TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – It was a packed house Monday night for WWE’s Monday Night Raw where an epic reunion was taking place with big names coming back to the Bay area, including John Cena, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan.
For many families, this event was a trip down memory lane.
Longtime fans could be heard reminiscing with one another about watching wrestling since they were children. Now, they’re passing this along to the next generation.
For many, it was a bonding experience.
“I watched wrestling for years cause I know all the old guys, you know,” said one dad. “So, now my son’s into it, so it’s like a bonding thing, you know what I mean?”
One father stood next to his young sons, all three grinning from ear to ear. The Tampa dad told us, “They get into it, so I get into and now they want to wrestle all the time. So, they’re excited.”
Another father was thrilled to be at the arena with his fiancé and children, telling us, “I’ve been watching this ever since I can remember. To me, this is big, this is everything.”
Some fans traveled to Tampa from as far away as Spartanburg, South Carolina.
Kelli Zellner and her husband made the trip specifically for this event. As they walked into the arena with their two sons, the whole family couldn’t wait to get inside.
“I grew up watching it, my husband grew up watching it and my boys, I’m not sure how they took to it, but it’s just become a family thing. They watch raw every Monday and Smackdown every Tuesday night,” said Kelli.
Parents at Amalie agreed that an event like this was a way to have family time and have fun. “It’s a way for us to do the old school, new school, and then we’re hanging out together,” one dad said.
For the city, big events like this with big names are, indeed, a big draw for Tampa when it comes to tourism dollars.
“We just couldn’t be more excited to have this event in Tampa. They get to see all of the wrestling and they also get to see everything that is great about our city,” said Mayor Jane Castor.
There’s no doubt, Tampa Bay is big in the wrestling world, certainly a fan favorite, from the past, the present and the future. Fans are already marking their calendars for WrestleMania coming up in the spring.