An event that surprised me, disappointed me in a way or two, but all in all managed to exceed my expectations and capture my imagination as a fan of professional wrestling all over again. We were treated to surprise outcomes, and surprise segments that should be the epitome of what WrestleMania is all about. Let’s get rolling with my thoughts on what I feel is one of the best WrestleMania’s in recent memory.
Three words come to mind when I think of the first match of the night: beautifully executed clusterfuck. There was about three minutes in this opening bout that could be described as coherent in ring action, unfortunately in those opening minutes a move on the outside left Jey Uso injured and he had to be carried to the back (I hope he’s okay). That said, shortly after so much was going on in the ring (and outside of it) that nobody, not even the ref a lot of the time knew who the two legal men were. Each time got their moment to shine, and in the closing moments of the match there was a top rope suplex spot that utilized most of the participants in the match that was definitely highlight reel worthy. Cesaro got a sneak tag in to become the legal man and retain the tag team titles for him and Tyson Kidd. They all brought their A game and the crowd knew it. Definitely a great way to pump us up. Well done.
Several great spots in this Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal. A few of the highlights for me were the close call elimination with the Big Show only to see him eliminate all of New Day single handedly. Another moment that left a sour taste in my mouth was the quick draw elimination of Curtis Axel, I thought all this build up would lead to something more substantial for him in this match if not even a victory, but no dice. Sorry Axelmania. As soon as most of the fan favorites were elimination the crowd really began to get behind Mizdow. The final three ended up being Miz, Mizdow, and the Big Show. In a great moment Mizdow finally got out from under Miz’ thumb by eliminating him from the match. Now I would have loved to see Mizdow take this whole thing, it would have made for a great WM moment. But I sort of see the reasoning behind Big Show ultimately being the victor. They really pushed the comparison between him and Andre and it just made sense. But I would have loved the pop from a Mizdow win.
This match delivered even more than I thought it would. Every man got their time to shine, and there were some great high flying spots, and some amazing use of the ladders scattered around the ring. A few mark out moments for me were Dean Ambrose’s elbow from the ladder on the outside onto his opponents, that BRUTAL powerbomb from Luke Harper onto the ladder on the outside shattering it and Ambrose. I think the best aspect of this match though, was the unpredictability. You know how they have made a habit in recent years of close call finishing move two counts? They did that this year in the form of a ladder match. Almost every man made me think throughout their use of the ladders that they might take it. In a picure perfect ending, after a headbutt war with Dolph Ziggler, Daniel Bryan got to the belt to become the new Intercontinental Champion. The crowd got their happy YES moment, feel good joy joy moments everywhere. For me too, D-Bry definitely deserves a great run, and think he will bring prestige back to the title.
These two brought the fire like I knew they would. The fans love to cheer Randy Orton, but you also heard some fans not being able to resist cheering for the ability of Seth Rollins. What I loved was that Randy incapacitated Rollins’ stooges early in the match in a beautiful vintage Orton DDT spot on the outside, to avoid to many annoying attempts at interference. Orton showed us why he is currently WWE’s present, and Rollins proved he is WWE’s future. Great close calls including a kick out of the RKO that left Randy a bit stunned. A kick out of a first curb stomp that vexed Seth Rollins. In one of the most beautiful set ups for an RKO I’ve ever seen, we saw a failed curb stomp, followed by some air time, followed by an RKO out of nowhere that led to an honestly unexpected Randy Orton victory. A great match by two of the most gifted in ring performers working today.
Now here is a match that went a completely different way than I expected, but I ate it up like the seven year old I used to be anyway. It was amazing seeing Sting walk down a WrestleMania ramp, soaking in a WrestleMania crowd, looking in pretty damn good shape. In the opening minutes we got great psychology in offense from Sting that made it obvious that Triple H may have underestimated his opponent. The crowd was eating it up, Sting looked to have it in the bag with a Scorpion Death Lock when out of nowhere we hear DX music. Out come Road Dogg, Billy Gunn, and XPac who Sting took out pretty quick, I figured it was only a matter of time for Shawn Michaels to make his appearance and dammit he did in beautiful fashion with Sweet Chin Music to Sting mid death lock.. A pedigree from Triple H, Sting kicks out, out comes NWO! The final battle between WWE and WCW commences, with DX getting the upperhand. The sledge hammer and bat come into play and once again Sting has the match in his hands, he even breaks the sledgehammer in two. In a sledgehammer hit I saw coming, HHH nails Sting and picks up the victory. I had a bad feeling it would end that way halfway through the match, and hated to see Sting lose his first WWE match. And maybe the last. That said, it was an amazing moment seeing all these men involved. Amazing memory for the ages.
