For the last number of months the WWE has done just about everything against what their Universe seemingly wanted of them. Whether it be putting over other stars that the fans hate or just failing to deliver on story line build ups the folks behind the scenes at WWE were floundering. They seemed to be knowing so little that they even hijacked a natural, grass roots created backing of Daniel Bryan and turned it into the a story arch. Let me just say that after Wrestlemania, they made it pay off.
The once a year spectacle was upon us. The Big Easy has welcome the Universe into it’s city and was preparing for one hell of a card. The two hour pre-show on the WWE Network got a little boring at times. I can deal with these shows for about 30 minutes, hell I’ll give you an hour, but this was painful at times. Luckily there was a match to save us from too much time with Josh Matthews, Booker T and their revolving door of panelists.
Speaking of the panelists they had Shawn Michaels, who each time he does these I don’t know if he is trying to play a pompous asshole character or if that is really who he is. Jimmy Hart was rough. He spoke in clichés most of the time and went on to predict Ryback to with the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal (man that thing is long), when Ryback wasn’t even going to be in the match. You would think someone would have given him a list of competitors in the event so he could pick someone. Alex Riley was there, and that’s about all I can say. Trish Stratus was actually a pleasant surprise and a welcome change. I’ve always liked Trish and it continued here. She always spoke well and showed knowledge and respect of her craft. Remember when the Divas with the most skill were also the top of the card for the ladies? Too bad Natty wasn’t born earlier. But despite all the recycled phrases about the same matches over and over, we got a match.
The WWE Tag Team Titles were on the line as Rikishi’s kids, the Usos, took on Rybaxel (Ryback & Curtis Axel), Los Matadores (Primo & Epico….errr I mean…let’s just go with Primo & Epico) and the Real Americans (Jack Swagger & Cesaro). Moments before the match the stipulation was changed from a single fall, four team match to an elimination match. The Real Americans looked strong early on. They made short work of the Colons….I mean Los Matadores….and Rybaxel (poor Joe Hennig). Eventually the Usos picked up the win after stereo super kicks and top rope splashes on Cesaro (sans Antonio). Post match, Swagger showed frustration with Cesaro taking the fall and attempted the Patriot Lock on Cesaro before Uncle Zeb stepped in and demanded they hug it out. This led to a big Cesaro Swing on Swagger and a face turn for Cesaro which made the crowd, including a huge “Cesaro Section” quite happy. Luckily for us fans of big C this would not be the last we see of him.
Now it’s time for the main show, cue the introduction videos and pyro Steve. Steve is what I imagine the guy who handles all that is named. We start things off with Hogan making his way to the ring. If Gorilla Monsoon were still around the place would have been going bananas or the roof would have literally been blown off the building. Good times. But Hogan did receive quite a huge pop. Little did he know that he would soon be the running joke of the entire show. We get our obligatory “You know something brother” and the Hulkster then begins fumbling over his words. This led to him accidentally calling the Superdome the Silverdome before the fans let him know about his flub. He then mispronounced Paul Orndorff’s name. Luckily he was cut off by shattering glass and we got , by god, Stone Cold Steve Austin. After a minute of Steve feigning he is going to kick Hogan’s ass Austin turns it into a promo about how important Hogan was to the industry. He would be remiss if he didn’t do a call back to Hogan’s Superdome flub. We are then treated to the Rock’s music hitting and his 10 minute walk to the ring. I’m fairly certain Iron Sheik could have made it to the ring faster and he wouldn’t even play to the crowd. The three share the middle of the ring, Rock does some rhymes and they share some beers. A really nice nostalgic moment but the length this took got me thinking that a match was going to have to be cut. We’ll see I guess. Michael Cole then announces that Daniel Bryan against Triple H will be the first match.
