29th March 2015.
We’re in Santa Clara, California. Enormous show this year. 2 hours for the kick-off show and then 4 hours for the show itself. Kick-off show is hosted by Renee Young, Booker T, Byron Saxton & Corey Graves. A couple of matches on the show but it’s mostly hype to build up the card. Here’s my take:
Triple H vs. Sting. We’re all expecting Sting to win this but I would love it if Hunter won. I haven’t cared about Sting since 1996 and hated the whole Crow Sting (aka Sad Mime Sting) era, which has comprised the last 20 years. So this is a no-lose for me. I don’t care who wins and if the ridiculous Hunter win does happen it’d be fine by me.
Who I want to win: Triple H
Who will win: Sting
Seth Rollins vs. Randy Orton. This is one where I’d love to see the youngster go over. Rollins is everything Orton is not. He’s exciting, he’s fresh, he has a move-set. Orton has his pose and the RKO. I probably hate him more than anyone else on the roster. So this is cut and dry for me. I want Seth to win, anything else is bad.
Who I want to win: Seth Rollins
Who will win: Randy Orton
IC title ladder match: I don’t care who wins. The title is worthless. If they’re really serious about rebuilding it, from the ground up, then Daniel Bryan has to win. So I’ll be watching for the car-crash elements but that’s it.
Who I want to win: Daniel Bryan
Who will win: Daniel Bryan
Bellas vs. Paige & AJ. The Bellas suck. They actually put some effort into hyping this match this week though. Shame it’s the Bellas.
Who I want to win: Paige & AJ
Who will win: The Bellas
Rusev vs. Cena. Weak build on this. I’m not particularly partial to Rusev but him winning is more interesting than Cena winning so Cena wins. Much like he did against Wyatt last year when he should have lost.
Who I want to win: Rusev
Who will win: John Cena
Wyatt vs. Taker. Another match that’s had a luke-warm build. Hoping the two guys will have enough personality to win the crowd over. Of course Taker’s streak ending last year takes some of the mystique off him and is anybody that bothered if he loses again now?
Who I want to win: Bray Wyatt
Who will win: Undertaker
Lesnar vs. Reigns. I’m a big, big Lesnar fan and I’m hoping he retains here. I think Roman comes off as a soft worker without anything impactful enough to put Lesnar down. With Brock having signed, for three years no less, there’s no reason to job him out now. He should retain. Hopefully in a massacre.
Who I want to win: Brock Lesnar
Who will win: Brock Lesnar
The pre-show matches are covered by our illustrious, ahem, commentary team of Michael Cole, JBL & Jerry Lawler. JBL’s first line is to call it “Wrestlemoania”. Nice one, pal.
WWF Tag Team Championship
Cesaro & Tyson Kidd (c) vs. The Usos vs. Los Matadores vs. New Day
I can totally understand this being ditched onto the pre-show because the WWE’s tag team division pretty much sucks. Shame for Cesaro & Tyson Kidd though. They’re solid. Natalya looks great tonight, like a pink, feminine Road Warrior. Her having a special look makes the champs look more important. One of the Usos, Jey, has a shoulder injury from last week so Cesaro runs him into the rail to leave the Usos basically out of it. Jimmy remains. Giant Swing from Cesaro leads to a Tyson Kidd dropkick. That’s the innovative double-teaming of the champs. Jimmy gets in there and has himself a Superkick Party. It all gets a bit frantic from there, with frequent tags. Cesaro deadlifts Big E in a freakish spot where he suplexes him outside back in. On the outside Natalya straps El Torito in the Sharpshooter. This provokes Naomi into hitting a dive as this gets really crazy. They throw in some near falls suggesting Matadores or New Day might grab the belts. There are so many superkicks in this match the Jackson brothers would be saying it was a bit much. Uso hits the Superfly Splash but Cesaro steals the pin and the champs retain. This was organised chaos and surprisingly fun.
