Hey, it’s Wrestlemania! It’s the Wrestlemania of wrestling!
So the big one is here. And because it’s a BIG ONE we have to have a BIG pre-show. For two hours. And by telling us we’d get two matches on the pre-show, they tricked us into watching Booker T for a whole hour without any matches at all, the bastards. Booker fucking T. Hey, Backstage Renee looked good. Corey Graves & Byron Saxton were there, too.
They threw in a few skits, like Eden Stiles (am I the only one who pronounces that in my head as “Stee-lez”?) trying to interview HHH and getting Kane – we all know how that feels – and J&J Security bumping into the original goons, Pat Patterson & Gerald Brisco. Oh, and Tom Phillips – who will forever be cursed to be thought of as Todd Phillips, for some reason – was alone in the Social Media Lounge. How ironic.
The second hour of the pre-show kicked off with a match. Surely if you are having matches on the pre-show then it’s part of the show? Anyway, it’s the WWE Tag Team Title Match, a four-way. With four other men/women/minitaurs at ringside. Should be a straightforward match…
The Usos (and Naomi) came out first, and their entrance was a bit lost amongst the daylight and open air stadium. They were wearing identical facepaint so I cleverly surmised that Jey was still injured and that Jimmy would pretend to be both of them and work the whole match. How stupid did I look when Jey got “re-injured” and Jimmy worked the whole match? Yeah.
Los Matadores (and el Torito) were out next, and they looked particularly natty in new red & white outfits. Also wearing new gear were The New Day, all neon green instead of baby blue – maybe they’re winning? Oh, it was Kofi Kingston & Big E doing the wrestling, so Xavier Woods had to hang out with the women and other smaller creatures.
Last out were the champions, Tyson Kidd & Cesaro (and Natalya). Natalya came dressed as Aunty Entity from Beyond Thunderdome.
So they had a match, and it was a fucking mess. Imagine someone who’s never seen Ring Of Honor’s idea of Ring Of Honor and you’re about there.
It was all SPOT! MOVE! SPOT! MOVE! and at some point I genuinely lost track of – and interest in – who were the legal men in the ring. Tyson Kidd & Cesaro won when Cesaro pinned Big E. No big move, he just pinned him.
Back in the Social Media Lounge, Tom (Todd) Phillips had someone with him at last – Lita. She immediately earned my ire by having her feet up on the sofa, shoes and all. Disgusting. She looked really good – retirement agrees with her.
Tom (Todd) fed her questions from the WWE Universe, but not one was about el Dandy, which made me sad.
They did more panel stuff and then it was time for pre-show match number two – the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal!
Okay, I’m going to try and list the competitors from memory: Alex Riley, Hideo Itami, Konnor, Viktor, Heath Slater, Zack Ryder, Goldust, Bo Dallas, The Big Show, Kane, The Ryback, Erick Rowan, Cesaro, Tyson Kidd, Jimmy Uso, Big E, Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods, Titus O’Neill, Darren Young, Jack Swagger. How many is that? Twenty-one? I thought there were only twenty in it? Have I missed anyone? Oh, yeah: The Miz, Mizdow, Diego, Fernando, Sin Cara, Adam Rose, Fandango, Mark Henry and – irony of ironies – Curtis Axel. I’m a terrible fan.
So, yeah, this thirty man battle royal kicked off with Curtis Axel demonstrating the power of #AxelMania and then getting dumped out by the rest of the ring. The crowd did not like it but why should you give the crowd what they want in a match that means less than fucking nothing, eh?
They continued in this vein by having The Big Show & Kane re-illustrate what “X-Pac heat” means in 2015 by dumping out people that fans care about. And then, once Mizdow had completed his turn against The Miz, having The Big Show – THE BIG SHOW! – win by dumping Mizdow over the top rope. Bah.
