WrestleMania comes to the Sunshine State
WWE history was made this morning in Orlando, when a special press conference was held to announce that the Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium has been selected as the site for the 2008 edition of sports-entertainment's biggest showcase, WrestleMania.
The city of Orlando rolled out the red carpet, welcoming some of WWE's brightest stars, as well as some of WWE's biggest fans, who lined up as early as 7 a.m. to catch a glimpse of the action. Also converging on city hall were members of the Central Florida Sports Commission, as well as a multitude of local reporters and news cameras, there to document the announcement of what Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer referred to as an "iconic and unprecedented" event for Central Florida's thriving sports community.
The press conference started with a bang, as emcee for the day's events and Hall of Famer Mean Gene Okerlund welcomed the first guest, WWE Chairman and participant in WrestleMania 23's Battle of the Billionaires, Mr. McMahon.
"Thank you for welcoming us into your city," said the proud Chairman. "WrestleMania is different than anything else. Next March, we will bring that special atmosphere, as well as 60,000 fans here to the Citrus Bowl, and we promise you the time of your life."
WWE Superstars in attendance included WWE Champion John Cena, World Heavyweight Champion Batista, ECW Champion Bobby Lashley, and both participants in the highly intense fight over the Women's Championship, Melina and Playboy cover girl Ashley.
Unwilling to wait for her turn, the WWE Women's Champion interrupted Mean Gene and took to the podium. It didn't take long for the agitated Diva to state her intentions, and make a promise to her fans, and the paparazzi.
"Next March, we are going to heat up one of the hottest cities in the world," yelled Melina. "But first, I am going to dismantle Ashley at WrestleMania 23, and hold on to my title for the next 12 months so I can bring it right back here to Orlando for WrestleMania 24."
ECW Champion Bobby Lashley was next to take the podium. The hard-hitting Extreme champion had a confident and relaxed look on his face as he spoke to the crowd, taking a moment to glance over at one of his WrestleMania 23 adversaries, Mr. McMahon. While the Champion was quiet and soft spoken on this day, he will be anything but in just a matter of days when he takes the stage at Ford Field.
"It's an honor to be here in Orlando," said Lashley. "Every Superstar dreams of the day he can be a part of something like WrestleMania, and it will be honor to be able to live my dream again next year here in Orlando."
While the reception for all the Superstars was overwhelming, John Cena may have elicited the loudest response of the day. The Champ backed up the words of his fellow Superstars, telling the audience that Orlando was a perfect fit for sports-entertainment's grandest spectacle.
"We are here to make history," said Cena. "Orlando has a reputation for making dreams come true, and that is why there is no better fit for WrestleMania than the Citrus Bowl. I plan to work my ass off every day to make sure I can be a part of it, and to make sure that the next time I walk into Orlando, I am still the WWE Champion. We'll see you back here in 374 days."
On March 30, 2008, WWE fans from all 50 states and more than 23 countries will arrive in droves to the Sunshine State. You can be a part of the excitement as well. Stay tuned to WWE.com in the coming months as information regarding tickets is made available.