ORLANDO, Fla. – Every year, Wrestlemania brings together fans from all around the world. This was no more evident than at Sunday morning’s Bacon, Bagels and Biceps Brunch, the traditional kick-off event held the morning of the pay-per-view, when this Canadian reporter found himself sitting at a table with fans from Germany and sitting beside a table that included Australians and even a fan from Japan.
We, and nearly 2,000 other fans, broke bread, and eggs and hash browns and other traditional breakfast fare in the dining hall of Orlando’s Rosen Center Hotel with several WWE superstars and divas and some of the guest celebrities who will also be appearing at the show tonight, for a fundraising breakfast to benefit the Make a Wish Foundation.
Before the stars took the stage, fans got a chance to interact with one another between trips to the buffet, while WWE promotional videos aired on the mammoth screens on either side of the hall. It was a unique chance to share common interests with people from the other side of the world.
Two German fans, Renee Hindz and Dieter Schlemper, were part of a group of 26 people who came to Orlando as part of a wrestling tour package. Though the two hadn’t met before meeting at the airport in Frankfurt, the two became fast friends on the flight to Orlando.
“Wrestlemania is a fan’s dream come true,” said Hindz, for whom this marks the third time he has attended the event. “It really brings together the whold world.”
“Orlando is a beautiful town, and the perfect place for Mania,” added Schlemper. “I’m very happy with everything so far, including this Brunch. This is an excellent event — everything I wanted.”
This included the chance to meet with and ask questions from many of the participants in Sunday’s matches. Sitting at the head table, and fielding questions from fans (Jimmy “Mouth of the South” Hart roamed the crowd with a microphone for the open session) were Batista, Matt Hardy, John Morrison and the Miz, Kelly Kelly, WWE Women’s Champion Beth Phoenix, Carlito, Shelton Benjamin, Torrie Wilson, Rey Misterio, and Mr. Kennedy. Also on the panel were Hollywood stars Raven Symone and Kim Kardashian, and rap master Snoop Dogg.
The Q&A session was fun and lighthearted, and the wrestlers stayed in character for the most part, interrupting and goofing on each other or threatening to fight, depending on who was talking and on what subject. Despite not being able to compete at Mania due to a bicep injury, Misterio put on a smiling face, promising the fans that he would be back. After one question of whether he would ever take off his mask again, as he did during his WCW stint, Misterio said that he would not want that to happen. He did, however, playfully ask the crowd if he should remove it there and then, and then did so, with his back turned.
Compared to the WWE stars, even Symone and Snoop Dogg were able to hold their own on the mic; as for Kardashian, well, let’s just say she has other redeeming qualities that don’t involve having to cut a promo — fortunately for her sake.
While the event offered the stars their last opportunity to interact with the fans before tonight’s show, and for fans to meet with others like them, the other, more important focus of the event, was the fundraising aspect. All proceeds from the event, which was organized by the David Maus Foundation, were donated to the Make a Wish Foundation, a charity that WWE has supported for years.
For Wrestlemania alone, WWE granted the wishes of 50 children — one from each state — by providing them with tickets to Wrestlemania, and the opportunity to meet their favourite wrestlers and attend a special party with Symone.
David Maus, the President of the Foundation, presented representatives from the Make a Wish Foundation with a cheque for $47,500, the proceeds from the brunch. During his comments, he made special mention of WWE legend Haku, who he said was, as a member of the Maus Foundation, instrumental in organizing was in attendance.
“I’m so happy to see the turnout this morning,” Haku told SLAM! Wrestling after the event. “Anything we can do to help the kids, it’s very special and very important. Thanks to all the wrestling fans who came out.”