Final Rating: ***1/4
Video Control takes us to the WWE’s Social Media lounge where Tom Philips has WWE Hall of Famer Lita for a Q & A. Seeing as she’s retired there are no hard questions for her, mostly just opinion stuff. Lita hints at a possible tag match with her and Trish against the Bellas. Not against AJ & Paige? Boo. We skip back to the pre-show guys where Booker T pitches his book. Video Control takes us to John Gruden, who’s an ESPN guy, for analysis of the battle royal, who puts over Titus O’Neill, Curtis Axel (“often imitated, never eliminated”) and his favourite Ryback. None of those guys are winning.
Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
A ring full of humanity out there including Big Show, Kane, Mark Henry, Ryback and other heavy hitters. There are too many guys in there. Axel stops everyone to do the shirt-rip. Axelmania is runnin’ wild. The million other wrestlers throw him out. The one guy I’m looking for is Hideo Itami who pairs off with Cesaro and they have a decent little match while everyone else hangs by the ropes. Oh, and what’s that chant? “Hideo”. He’s going to be a star here. Another angle is Miz and his assistant Mizdow and they team up on Miz’s old assistant Alex Riley. Mizdow throws him out. Hey, Zack Ryder is in there! Bo Dallas throws him out and eliminates himself by celebrating. Itami kicks him in the face. Hideo is seriously over and everyone clears out so he can kick Tyson Kidd’s ass too. Naturally, this being the WWE, Big Show punches him out of the ring, drawing jeers. Now the ring is filled with people who don’t seem to care and Cesaro, who’s tired after working a match already. The Ascension get the rub by throwing Mark Henry out. The crowd are hoping for a Mizdow win now. Ryback throws both of the Ascension out and that gets him a bit of love too. Darren Young and Heath Slater, former NXT buddies of Ryback, both go after him and both get thrown out. Big E gets love for battering Big Show but Show throws him out. Crowd wants Mizdow but it’s Big Show who dominates. Cesaro chucks Kane out to a big pop. Are they learning that nobody wants to see Show & Kane? Cesaro squaring off with Show gets a lot of love because people remember last year. Show dumps Cesaro for pay back to heat.
Final Four: Miz, Mizdow, Big Show & Ryback. Show throws Ryback out. Maybe they didn’t learn anything. As the crowd chant “Mizdow” it makes me wonder if they’ll make the battle royal a fan favourite thing after last year. Mizdow throws Miz out to a huge pop, confirming the end of that angle. Well, apart from the inevitable feud. Mizdow does the skinning the cat when faced with Show but the last bit of the match drags because it’s Show. Mizdow tries the Benoit Rumble elimination, which the commentators can’t reference but Show shrugs it off to dump Mizdow and win. This had moments. Cesaro going after Kane & Show again (why is he not getting pushed?) and Itami stealing the show by doing interesting things when everyone else was hugging the ropes. Plus Mizdow finally turning on Miz. It’s a nice moment for Show but only because he’s choked so badly for so long that winning a pre-show battle royal is actually an achievement for the poor guy.
Final Rating: **
Video Control takes us back to the pre-show team for a final 10 minute shill. I actually like the Kick-Off team. I enjoy watching them a lot more than the commentary team. Booker T shamelessly shills his book some more. As the pre-show finishes they’re setting up ladders around ringside, hundreds of the things, for the IC title match.
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WWE Intercontinental Championship
Bad News Barrett (c) vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Stardust vs. Luke Harper vs. R-Truth vs. Dean Ambrose
70,000 people on their feet chanting “YES” for Daniel Bryan. Let’s see how they respond to Vince’s hand picked title challenger tonight. Whoever wins should reveal a little insight into the main event. If Bryan goes over there’s a good chance Lesnar retains. Loads of dives to start, including a Harper tope. Stardust steals the match by bringing his own sparkly ladder, which Barrett beats up. Ambrose gets some decent reactions, showing the WWE’s booking hasn’t completely killed him. Harper is the first guy to deliberately set a spot up, rather than try to climb the ladder when the ring is empty. It’s all awkward stuff too. Next Truth sets up a ladder for a spot and the lack of organic spots in the match becomes readily apparent. Having set the spot up Truth moves aside so Stardust can get suplexed off the ladder by Barrett. At least the match lacks in another ladder match irritation; slow climbing. Ambrose, Bryan and Ziggler all seem determined to climb at a normal speed. Ambrose takes the second sickening spot of the match as Harper powerbombs him out of the ring and THROUGH a ladder. The bump is brutal. It looks like a concussion at best, possibly a broken neck. Ziggler and Bryan’s insistence at climbing quickly creates some really thrilling moments. Ziggler and Bryan get into a headbutting duel on top of the ladder, which Bryan wins and he pulls the title down for the win. The match was a clusterfuck with two big spots. Ziggler and Bryan tried really hard to make it special but the setting up of spots hurt the match. The crowd chant “YES” as Bryan stays up the ladder. One can only hope they don’t treat Bryan like an IC champion. Seeing as the IC champion seems to take a plethora of jobs. Really worried about Ambrose, who took one hell of a bump to rule him out of the rest of the match. Hopefully the damage isn’t permanent.
