With the sports world on hold, Cronkite News will take a daily look at this day in sports history and reflect on some of the biggest moments in Arizona sports.
PHOENIX – On March 28, 2010, the professional wrestling world had its eyes on Glendale, as 72,219 spectators filled what is now known as State Farm Stadium. The flagship competition of World Wrestling Entertainment delivered one of the sport’s most memorable main events.
WrestleMania XXVI “was the first one that I ever watched as a fan,” said Graham Matthews, a WWE columnist for Bleacher Report. “The whole show was really solid and doesn’t get enough credit and had some amazing matches.
“The main event, Shawn Michaels versus The Undertaker Part Two, in my opinion, is the greatest WrestleMania main event of all time.”
The match pitted two WWE legends against each other, with Hall of Famer and Chandler-born Michaels facing future Hall of Famer The Undertaker, who was trying for his 18th straight WrestleMania victory.
In a career-ender match, where the loser must retire from the sport, the Undertaker won by pinfall after a 24-minute match that fans loved.
Michaels retired, but he returned eight years later, in September 2018.
Gilbert’s Chelsea Castillo was there, and it cemented her love for the sport and convinced her to pursue wrestling as a career.
“WrestleMania was really just larger than life, because I was 12 at the time,” said Castillo, now 22. “I was a really big fan and knowing that it was not only being broadcasted around the world but it was in your hometown, it was amazing to be there in person and see it all happen before you.
“Seeing the ring in front of you is really special, with so many people being there and feeling the unity of the other fans who are into the same thing as you.”
With other great matches that preceded the main event like Triple H versus Sheamus, Chris Jericho versus Edge, and John Cena versus Batista, fans had the opportunity to see some of the greatest wrestlers the sport had to offer, all on the same night.
“I was really into John Cena, Triple H, Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker, who were all there,” Castillo said. “Seeing them all in person was a special feeling that gave me inspiration to want to do this for a career. Seeing it live helped me determine that I can do this for a living and that I really needed to give it my all to try to make a career out of this.”
Not every match was a hit with the fans, particularly one involving WWE majority owner Vince McMahon and WWE legend Bret Hart.
“The Hart versus McMahon match was an absolute trainwreck,” Mathews said. “As I was watching it I couldn’t resist laughing because of how bad the match turned out, because of how out of shape they both were. It was very comical.”
There was a 10-woman tag-team match on the card that was only announced days before the event. With women seen more frequently as managers to male wrestlers at the time, fans were not very enthused by the addition of this match and it only lasted a few minutes.
“It’s great to see the evolution of women’s wrestling,” Mathews said, “because you go back 10 years to this event and there was a 10-woman tag-team match which only lasted about three minutes that no one really cared about. Fast-forward to present day and the women’s matches are headlining. For example, WrestleMania 35, where Becky Lynch defeated Rhonda Rousey and Charlotte Flair in a triple-threat match for both women’s championship belts.”
“Growing up there wasn’t a big presence of women wrestlers,” she said, “but it’s great seeing all of the women now that are headlining shows and proving that wrestling isn’t just a male-dominated sport.”
WrestleMania was able to achieve its goal on this night as it inspired Castillo, and possibly many others, to chase their dream of becoming a professional wrestler and reinforced their love for the sport.
“I applied to Seth Rollins wrestling school in Davenport, Iowa,” Castillo said. “It is called Black and Brave Wrestling Academy, which I was accepted to. I will be attending the fall classes there in September.”
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