And that was your pre-show! Is it too late to demand a refund? What am I talking about – I’m sure the rest of the show will be ALL about elevating new talent…
Hey, it’s a bunch of ladders! But first, Aloe Blacc sang the national anthem of ‘Murica. He did a fair job. Lilian Garcia wept, silently.
So, yeah, ladders! It’s the WWE Intercontinental Title Match – and the title belt was hung high above the ring, ready for a bunch of men to forget how to climb a ladder in trying to grab it!
First out was Daniel Bryan, wearing a new t-shirt, and clearly having the time of his life. Good lad. Next out, because champions, was Wade Barrett. And then Dolph Ziggler came out, causing fevered discussion all over the world about whether he’d cut his hair or simply cornrowed it (the latter, fashion fans!).
Stardust came out, dressed as Mr Sinister off of the X-Men, and then Luke Harper came out in a tartan jacket with the names of his opponents stitched on and crossed through. Effort! R-Truth came out, but sadly didn’t rap, and then finally Dean Ambrose came down to the ring in sunglasses, and a black vest, looking all cool and shit. He launched into Wade Barrett and the match was on.
So I hate ladder matches. I spend half the time eye-rolling at the contrived spots they’ve engineered themselves (slowly) into and the rest of the time wincing at the damage their causing to each other’s frail flesh sacks. But you know what? This was great.
It ran at a fast pace without seeming too rushed, and allowed you to absorb what was going on. What’s more, Dolph Ziggler was the first man EVER in a ladder match to remember how to climb a ladder at anything other than glacial pace.
Yeah, there were some horrible bumps – Stardust superplexed off a tall ladder and Ambrose powerbombed through two ladders at ringside – but it was (mostly) safely-worked. And Barrett got in some great bullhammers.
Daniel Bryan got the win but headbutting Dolph Ziggler off the top of the ladder and grabbing the belt, and the optimist in me hopes the booking committee have been watching Shinsuke Nakamura on New Japan on AXS TV, and will elevate the belt to almost at the level of the main title. Hope springs eternal.
It was about this point that I started to get annoyed at that prat from Grimsby who is always at these shows. Yeah, we get it, you like Grimsby Town FC. Now fuck off.
They showed a promo video for the WWE’s new partnership with TapOut clothing. You know, TapOut – favoured clothing brand of supermarket-own brand energy drink fans everywhere. I once saw three generations of the same family wearing TapOut in a Burger King in Poole. I know how to live. It’s coming in 2016, which is, like, a year away. I’ll have forgotten by then.
Hey, it’s Seth Rollins! He’s got his natty new gear on and he looks cool. He’s in black and gold, as is Jamie Noble. Joey Mercury is not, and must be silently hating on them.
Rollins came down to the ring, and was soon joined by Randy Orton, who – in his trademark bare chest and tiny pants – looked to be wearing far too little for the blazing sunshine pouring down on the stadium.
They had a match, and it was a really good match. And it had a fucking great ending when Orton played possum for a kerb stomp attempt and rose up, flipping Rollins into the air and hitting the RKO when he came down. It looked AMAZING. So, yeah, Orton won, and that’s him and Rollins done now, right?
They showed Ronda Rousey and the rest of the Four Horsewomen (they’re UFC fighters, in case you didn’t know) at ringside, enjoying the show. My pal Jake, who’s a MASSIVE Rousey fan, stepped out to use the facilities and missed her. Sucks to be him.
Some Japanese fellas came out and played some drums. They were all in Sting facepaint, except for one old fella who clearly wasn’t having any of it. One of the drums was HUGE. Biggest drum I’ve ever seen. That’s something I wasn’t expecting Wrestlemania to provide.
Sting came out and walked to the ring. Quite a thing, really – Sting in a WWE match. If only he hadn’t retired fourteen years ago when WCW went out of business…
After that, the world got destroyed. Cities were blown up and nothing survived except robots. One of those robots was HHH, at least until he wasn’t and was a robot killer instead. Look, if you didn’t see it, go and watch HHH’s entrance. For some people it was amazing and brilliant and those people are clearly quite demented because it was hilarious and awful.