Final Rating: ***1/2
Randy Orton vs. Seth Rollins
Cole points out Seth might cash in tonight as he’s Mr Money in the Bank. JBL’s claims that Randy Orton is what a “sportz entertainer” looks like if you build it from the ground up. Good job I like wrestling. Randy Orton sucks. They’re keen to show this isn’t just filler and work hard on high speed near misses. J & J try to interfere in the early going so Orton DDT’s them both off the apron to stop that. The crowd mount a half-hearted duelling chant as the match grinds along. They do have some nice counters lined up where Rollins sees an obvious powerslam coming, goes after the Curb Stomp and gets caught in the actual powerslam. There’s also a spot where Seth hits a Downward Spiral into the buckles. He tries for another one and Randy blocks it. I like the psychology behind that. There’s a feeling that at Wrestlemania you have to pull out all the stops and that’s evident with a Seth Asai moonsault. They have a decent understanding and the counters are smooth. Not sure about the selling though as it’s wildly inconsistent. Like Orton staying down for ages after the moonsault but Seth popping up after the rope DDT. Because this is Wrestlemania Rollins casually kicks out of the RKO. J & J jump in to prevent the PUNT but that means a duo of RKO’s. Curb Stomp…for 2. Wrestlemania = pomp, pageantry, killing of all finishers. They have a hot stretch with a Phoenix Splash dodged into an RKO set up, dodged into a Curb Stomp, countered (by Randy pushing Seth way up into the air) and BOOM, RKO out of the air. Awesome finish. The match rose to the occasion with some cool ideas at play. It’s disappointing that Orton won but Seth is the future regardless of the outcome.
Final Rating: ***1/2
Video Control takes us ringside where Ronda Rousey is hanging out. I would say “sign her up” but there’s no one for her to work.
Triple H vs. Sting
In terms of build-up this is probably the best booked match on the show. It’s a pity the shill video shows Stephanie McMahon rambling about WCW, which this isn’t about at all. Or rather shouldn’t be Sting himself said “I’m not fighting for WCW, that would be ridiculous”. Sting has his own percussion band to play him to the ring for his WWE debut! The percussion, combined with the Terminator font on the Wrestlemania sign actually gets me pretty excited. They have Arnold Schwarzenegger here, Skynet should totally attack! And goddamn, that’s exactly what happens as Triple H is brought out here flanked by Terminators, wearing the most ridiculous attire you’ve ever seen in wrestling; his King of Kings thing with a Terminator skeleton over the top. He then strolls down here carrying six Terminator heads. I’ll give it to Hunter, he knows how to make an entrance. The only thing that would have been better was Max Landis doing the voice over and Chloe Dykstra coming out here as Triple H. Maybe they can save that for Backlash or whatever the April PPV is called this year.
