but even then, when they showed the room and it's 20% tops, it wasn't that impressive.
Overall, this was like all WWE press conferences, stories about putting smiles on faces, getting over the brand, Stephanie McMahon heavily pushing the charity work and the network and Cena pushing the magnitude of the show on Sunday. It's mostly a very practiced corporate presentation, completely different from a press conference for almost any sport or entertainment event.