For months now, we’ve been building to the grandest stage of them all; the 30th annual Wrestlemania. Finally, the clock has struck zero. The time for talk is done, and the time for creating special moments…begins now. I’ll get right to the show. The pre-show match saw the Usos retain their Tag Titles over the Real Americans in the final fall, in a match that also included Ryback/Axel and Los Matadores. This was a very solid, fast-paced outing, that the crowd was very energetic for. The Usos are very underrated workers and always bring it, and the crowd desperately wanted to see Cesaro stand out. After the match, Cesaro turns on Swagger, thus ending the Real Americans tag team.
The PPV show’s opening segment was a promo between Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin, and the Rock. I don’t mind at all that this opened the show and went nearly a half hour. It was an homage to Wrestlemania’s past, where the three biggest names in wrestling history talked about…well…themselves. This flew by and was a well-done nostalgia act. Nothing in terms of storylines, but surely the coolest promo in Mania history! HHH vs. Daniel Bryan was up next, and it was actually my match of the night. This may have been HHH’s best match in the last 5 years, to be honest. The psychology was great, as HHH worked over Bryan’s injured arm and shoulder, and Bryan sold and fought from underneath. Basic wrestling-101 at its best. Both men pulled out things we’ve never seen from them in recent memory, and Bryan got the clean pin after his running knee. HHH attacks after, making Bryan a further underdog in the World Title three-way later. Every fan should seek out this incredible display of pacing and storytelling.
The Shield vs. New Age Outlaws/Kane was next, and it only went about 2-3 minutes. The Shield ran around like Redbull induced gorillas, hitting all their spots, in what essentially was the best squash in Mania history. Seeing your three bright young stars destroy three legendary acts from the famed “Attitude Era” is a HUGE rub for them, and a big kudos to this new generation of WWE talent. This was everything you’d ever want a squash to be. The Andre The Giant battle royal was next, and it was also very solid. Kofi again found a cool athletic way to avoid elimination, Ziggler again got tossed around like a rag doll, and Cesaro again proved why he’s the strongest man in WWE. The ending saw another amazing Wrestlemania moment when Cesaro body-slams the 7+ foot, 500+ pound Big Show over the top rope to win. Not to be a prisoner of the moment here, but this looked way cooler than Hogan’s iconic slam on Andre 27 years ago, and will be shown until the end of time. Simply amazing!
Cena vs. Wyatt is next, and it’s a very different type of match. Normally at Wrestlemania, we see everyone go out and throw out all of their amazing spots and finishing moves. This one was rife with human psychology and mind games. The match started slow and a little plodding, but really picked up well at the end. Bray Wyatt continued his creepy character mannerisms that “scared” Cena, and we saw Cena sell the idea that he had to hold back from wanting to destroy Wyatt with weapons. The facial expressions and last 5 minutes of this are great. Cena gets the win after a second AA. That decision is the wrong one (in my opinion), but it doesn’t impact this great match or historic night.
Taker vs. Lesnar is next, and this was the only match I didn’t like. Lesnar still hasn’t improved his recklessness in the ring after all this time, and Taker clearly looked like it was time for him to retire. Both men looked very winded very early, and a lot of their big moves came out either predictable or sloppy. To be fair, it was reported that Taker suffered a concussion early in this match, and relied on Lesnar to carry him the entire time. The big moment here came when Lesnar his Taker with the third F5 of the match, pinning him. YES, you read that right. In what was a confusing and angering moment for most everyone, LESNAR ENDED THE STREAK. I suppose one of the worst Taker Mania matches of all time did its job anyway, as the stunned crowd made for great GIF internet images, and Lesnar is now the biggest heel in the company.
AJ retained her Divas Title in a 14 diva cluster that wasn’t actually as unbearable as it sounds. The crowd was dead (due to the match before it), but these ladies all tried and gave a solid effort. Then came the main event, Orton vs. Batista vs. Bryan for the World Title. This one started slow as well, but won the crowd back about halfway through. This is actually my second favorite match of the show, as all three guys had some great brawling moments on the outside and showed an unmatched level of physicality. All three stepped it up here, big time, but this one was about Bryan’s journey to the top. Despite HHH and company trying to screw him, and nearly being stretcher out of the match, Bryan hits his knee and wins the belt, to close the show with pyro and confetti in his celebration.
Overall, this was one of the best Wrestlemanias of all time. The entire show told a story, and every single match had some sort of shocker or memorable moment. Everyone worked hard, and several matches (Bryan’s two and the Cena/Wyatt match) are must-see. They did a nice job using the older talent, and focused the night on making new stars. In perhaps the biggest night in the companies history, guys like the Shield, Cesaro, Wyatt, and Bryan capitalized on being center-stage and became main event level talent. Until the next opening bell, valued readers…