I know Triple H vs. Sting is only a “dream match” in the WWE’s head but the build up and those entrances allows the fans to do a “this is awesome” chant before we even get started. Getting the crowd hooked before there’s any contact is always a winner. Unfortunately Triple H is an old school wrestler so he calls stuff in the ring and inserts headlocks and stuff. I generally find Triple H to be severely dated compared to the modern workers. Sting has an impactful style that actually suits. Sting completely no sells a facebuster, which was needed to make him seem important. Something Hulk Hogan never understood. If Sting gets beaten down like a normal guy then he is just a normal guy with facepaint on. Hunter at least understands the art of building an opponent up (before squashing them). JBL makes a valid point of saying that as the match goes on we find out if Sting is still Sting and “if he was really that good to begin with”. Well he was…in the early 90s. Hell, Triple H was great in 2000 but that was 15 years ago. Hunter gets caught talking on camera, which makes me wonder why he and Cena are regarded as the WWE’s top guys for the last 15 years seeing as they’re the two guys who are continually getting caught talking. Then he goes to a chinlock and the match dies.
SCORPION DEATHLOCK and DX (X-Pac & the Outlaws) run out here! There’s no DQ’s so that’s all legal. Sting fends them off but it’s enough distraction for the Pedigree, which, this being Wrestlemania, gets 2. Triple H grabs the sledgehammer and the nWo music kicks in (thus making this about a feud that finished 14 years ago) and out comes Hogan, Nash and Hall. But Nash and Hall are also Hunter’s friends so this attack on DX makes NO SENSE AT ALL. NONE. Scorpion Deathdrop and that only gets 2 because it’s Wrestlemania and finishers mean nothing. The nonsensical DX vs. nWo battle continues at ringside with X-Pac taking Hogan out (!!) “This is us against them” yells JBL, which explains why he was such a jackass during the Invasion angle and indeed why that angle was an unmitigated disaster. SHAWN MICHAELS IS HERE. SUPERKICK FOR STING! That gets 2. This is madness. It’s the WWE blowing it’s nostalgia wad all over the place. It comes down to bat vs. sledgehammer and the hammer breaks in two. Hunter grabs the remains of the hammer and bashes Sting with it for the win. HAHAHA, yes! They went there! They jobbed Sting out in his WWE debut. Wonderful. Even though they buried the entire of WCW 14 years ago, they felt the need to do so AGAIN. Even though Sting said it was nothing to do with WCW but that’s exactly what it became. I still don’t understand why Nash & Hall, Hunter’s buddies, were working again him here after they hugged it out last night at the Hall of Fame. There’s a point where booking needs to reflect reality better. Hunter shakes Sting’s hand after the match and tells him he earned his respect or some such.
Final Rating: **
Video Control gives us a shill for an assortment of upcoming Network shows including one hosted by Jerry Springer, a Seth Green cartoon, something from the director of Jackass and another Diva Search. Wow, that’ll get me to tune in. I agree that the interviews they’ve been doing have been special and worth seeing but this kind of programming is aimed solely at attracting new people who won’t buy the Network for the wrestling. Which is stupid. It’s a wrestling thing. If you don’t like wrestling enough to buy the Network this programming will not alter that. We head backstage where Maria Menounos is on interview duty. Daniel Bryan is praised by Pat Patterson, Roddy Piper, Ricky Steamboat, Ric Flair and Bret Hart. The latter leads everyone in a “YES” chant. Cue Ron Simmons: “DAMN”.
Video Control takes us back ringside for a musical performance from “legendary” drummer Travis Barker, singer Skylar Grey and rapper Kid Ink. This is the theme song to Wrestlemania and it’s not a bad tune but do we really need to hear the entire of it? Why not put this at the top of the show and forego the insistence of someone singing “America the Beautiful”? I hate that song.
Paige & AJ Lee vs. The Bella Twins
Recently AJ Lee has been trying to drive a #givedivasachance, which the WWE have actually bought into. Why? Because the casual viewers the WWE has gained from Total Divas don’t stick with the show because all the divas matches and segments are 2 minutes long. On a 3 hour show. Unfortunately this has led to longer matches for the Bellas, who aren’t good wrestlers. The problem they have here is the die-hard WWE fans know the Bellas suck in the ring so they don’t care about the match. Paige does a decent job of taking heat and brings sympathy to her role. The Bellas bring a few tag moves, which is an improvement over what they’ve been doing and there’s a great running theme of AJ Lee getting knocked off the apron. The selling is weird because AJ spends most of the match laid out and then hot tags in. Huh? AJ isn’t having a red letter day and struggles with Nikki. At least the Bellas positioning is ok here, even if the execution is off. Black Widow on Nikki and she taps, giving the faces the win. The match wasn’t a total disaster though there were too many awkward spots. It was certainly better from the Bellas. They need to step up the improvement if they’re to stay in those spots. Look at Sasha Banks, for crying out loud. That’s where the bar is set.