They had a stare down and then got it on. Oh, it was announced before the match that it could only be won by pinfall or submission – a clever way of telling us that shenanigans were afoot.
They had a slow-paced but decent match until Sting had HHH set up for the Scorpion Death Drop and DX’s music played! X-Pac, Road Dogg & Billy Gunn (who was wearing luminous green trainers) ran down and Sting fought them off.
Having thrown them all out of the ring, Sting went up top and splash onto them. Sting rolled HHH back into the ring but Billy Gunn, shoes a-glowing, interfered, which gave HHH time to recover and set Sting up for the Pedigree. Guess whose music played before he could hit it?
If you guessed Goldberg, or DDP, or even fucking Glacier – because they were solid WCW guys, right? – then you’re as big an idiot as I am because out came the nWo. Yes, the nWo: three men who’ve worked on-and-off for WWE over the last fourteen years, and who hated Sting and WCW when they were there, anyway. Pft, forget all that – this is mark-out time!
The nWo and DX had a brawl, and Scott Hall took a back bump which made us all fear for his continued existence on this mortal coil. Kevin Nash also appeared to tear his hamstring but later he was walking fine. That Nash, always working us.
As they were brawling, Sting put HHH in the Scorpion Death Lock and almost looked to have the match won by submission when Shawn Michaels appeared out of nowhere and superkicked Sting. HHH got a nearfall and Michaels looked shocked!
Both men grabbed their weapons and went at it, with Sting breaking HHH’s sledgehammer in two with his baseball bat. HHH, though, managed to club Sting with the head of the sledgehammer and cover him for the win.
After the match, both groups helped up their respective representatives and HHH extended his hand. Sting, despite being CLUBBED IN THE HEAD BY A SLEDGEHAMMER, shook it and they were best pals.
This was tons of fun. There was no logical reason for HHH to win, so of course he did. Why make the fans happy, eh? Broken record. But, that aside, it was a great nostalgia-fest, the likes of which All-Japan used to put on every show. Learning from the greats.
They announced some new shows coming to the WWE Network: WWE versions of Muppet Babies, Punked, and Tarrant on TV. Oh, and – in a move which will surely please fans of legitimate women wrestlers and #GiveDivasAChance – a new Divas Search. Here’s hoping someone gets called a “cum-guzzling slut” again!
Backstage, Maria Menounos, who I always thought was married to Shane McMahon for some odd reason, interviewed Daniel Bryan. She was wearing a Bushwhackers t-shirt which led to some obvious – and funny – Twitter jokes.
Bryan was STOKED to have won the Intercontinental Championship, and looked like he could just retire right there and then when he was joined by Pat Patterson, Roddy Piper, Ricky Steamboat, Ric Flair, and Bret Hart to celebrate his win.
Ron Simmons turned up, and Maria pointed out he’d never won the Intercontinental title and he replied with the loudest “DAMN!” you ever heard. Poor Maria jumped out of her skin.
Incidentally, and talking of things I assumed to be true, I was really caught off-guard by the appearance of Ted DiBiase on a clip from Axxess. Because I thought he was dead. That ever happen to you?
Back at the show, and it was time to go and get some drinks and snacks. Yes, it was the musical interlude. Skylar Grey (no, me either) began singing and I said to my pals, “I know this song!” And indeed I did, because they’d been playing it on WWE TV for weeks. Dim bulb, me.
Anyway, household name Skylar was out there with Kid Ink (*shrug*) and Travis Barker, who is a drum guy for Blink 182. They did that song and some white people danced.
People were still getting concessions when the next match started and most of them didn’t bother rushing back. Because it was the Divas.
They’ve improved of late, these Divas matches. But they’re still nowhere near what would be an acceptable level if they were men. Which is sad. When I watch AAA, the top women there are matched with – and can go with – the mid-card men, and it doesn’t seem odd or wrong at all. Maybe one day, eh?
