Winners crowned in WrestleMania Reading Challenge World Finals
MIAMI – Before the lights in Sun Life Stadium blaze to life for WrestleMania XXVIII, a completely different showdown took place in the nearby Miami-Dade Public Library. Middle and high schoolers from all over the US and Canada squared off in the seventh annual WrestleMania Reading Challenge World Finals, vying for ringside seats at The Show of Shows ( PHOTOS, VIDEO). The previous night, the finalists had the opportunity to meet bestselling author Mick Foley and former WWE Divas Champion Kelly Kelly. ( PHOTOS, STORY)
After outlasting the other readers in their respective areas, 20 finalists traveled to Miami to compete in the Challenge. Before the competition, fans also enjoyed an exclusive meet and greet with WWE Superstars Dolph Ziggler, Rey Mysterio, Hornswoggle, Alicia Fox and Mick Foley. One competitor was so overwhelmed to meet Fox, she burst into tears of joy. "It’s very humbling," said Fox. "I love being able to come here and talk to these kids. I’m honored to be a part of it."
Presided over by Mick Foley, the competition was as furious and heated as a WrestleMania main event, with the finalists from three different grade groups being posed questions by Rey Mysterio and Dolph Ziggler on Mike Lupica’s Underdogs (grades 5-6), After Tupac and D Foster by Jacqueline Woodson (grades 7-8) and Paul Volponi’s Riker’s High (grades 9-12).
After a series of 20 trivia questions, the regional finalists in each grade category who correctly answered the most questions about his or her group’s respective book were named World Champions and presented with ringside seats to WrestleMania XXVII! "Ringside seats!" enthused Ziggler. "I’ve not sat ringside for anything, ever. And I’ve been to two Britney Spears concerts this year. There are 79,999 people behind you! I’ll be seeing these kids’ faces when I’m winning the match for Team Johnny."
Nicole Jones, who claimed the top prize for the grade 7-8 category, was thrilled with her victory and noted that she trained for the finals as hard as John Cena is no doubt training for tomorrow’s battle against The Rock. "I read the book five times," she said. "So I was pretty confident, but I knew there were a lot of people who knew it too."
Traveling all the way from Denver, Colorado, grade 9-12 winner Jesus Reyes came from behind to win it all in a classic WrestleMania-style ending. "I was a little nervous," he confessed, "because the person sitting next to me was ahead of me at one time. And with the last question, I knew one part of the question for sure, but one the second part I wasn’t so sure, but I got it."
And, it wouldn’t be a WrestleMania Week event without a title defense. Grade 5-6 competitor Chase Leclair won last year’s challenge in Atlanta and returned this year to take home the silver cup!
The event is a special one for both the Superstars and the WWE Universe, continuing WWE’s trend of being a leader in promoting literacy for today’s kids, and even uniting Superstars who might ordinarily be at opposite sides of the ring. "You see us in the ring, and we’re wrestling against each other,” said Rey, “but when it comes time to motivate our youth, then we come together."
The WrestleMania Reading Challenge encourages tweens and teens to read not only during Teen Read Week but each and every day beyond. Who knew that reading a book could lead to a trip to The Shows of Shows on The Grandest Stage of Them All? Now that’s a story with a happy ending.
For more information, visit wrestlemaniareadingchallenge.com.