Triple H has his traditionally grand Wrestlemania entrance that reminded me a lot of Skeletor from Masters of the Universe. Oh yeah, Stephanie is also the one that announced his entrance, ugh. D-Bry comes out looking focused and donned in furry boots, will we get a huss at some point? The match is a nicely paced one with a lot of storytelling being done. Bryan wins clean with the running knee and will go on to be in the main event. But post match Steph comes in a slaps him. This leads to Trips getting some revenge and further working on Bryan’s injured shoulder. They are really going for the against all odds storyline here with Bryan.
Next up we have the second rate Authority members of corporate Kane and the New Age Outlaws against the newly face turned Shield. This one was short so let’s hit the highlights. Roman Reigns Superman Punched a bunch of people. Seth Rollins did a flipping dive to the outside. Dean Ambrose did a Nigel McGuinness rebound clothesline. Triple Powerbomb on both members of NAO at the same time. Short and sweet squash match for the young guns. I’ll allow it!
Backstage Sgt. Slaughter and Hacksaw are playing with toys as Danny Davis oversees things. Ricky Steamboat shows his face. Ted Dibiase buys the toys and Ron Simmons save it all with a “DAMN!”
Back to the ring we have Big Show making his entrance for the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. There is a metric shit ton of people already in the ring. Hey, David Otunga is in there! Remember when he was a thing? Sheamus comes down to the ring and things get under way. Lots of eliminations occur and we start whittling things down. I spy with my little eye Cesaro in there. Hmmm, they just snuck him in there huh? Cody and Goldust are in there, are we finally going to get the start of the Rhodes brothers feud here at Mania? Nope. Kofi Kingston makes another one of his daring saves and I must say that this one was really impressive. I actually thought it was a blown spot to where he got really hurt. But I’m growing tired of his saves. If you aren’t going to have the guy win one eventually what’s the point? We know he will just be eliminated for real a minute later. Final two are Cesaro and Big Show. Cesaro pulls off a big body slam of Show over the top rope for the win. Show shakes his hand and a nice way of getting Cesaro some momentum for his new role. Fans are pretty happy and I’m with them.
Bray Wyatt and family come out to a live rendition of their entrance music after a Voodoo dancing ceremony. It was plenty creepy and I loved every minute of it. Cena is out looking all business. Really good match here with Bray offering himself up as a sacrifice to Cena on a number of occasions. Cena showed internal conflict and even a mean side with a number of vicious attacks on Bray. The fans try to start singing “he’s got the whole world in his hands” but it doesn’t quite catch on. Cena wins clean but Bray came out of this match looking like a star. He took Cena to a limit he had never been before. I for one hope this isn’t the end of their segment as they could do a lot more with it.
We get a look into the previous night’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony. This is followed by the tradition of Howard Finkel announcing the inductees live to the crowd. Jake Roberts, Mr. T, Carlos Colon, Lita (still looking hot), Paul Bearer (represented by his sons, the real ones), Razor Ramon and The Ultimate Warrior all wave to the crowd and smile. Applause all around.
It’s time to fight for the Streak. Brock and Heyman are out followed by a nice, eerie Undertaker entrance that includes caskets marked for each previous “victim.” Taker has an old Southern style get up including a take on his traditional hat. I for one am happy to not see the hood. Lights come up, Taker removes his hat and Brock has a dumbfounded look on his face. Not one of Taker’s best technical matches in recent years but he made do with what he had. Brock isn’t exactly a ring general like Shawn, Triple H and Punk. We got a big rest period where Taker got Brock in the gogoplata a couple times and this was followed with big false finishes on both sides. Eventually Brock hits the F5 for the third time in the match and scores the out of nowhere three count. My friend and I let out simultaneous holy shits and watched as the dome went silent. Did it really happen? Cut to faces of the crowd members. Oh this black guy’s stunned reaction will be a meme soon. A 21-1 graphic takes over the entire arena. Heyman and Brock sell shock at first and then it turns to “yeah we knew that would happen, right?” Taker slowly gets up to a deafening applause and makes his way up the ramp and through the curtain.