Hey, it’s Paige! Some wag on Twitter joked that they sent her out because her pale skin would absorb all the sunlight ready for The Undertaker’s entrance, but that wag is obviously not funny at all, even if it did make me laugh.
AJ Lee was out next, and it’s so nice to see the WWE catering for the hebephile crowd. The Bellas came out last, and together, because sisters.
So they had a match and it was okay, if you don’t mind long periods where one of the babyfaces plays dead while the other begs for a tag. Remember when Robert Gibson lay unconscious and Ricky Morton couldn’t tag him in?
Anyway, AJ won the match for her team by submitting Brie Bella with the Black Widow and Paige mouthed a “thank you” to AJ after the match for some odd reason.
The announcers told us that they’d fed all the details of the main-eventers into a super-computer to come up with a tale of the tape that a child could have scrawled with a crayon on a slice of bread. I ask you.
They introduced all the people who’d gone into the Hall of Fame the night before. Everyone looked really happy to be there – even Lanny “Pofo” – and that’s not me being a shitty smark for once. Kevin Nash was introduced last and came out and looked genuinely humbled.
Things took a dark, militaristic – and awesome – turn next, when some sinister Russian soldiers marched beautiful Lana down to the ring, carrying Russian flags, and guns, and all that shit. It was terribly impressive.
Then Rusev appeared. On a fucking TANK. Oh my days.
Before John Cena came out, they played a montage of ‘Murican things. We didn’t get to see most of it because the stream buffered, but I assume it was VERY PATRIOTIC. As an aside, Cena’s comedy patriotic turn on Jimmy Kimmel was AWESOME, and much better than this hokey shit.
Cena came down to the ring and Eden Stiles was about to introduce him when Rusev DEMANDED he be introduced first. Stiles did the job, and then introduced Cena. Cena, representing the whole nation of ‘Murica against this evil Russian shitbastard, got nothing but boos. Lana, on the other hand, was hella over. WELCOME TO WRESTLEMANIA!
This was the match I was most looking forward to before the show and it didn’t deliver in that respect. But it was a decent contest and didn’t disappoint, even if the ending was a little, erm, off.
Yes, Cena was always going to win this one. Because it’s Wrestlemania and it’s ‘Murica and SPOILER: I WIN. But I hoped that it wouldn’t be so conclusive and that they’d keep the feud alive.
As it was, Cena won with the Attitude Adjustment after Rusev had knocked Lana off the apron. Yeah, there’s some room for arguing that Rusev might have won without Lana out there – and that’s how I’d go, with a cage match re-match at Extreme Rules next month – but it was still a bit off.
After the match, Rusev ranted at an upset Lana and stomped off without her. The queue to help her get over this broken heart starts here and ends on Mars. Incidentally, if you see those shoes Lana was wearing up on eBay, give my pal Jake a shout. I assume he wants them for honourable purposes.
They threw back up to the pre-show panel, who were still up in the top of the stadium, where a force nine gale was still blowing. They showed highlights from the pre-show.
Back in the ring, HHH & Stephanie came out. Did Raw start early? They said they’d broken a record for Levi’s Stadium – “the field of Jeans” – with a crowd that my pal John estimated was a thousand over capacity. Someone call the fire department!
They then turned heel on the crowd and said they owned everything and everyone in the WWE and in that stadium. Out came The Rock, because why not.
The Rock took an age to say anything, soaking in the adoration of the crowd to annoying levels. Don’t get me wrong, I love The Rock. He’s a once-in-a-generation MEGASTAR, and possibly the greatest “sports entertainer” of all time. But that doesn’t mean he can’t get tiring. Especially when you’ve got an eye on time left remaining for the last two matches.
Anyway, The Rock told them they DID NOT own the people and they sure as hell didn’t own The Rock. He said he was a local – Hawaii, Florida, wherever, I guess. He said HHH had two choices – either he goes back and dresses like The Terminator again, or they create a Wrestlemania moment right here.