One, it was a treat seeing Paige compete in her first WrestleMania, she is one of the best women wrestler’s in recent memory and she showed us why again tonight. Two, it was great psychology to see the Bella’s keep AJ Lee out in her corner for a good portion of the match. I didn’t like to see my Paige getting her ass handed to her, but she held her own. I marked for Nikki’s look of disbelief after Paige’s kick out of her torture rack. Now look, I know the Bella’s get a lot of flack for certain aspects of their career, but especially Nikki Bella continues to impress me, she’s a beast in the ring when she wants to be. AJ Lee finally found her way into the match, and right after a brutal steel steps spot from Paige on Brie that came out of nowhere, AJ locked in her signature submission to gain the victory for her and Paige. A great divas match, give them a chance indeed.
Great video package for Cena that definitely sparked the die hard patriot in me, and a great entrance for Rusev (PS it was great to see Lana back). The match itself, was a great back and forth that made both men look like a million bucks. The crowd for this match was pretty damn bipolar. Chants for Rusev. Yays for Rusev and boos for Cena during a slug fest. It wasn’t until that bad-ass modified Stunner from the second rope by Cena that fans even brought the USA chants to the table. Never in this match did I expect anything but a Cena victory, but they put on a great match and it shouldn’t diminish Rusev in any fans eyes. The ending of the match makes me wonder what the future holds for Lana as a breakup seems imminent. It may also lead to a continuation of this feud and if tonight’s match was any indication, I wouldn’t mind that one bit.
We are treated to a segment nobody expected with Trips and Stephanie McMahon coming out to gloat about their contributions to the company. I have to say, Stephanie McMahon does a stellar job of making me hate her. She plays the smug woman role so damn perfectly. As Triple H does a complete about face from his show of respect to Sting earlier in the night telling us he owns us all, The Rock’s music hits and we get an amazing staredown between the two. The Rock doesn’t get much talking in between the crowd marking out and a brutal slap from Stephanie McMahon. Enter Ronda Rousey! A true legitimate bad-ass who made it obvious that under her bravado, Steph was quaking in her boots. They let us soak up the anticipation before things got physical, which included an arm drag from Rousey onto Triple H. I hope we may get more from a Steph and Rousey rivalry because it’s something I definitely marked out for. Amazing segment that added a lot to the show.
It’s a match that after last year, the quality and the outcome was maybe the most up for grabs for this event. And when I think of the way things went down last year, the atmosphere and the match delivered in spades. Bray Wyatt performed like a champ despite reports of a sprained ankle hours before the match, and Undertaker made his way to the ring looking like a million bucks. Bray sold the magnitute of the meeting beautifully before things got underway (with a big boot). The match was slow paced, but damn did it tell a story. It took the reality of Taker’s physical condition last year, and made us believe that maybe it really was Bray’s time to take his place as the new face of fear. Undertaker delivered all of his signature moves like he hadn’t lost a step, and after a spot that had him favoring his head for the remainder of the match Bray was able to spend a lot of the bout looking dominant. We all hoped for that inevitably iconic moment where the upside down spider walk met the Undertaker sit up, and when it happened I creamed my pants. Bray sold that moment so beautifully it could bring a tear to your eye. Bray kicked out a tombstone, Taker kicked out of Sister Abigail, when I saw that Bray might take it with another SA, Taker counters for a second tombstone to gain his redemption and make his record 22-1. Not the way I would have booked it, I think Bray needed a win, BUT it was amazing seeing Taker back, and I think the sky is still the limit for Bray. Well done from both men.
A main event that delivered way more than I expected it to. Roman Reigns was obviously being built up as Vince’s new golden boy, so a repeat of Lesnar’s dominance over John Cena was something I did not expect from this match. Suplex after suplex, power move after power move Reigns was being decimated in the ring. The moments that I marked out for, were the moments that it seemed Reigns himself was marking out for the sheer power of Lesnar. He pulled a Mick Foley and seemed to be enjoying the pain. Eventually the match spilled to the outside and Reigns was able to slam Lesnar into the post to bust him wide open. Three Superman punches later, only one of which knocked Lesnar off his feet made it appear Reigns finally had it in the bag. A spear that Lesnar immediately got up from once again led me to believe otherwise.
Now here is what made this main event so spectacular for me. Despite the breaking news that revealed Lesnar would stay with WWE, making the outcome of the match less predictable. The booking of the match made me believe that Reigns may make a miracle comeback and prevail over Lesnar. Until Rollins’ music hit. It’s true I predicted a Rollins cash-in, but that was for after the actual main event. Instead Rollins cashes in mid match and attemps to steal the title from Lesnar, in a twist of fate it was Reigns that Seth scored the victory over leaving Lesnar still dominant in a way, which was brilliant booking. An amazing end to the night that the crowd definitely appreciated. As did I, WWE…as did I.
Overall WrestleMania 31 Rating: 10 out of 10 Suplexes (One of the best WrestleMania’s in recent memory. Bravo)