WWE: Was this year’s show the most memorable WrestleMania! of all time?
The quick answer is yes. From start to finish, it undeniably did one thing and that is surprise. Nobody can throw the word “predictable” at WrestleMania 30. Among the magical moments that will live on for eternity was one particularly controversial result. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about, but we can get into that later. Let’s take a look at what went down in the Silver… sorry, the Super Dome.
“The Immortal” Hulk Hogan made his way to the ring to kick off the show. It was a very pleasant surprise to not have to sit through the national anthem or whatever-stupid-song-they-always-get-some-female-singer-to-perform before the show. This turned out to be his only involvement in the show, but it was probably the most popular segment of the night. He was quickly joined by “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. The roof nearly came off the place in the bar I was in. The atmosphere was immense, and by the sounds of it, the crowd in the arena were more than exciteable too. The real shock moment came when The Rock’s music hit and he came down the ramp. The three of them stood in the ring throwing out catchphrases and expressing respect for one another. This went down well with the audience as tens of thousands of geeks lived out their ultimate fantasy. An amazing opening to the show would prove to be a sign of things to come.
Daniel Bryan v Triple H (Winner enters WWE World Heavyweight Championship match)
The first match of the night was probably the best. Triple H continues to prove that he is far greater than Bret Hart’s 4/10 valuation. Despite being a part-timer and a veteran, he once again pulled off a terrific match. Of course, Daniel Bryan was always going to make it great, but there is no doubt that The Game really held up his end of the bargain. I expected them to kick off the show on a high note by putting this match on first, and that’s what happened. The first physical action of the show did not disappoint. Fans were on the edge of their seats throughout as these two told a great story, and produced an enthralling and entertaining performance. Despite the influence of Stephanie McMahon at ringside, Daniel Bryan could not be stopped and picked up the win. Bad loser Triple H beat him down some more after the match, in an attempt to soften him up ahead of the main event that he was now a part of. A terrific star to the night!
Kane & The New Age Outlaws v The Shield
The Hounds of Justice once again cut off Road Dogg before he could do his awesome schtick. I was not a fan of this, but I did dig their awesome masks. This was somewhat of a squash match, which surprised me. As happy as I was to see The Shield pick up a dominant victory over their veteran opponents, I was disappointed not to see their talents showcased more on the biggest show of the year. Nonetheless, there were suicide dives, superman punches, spears, and an extremely special ending. Rollins and Ambrose perched both of the Outlaws on the shoulders of their partner and helped deliver a double triple-powerbomb. Despite not seeing quite as much of them as I would have liked, it was pleasing to see the young bucks go over so strongly and enhance their reputation going forward.
30 Man Over-The-Top-Rope “Andre The Giant” Memorial Battle Royale
Anyone who knows how the business works understands that this match is just an oppurtunity to get as many of the guys from the locker room out through the curtain and into the show. With that appearance comes a payday. Despite being used as a filler bout and a chance to put people on the card, most fans wouild welcome this match knowing what it means to some of the guys involved. If you’re Brad Maddox or Yoshi Tatsu, this is a chance to live out a dream – a chance you otherwise wouldn’t be afforded. As for the match itself, it was better than expected. I actually found it rather entertaining. It would have been cool to have some legends in the match, but I guess we can’t complain too much on the front after what opened the show. It boiled down to four or five of the top upper mid-card guys (Sheamus, Big Show, Cesaro, Dolph Ziggler and Kofi Kingston I believe). When it came down to two, the indomitable Swiss Superman body-slammed the giant over the top rope to secure the huge “Andre The Giant” trophy for himself. The crowd went wild for the supposed heel, who then respectfully shook hands with his opponent. I see a face turn on the horizon, and big things for Cesaro this year!
John Cena v Bray Wyatt
This match really impressed me. I understand there are a lot of mixed reviews out there on the internet, but I thought these two guys did a tremendous job. Bray was particularly envigorating, and the crowd responded in kind. It was another one of those situations that you can only get at Wrestlemania! when the most hardcore, legit wrestling fans unite for one night. Only here can you have the beloved hero booed to the ring and the evil, creepy villain completely adored throughout the match. He was worthy of the adulation, once again showing why he is fast becoming the most fascinating character in the country. His unique, physical style and one-of-a-kind approach to ring psychology made this encounter something to witness. The only problem was the fact that John Cena predictably overcame the odds. I’m not a mindless Cena hater. I respect the hell out of the guy, but he didn’t need the win here. Wyatt could have really benefited from having this feather attached to his cap. Nonetheless, he is over like a mofo and put on a terrific match. The sky is the limit!
The Undertaker v Brock Lesnar
Every year The Streak dominates Wrestlemania! This year was no different, but for strikingly different reasons to usual. The Deadman has been waning in his performances gradually over the last few years, but has still managed to reach down and pull a classic out of his gut. Last year he had the help of CM Punk. As much as I love Brock Lesnar, he does not share the same capability to carry someone to a great match. That really showed last night. The bout was slow, lumbersome and entirely boring. It must rank high in the list of his worst matches at Wrestlemania! I know that he is getting up there and really can’t do what he used to, but only one year ago he still had the best match on the show. It’s hard to imagine going from best to worst in twelve months, but that seemed to be the case.