HHH got in The Rock’s face and told him he had nothing to prove. He started to leave and The Rock called him back, saying HHH had left his balls in Connecticut. HHH removed his jacket, ready to fight, but Stephanie stepped in.
She did her usual schtick, trying to cut The Rock’s balls off, and talked about the McMahons and the Johnsons, and The Rock said that was funny because she wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t for Vince McMahon’s johnson. Ace.
She slapped him and asked him if he was going to hit a women, and ordered him out of the ring. The Rock complied, but instead of leaving the arena, he walked around ringside to where Ronda Rousey was sat.
Rousey hopped the guard rail and got into the ring with The Rock. The crowd chanted, “Ronda’s gonna kill you!” at Stephanie, and The Rock told her that he would never hit a woman, but he had a very good friend who would be happy to.
Stephanie tried to play it cool, insisting she & Rousey were friends, becoming more panicked with every lack of confirmation from Rousey. Then, because she’s a McMahon, she got all bullish, and ordered Rousey out of her ring. She said Rousey may rule the octagon, but this was the squared circle.
Rousey told Stephanie that any ring she steps into is hers, and The Rock warned Stephanie that if she didn’t step back Rousey would reach down her throat and play jump rope with her fallopian tubes.
HHH said that that was the last thing The Rock was going to say about his wife and The Rock agreed, and then attacked him. Rousey then dumped HHH out of the ring before gently barring Stephanie’s arm and dragging her around the ring.
Stephanie escaped and she & HHH looked hurt and embarrassed on the ramp as The Rock & Ronda Rousey celebrated in the ring. This was long but good. I want a tag match now.
Interestingly, after this, Rousey was not in her ringside seat for the rest of the show. Well, she had just attacked one of the principle owners of the company…
The Rock Show had eaten enough time for it to be kind of dark(ish) for the next match, and Bray Wyatt came out to his relaxing music. That’s just what I want from my wrestling heroes – ambience. I kid, I love that song.
Wyatt was surrounded by scarecrows, and as he walked to the ring he woke them with his healing touch, like a fat Michael Jackson in that “Earth Song” video where he was Jesus.
Wyatt waited in the ring and called out The Undertaker, who was preceded – like John Holmes – by his dong. When The Undertaker appeared two things were apparent: first, he didn’t look as bad as people expected, and not even as bad as last year. And second, he still look so very, very human.
And that was how the story of the match was told. The wasn’t the Phenom’ any longer – he was a human man, whose standard moves and finishers no longer gained the instant results they would have in years before. It was quite the thing to watch, and it made for a fascinating match. Right up until the finish.
Now you’ll have to bear with me at this point. For me The Undertaker stopped being relevant and entertaining when he started pretending to be a UFC fighter. Then I had that long period away and I didn’t give him a second thought. I heard the shock as he lost to Lesnar at last year’s Wrestlemania and shrugged. Has-been, at best.
So, a further year down the line, and with ZERO appearances since, he’s lesser – in my eyes – that he was twelve months ago. And, while smarter people than me argued that losing to The Undertaker wouldn’t hurt Bray Wyatt, I couldn’t see an ounce of good it would do him, either.
And that was before we got to see this mortal man, all too corporeal and flawed. Of course, we thought, this is the way it will go down – Bray Wyatt beats The Undertaker. Not The Undertaker of old, but The Undertaker still, and the New Face Of Fear rises.
One. Two. Three. Pinned, by a shadow of the Dead Man, what’s left for Bray Wyatt? In a company short on serious heels – and having already seen Rollins & Rusev lose earlier in the night – they sent another plummeting into the abyss…
It wasn’t a bad match. It was slow, and that fitted the mood. But it was entirely the wrong result for anything other than an on-the-night feel-good moment. A pattern emerges.
Hey, it’s our main event! It’s WWE Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar versus the challenger, Roman Reigns!
