WrestleMania slams Super doubts

John Cena found himself between The Rock and a hard place, but he would bounce back. Courtesy of WWE

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- For a brief moment, most of the lights went out at MetLife Stadium on Sunday night.

But this was no power outage like the one that short-circuited the Superdome for more than 30 minutes during Super Bowl XLVII.

Instead, the Meadowlands was about to experience a power surge, as WWE took over MetLife for its own version of the Super Bowl: WrestleMania XXIX.

As the floodlights winked off, an ominous bell echoed throughout the stadium. Within moments, all the video screens and LED signs went purple flecked with lightning flashes. Blasts of fireballs from pyrotechnics exploded repeatedly into the sky, and the heat could be felt through thick glass even at the top of the stadium, all while a ghoulish organ played.

For a few minutes, the home of the New York Giants and New York Jets looked and felt like a graveyard as The Undertaker emerged through a cloud of smoke to make his dramatic entrance.

The lights came back on flawlessly, and with 10 months to go before Super Bowl XLVIII, the stadium proceeded to smack down any doubts about how it will handle a major event.

"Frankly, our event is bigger than the Super Bowl," said Kevin Dunn, WWE executive vice president of television production. "I'm very confident that when you go to a WrestleMania, you will see a bigger show than the Super Bowl."

"Our whole four-hour event is Beyonce, put it that way," Dunn added, referring to the recent Super Bowl halftime show in New Orleans. "The show Beyonce put on ... they do it for 10 minutes at halftime. We do it for four hours."

Packed with 80,676 fans, the stadium's look and feel changed dozens of times with colors, lights and pyrotechnics depending on which WWE wrestler was up.

When Alberto Del Rio emerged for his match against Jack Swagger, the stadium turned green, white and red to symbolize Del Rio's Mexican heritage, right down to the MetLife signage on opposite ends of the stadium.

WWE lit up MetLife with the kind of pyro that would have made KISS jealous. The company used 4,000 pieces of pyrotechnics and 1,000 gallons of propane.

The entertainment company said its signature event required eight times the electricity of a football game. And to make sure that there wasn't any chance of a power outage, WWE brought its own generators. The company said it supplied the event with 4 million watts of generator power and that 85 percent of the show was powered by a generator, with backup generators available.

During its opening season in 2010, MetLife stadium experienced a 10-minute outage after a transformer blew during a Giants-Cowboys game.

Dunn, a Ravens fan, was at the Superdome in February when the lights went out. MetLife Stadium and all entities involved have worked to make sure that doesn't happen here.

"The good news is about six months ago, my board had already approved an additional electric feeder line into the complex," said Wayne Hasenbalg, New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority president and CEO. "The NFL has been working closely with us. They came up to meet with us after New Orleans, and they were extraordinarily impressed by how prepared we are as it relates to that issue. I really don't expect that to be a problem."

Hasenbalg helped coordinate a local organizing committee that began planning and preparing for WrestleMania more than a year ago. The LOC includes more than 10 governmental agencies that make sure facets such as mass transit, security and tourism all work together smoothly for a weeklong event like WrestleMania.

Many of the components of the LOC will also help the Super Bowl host committee prepare for Super Bowl XLVIII.

"I think that is a point of pride for the local organizing committee here," said John Saboor, WWE's senior vice president of special events. "They talk about how proud they are as a region, about how everybody has worked so closely to not only attract [WrestleMania], but this organizational framework is in place now to host other major events that will come to the region."

Saboor said WrestleMania generated nearly $103 million in economic impact for Miami and South Florida -- host of last year's WrestleMania. This year's weeklong event, which included WWE's Hall of Fame ceremony at Madison Square Garden and WrestleMania's Axxess fan experience at the Izod Center (which attracted nearly 30,000 attendees last weekend), is expected to bring in at least the same in economic impact, if not more.

The Super Bowl will certainly be an entirely different animal. Hasenbalg said the NFL's showcase event is estimated to bring in "the neighborhood of $500 million" in economic impact for this region.

But as far as main events go, WrestleMania was a big one. Giants coach Tom Coughlin might even have been impressed. The coach exhorted his team last season to "build a bridge" from Big Blue's 2011 Super Bowl championship.

Leave it to the WWE to build an actual bridge in MetLife. The staging for WrestleMania included a huge model of the Brooklyn Bridge, with the Empire State Building behind it.

The ring itself sat underneath a covering that was topped with a gigantic model of the Statue of Liberty that looked half the height of the stadium. It took a 28-man crew two weeks to construct the WWE's New York-themed set.

WrestleMania 29 grossed $12.3M, making it the highest-grossing live event in WWE history. It also is the highest-grossing entertainment event ever at MetLife, which was the highest-grossing stadium in the world in 2012, according to Billboard magazine. The event attracted the third-biggest crowd in the stadium's three-year history, behind the 88,491 who saw U2 perform in 2011 and the 81,994 who attended a Brazil-Argentina soccer match in 2012.

"After seeing how we transformed this place to look nothing like a football stadium on game day, you guys are just fine for the Super Bowl," said John Cena, who defeated The Rock to win the WWE championship in the main event.

"If you could accommodate what we've done out there, [MetLife] will be just fine."