It has since been rumoured that Taker actually suffered a concussion midway through the match, thus making it even more difficult for him to produce at a high standard. Perhaps Shawn Michaels could have helped pick up the slack, but Brock surely couldn’t. Matters were made infinitely worse when a routine third F-5 of the match defeated The Deadman and broke the streak. I don’t think a single soul in the arena actually believed that the referees hand would hit the mat a third time, but it did. It has been widely rumoured online that the concussed Taker was actually supposed to kick out here, and that the ending was botched. That suggestion has been reputed by many experts, but to be honest, I wish that were the case. Perhaps they could then figure out a way to reverse the decision and arrange a rematch or something.
The Streak has been the main selling point of Wrestlemania! for at least the last five years. 22 of the 30 events have featured an Undertaker match. He has been a loyal stalwart to the company, an outstanding competitor and last night I think we saw his final match. I would have no problem with that, if he had won. But to end the streak and subsequently illegitimise the man’s legacy for the sake of enhancing Brock Lesnar just doesn’t sit well with me. As I said before, I really like the guy – let that be known. However, he is a part timer, a man well into his thirties, and one of the top stars in the company. The only positive that could ever come from breaking the streak would be to put over an up-and-coming young star on the way out the door. That’s old school, and that’s beneficial.
It is widely accepted that the decision to break the streak would have been authorized – if not constructed – by Undertaker himself. I have to say, if that is the case, that he was wrong and should have been stopped. If I were in control at WWE, I would have made it no win, no match. Why destroy such a huge cash cow? They could have picked Cesaro, Big E, Roman Reigns, Bray Wyatt, the list goes on. Young guys with bags of determination and a love for the business. The company is overflowing with them right now. Let one of those guys defeat The Deadman at Wrestlemania! and you guarantee yourself a marquee main event superstar and a well of money for the next decade. Letting a part time UFC star come in and beat your phenom, before he returns to The Octagon – after a quick laughing detour to the bank – is not smart business. I don’t see how that argument holds any weight.
As you can probably tell, I wasn’t a big fan of this match, and I definitely wasn’t a big fan of the controversial – pointless and destructive – result. I guess that’s the end of The Undertaker’s career. We will have to wait and see.
The “Vickie Guerrero” Divas Championship Invitiational
I always feel sorry for the ladies at Wrestlemania! They are sent out there to act as a buffer between two huge main event matches. They offer an oppurtuity for a toilet break or a trip to the concession stand. That feeling was all the more prevalent this year. The entire arena was devestated, having seen their childhood hero defeated and the most significant thing in wrestling ended in front of their eyes. Tough act to follow? You could say that. It was hard to focus on such a shambolic affair. All thirteen girls rolled around on the floor in a huge mash of bodies. At one point, there were more than three attempted pinfalls happening at once. Somehow a bit of space opened up in there eventually and The Bella Twins looked set to battle it out amongst themselves. That was until AJ Lee miraculously reappeared on the scene and locked her fatal Black Widow submission move onto a helpless Naomi and scored a somewhat surprising victory. It seemed fairly obvious that her lengthy – albeit irrelevant – reign as Divas Champion was set to come to an end, but she continues on her road to greatness. What lies around the corner for her? Do I honestly need to pretend to care? Do you care? I’m sure you don’t.
Randy Orton(c) v Batista v Daniel Bryan (Triple Threat Match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship)
This was WWE’s chance to calm down the hoardes of furious fans in attendance. After witnessing Undertaker’s defeat earlier in the night, I told my friend next to me that I would honestly no longer watch anymore if Bryan didn’t get the win here. That would be too much bullshit to swallow in one night. Will I be able to keep watching going forward? We will get to that. Firstly I’d like to say how impressed I was with the match. Bryan was going out there for the second time after his gruelling encounter with The Game at the start of the show. I still expected him to carry the bout and pull off another excellent performance – and he did – but I have to say, the other two guys contributed just as much to this main event.
I actually thought Batista had a really good match, and Orton was great too. They were both vicious! One of the most memorable moments of the night came when the two of them combined to hit a Batsta Bomb and RKO simultaneously through the announce table. All three of these guys deserve praise for ending the show so strongly. The story of the match was told perfectly too. Triple H and Stephanie returned to the scene to try and stack the deck against Bryan some more. The sledgehammer made an appearance. Bryan was wheeled half way up the ramp on a stretcher. They even brought out the infamous crooked referee Scott Armstrong to really make you wonder. But when it was all said and done, no matter what they threw at him, Daniel Bryan overcame and tapped out Batista to finally conquer The Authority and become the new World Champion. It was the perfect way to end a perfectly built up feud. The booking of this match deserves a lot of props because every possible thing that could be done to make you believe that Bryan couldn’t win was done. Nonetheless, you still kinda knew he would.
Overall, I have to give Wrestlemania! a thumbs up. I thought it was an excellent show and probably one of the best of it’s kind. The last few have been a bit disappointing and it’s always difficult to live up to the huge hype that always proceeds it, but this year The Showcase of the Immortals really pulled it out the bag. The controversial ending of the streak will have been complaining – and rightly so – for some time, but when you look at the whole picture, it was a pleasure to watch. We saw the three biggest names in the history of the business open the show together, young bucks like Cesaro, Bray Wyatt and The Shield look strong in victory and defeat, and Daniel Bryan finally did what everyone has been willing him to do for over six months. It’s hard to stay positive after what happened with The Undertaker, but it’s also hard to dismiss how great an event Wrestlemania! was overall.
All images sourced from WWE.com
Thanks for reading,