In my opinion this was the wrong call having Taker lose his first Mania match to a part time wrestler. I was beginning to think that if they didn’t have Punk beat him last year they will just never end the Streak. The only point of ending it is to give the rub to a younger guy. Brock isn’t young and isn’t a full time member of the roster. It’s stuff like this that made Punk quit.
But I will give WWE credit on one thing. They sure as hell surprised us. I don’t think a single person saw this coming. Now there is word out there that Taker very recently decided to retire and WWE quickly decided to give Brock the win because they already had the match set up. If true I wonder what made Taker decide that so close to Mania. Additionally there are reports that Taker was taken to the hospital after the match for injures. Storyline or truth? I will certainly be watching Raw tonight to find out.
And it’s Divas clusterfuck time. AJ makes her way to the ring with all the opponents already in the ring. Vickie says some things and we are under way. The ring is cleared out pretty quickly and we get a number of spots all over the place. The Bellas bicker at one and other. Natalya tries to put a Sharpeshooter on 3 Divas, at the same time. Emma looks adorable. Oh yeah and she has a move called the Emma Sandwich. I actually giggled at that. AJ wins against all the odds and continues her long reign. Now she will go get some loving from Punk.
It’s main event time people. Call me a traditionalist but the champion should not be the first one out, even if he’s a heel. Randy Orton comes out to a live performance of his music. This fucking lead singer is trying his damnedest to get himself over. Who are these guys? Batista is out but forgoes his traditional invisible backwards facing machine gun pyro. Bryan is out last and still selling his shoulder injury. The crowd is not nearly as loud as they were for Bryan early on. They are certainly tired. Orton and Batista quickly get Bryan out of their way and spend most of the time fighting each other. Steph and Trips make their way through the crowd (why? They own the fucking company) to the ring. Trips pulls out Mike Chioda as D-Bry has Batista in the Yes Lock. Steve Armstrong enters the picture as the Authority’s hand selected referee to continue the match. Batista gets a 2 count and Bryan kicks Armstrong in the head. Triple H gets his handy dandy sledgehammer and gets to know it up close and personal as Bryan takes it and delivers it to the snoz of the COO. Batista and Orton join forces momentarily to do a Batista Bomb/RKO combo to Bryan through the Spanish announce table. Randy takes a big bump on a monitor that was still on the ground. He looked in legit pain and squirmed around on the ground for a good bit while Bryan sold death. Batista very audibly asked Randy if he’s ok and just stands there for a few minutes as EMTs tend to Bryan and put him on a stretcher. Randy eventually gets up and good ol Dave immediately launches him back first into the guard rail. The stretcher makes it just barely to the ramp when Bryan does the expected. He gets off the stretcher and fights off the EMTs who are just like “Okay, whatever.” Cue the major come back. Bryan hits the running knee on both and eventually gets Big Dave in the Yes Lock who taps out as we get a shot of Orton trying to get back in the ring. YES!
Against all that has been in his path Daniel Bryan wins the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. The celebration begins. We have pyro and a metric shit ton of confetti. Bryan pulls a woman and child from the crowd into the ring with him, probably his sister and niece. Here is a great Wrestlemania moment. It’s crazy to think how I used to see this guy wrestle in gyms and armories in front of a couple hundred people to seeing him in front of 75,000 plus winning the biggest prize on the biggest stage.
Coming out of Mania there is certainly the chance for more storylines. Orton obviously has his rematch clause and he will talk about how he didn’t lose the match. What comes of Taker or even Brock for that matter? Does the Cena/Bray feud continue? Where is Sting? Like most Raws the day after Mania this one shouldn’t disappoint.
In the end, this was one of the best Wrestlemanias I’ve ever seen. It had great matches that had intriguing stories that starred amazing people. The WWE Network even held up pretty well. There were twists as well as obvious moments but they all did what pro wrestling is supposed to do, illicit a response and more importantly entertain. Sure we had some frustrating moments as fans, Mick Foley destroyed his TV due to his frustrations as a fan. But ultimately we got a really good pay off with Wrestlemania 30. And it is cards like this that keep me a wrestling fan.