Reigns made his way down to the ring first, from his usual place opposite the hard-cam. He was given a very good lesson in why everyone else uses the ramp when he had to shove a fat guy out of his way and had several others pushing his head. He did not look like he was enjoying himself.
Lesnar came out bouncing. His pyro went off out of sync with his gestures. Little things. Heyman looked like the cat who got the cream, ate the cream, burped the cream, and had a lovely after-cream nap.
The crowd cheered Lesnar loudly and booed Reigns, although not as enthusiastically as they might have done. Apathy.
Lilian Garcia performed the introductions, Mike Chioda held up the belt, and the match was on.
From the off Reigns went after Lesnar, and bloodied his eye, but Lesnar hit a massive German suplex on the blue(brown)-eyed boy. He then threw him around like a ragdoll for an F5 but opted not to cover him for the pin. Instead, he stood, looking cruel and cool.
Reigns attempted a comeback, but Lesnar hit him with suplexes, declaring, “Suplex city, bitch!” That’s a t-shirt, right there. Boos rang out as Reigns tried another comeback, but Lesnar suplexed him again. Reigns smiled and got another suplex.
Reigns got up again so Lesnar kneed him in the tummy and suplexed him on the top rope, before knocking him off the apron to the floor. Lesnar charged at Reigns again but Reigns seemed to get a knee up, which stunned Lesnar.
Reigns made a small comeback but Lesnar clotheslined him down again, his eye swelling. Lesnar dragged Reigns back into the ring and then suplexed him out of it again. He suplexed him back in, and Reigns looked out cold.
Never one to err on the side of caution, Lesnar F5’d Reigns again and covered him, but Reigns kicked out, leading to a smirk from Lesnar, who took off his gloves.
Lesnar stood over Reigns, slapping him across the face. Reigns got up and started smiling through bloodied teeth. Lesnar picked him up and suplexed him twice, and then hit another F5. He covered Reigns, who kicked out, and the crowd booed because three F5’s was enough to beat The Undertaker’s streak last year.
Lesnar dumped Reigns on the outside and went after him but Reigns ran him into the ringpost, where Lesnar’s forehead looked like it hit a wire. Busted wide open. Blood poured down Lesnar’s head as Reigns rolled into the ring. Lesnar followed on a count of nine.
Lesnar stood up, legs wobbling, and Reigns hit a Superman punch. He hit another and Lesnar stumbled. Another would have taken Lesnar down but he ducked. Reigns headbutted him and hit that third punch. Lesnar wobbled some more and Reigns finally took him down with a spear.
Lesnar recovered and Reigns hit a second spear and made the cover. Lesnar kicked out just before the three count, and got up to hit another F5. Suddenly, Seth Rollins’s music hit…
Rollins ran down to the ring, carrying his Money In The Bank briefcase, and told the referee he was cashing in. Confusion seemed to reign over whether he could but eventually Lilian Garcia made the announcement that the match was now a Triple Threat – first man to pin someone was your winner!
Rollins dumped Reigns out of the ring and hit a kerb stomp on Lesnar. Lesnar came back to life and picked Rollins up for an F5 but Reigns appeared out of nowhere and hit him with a spear. Rollins rolled Lesnar aside, hit a kerb stomp on Reigns, and made the pin to become the NEW WWE HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION!
After the match, Rollins escaped up the ramp with his belt and celebrated. Fireworks exploded, and that’s your show.
The main event was a curious match. It wasn’t an orthodox title match, but we’re learning that latter day Brock Lesnar matches seldom are. It achieved the result of keeping things fresh and unpredictable, without the feared backlash of putting the belt on Reigns.
This was a Great Show. Despite the booking issues – which are major and puzzling – it delivered on a very basic level of providing four hours of entertainment with very little drag.
It’s clear that, whatever WWE’s shortcomings in other areas, they can still produce that special moment, that memorable night, even if just once a year. Now to work on the rest!