Final Rating: *1/4
Video Control cuts to the 2015 Hall of Fame. Best speeches came from Madusa (getting the women’s title out of the trash and making Paul Heyman cry) and Kevin Nash. The rest of the inductees were Rikishi, Larry Zbyszko, Tatsumi Fujinami, the Bushwhackers, Randy Savage (accepted by Lanny Poffo) and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Shawn’s introduction for Nash was perhaps the best thing on the entire four hour broadcast as he constantly said things he wasn’t supposed to. Two bridges repaired in getting Madusa and, finally, Randy Savage in the Hall of Fame were a highlight. It gains legitimacy by the year and I’m really pleased to see Fujinami go in. If they could induct a Japanese guy every year they might even get caught up on all the legends that aren’t in there from the Land of the Rising Sun. Obviously there are glaring omissions from Mexico too. Triple H seems to be the guy spearheading the attempts to make the WWE Hall of Fame a genuine ‘wrestling’ Hall of Fame not just guys who were big WWE stars. Honestly, Hunter’s ideas to make the WWE less small-minded regarding their ‘rivals’ is refreshing. It makes the WWE a better place. If they could get the in-ring back on track it could be a classic era.
WWE United States Championship
Rusev (c) vs. John Cena
John Cena being the All-American poster boy has won over the American fans but globally his pro-US comments have been met with disdain and even disgust. Given the global audience for the product it’s perhaps a dim move to do this going into Wrestlemania with the worldwide audience. Especially as they’ve tried to book this like Rocky IV but failed entirely to understand Rocky Balboa’s appeal and why people boo John Cena. Great entrance for Rusev as Lana carries the title to the ring while the Russian National Anthem plays. Rusev himself rides out here on a goddamn TANK. To all the Americans booing Rusev for demonstrating his national pride, that’s how the rest of the world sees guys with pro-USA gimmicks. Rusev insists he’s introduced first to mostly boos, a smattering of cheers and a “USA” chant. I guess it did work then. Cena on the other hand gets loudly booed regardless of his pro-USA stance. I guess it didn’t work!
Hang on, Rusev is called the “Super Athlete”? That’s Toru Yano’s nickname! Anyway, an evil Russian storyline. That’s just so 1980s. I bet the WWE was thrilled when Vladimir Putin got elected because they could break out all the old tropes from 30 years ago. Super Cena has the usual gaping selling issues, where he lies around like he’s dead then pops up and hits a series of moves. Rusev gets to show his talents by throwing Cena around. He looks like a genuine beast. Cena has to raise his game as the crowd finally decide who they like in this match…Lana! Cena goes back to being dead before mounting another comeback and then he’s dead again. It’s jarring once you’ve seen it and you can’t go back. But he’s been like it forever so he’s not going to modify his technique now. The first false finish is the STF but the crowd don’t react to it at all because it’s Wrestlemania and finishers barely count. Lana throws her shoe at the ref. Who throws a shoe? Rusev naturally gets out and heads up top, getting desperate, and hitting a flying headbutt for a near fall. And lo and behold the crowd start chanting for “Rusev”. It’s like Rocky IV, only backwards. Because Cena isn’t Rocky Balboa. He’s Ivan Drago. Which is why people hate him. Cena decides he needs to do something new (EGAD!) and hits a springboard Ace Crusher. Hello! It’s mainly because Rusev has countered every attempt at the FU. ACCOLADE! The crowd helpfully chant “TAP”. That would screw with Cena’s “never give up” mentality. Cena breaks out of the Accolade, the first person to do so, and gets the STFU. Rusev gets out but accidentally collides with Lana and Cena takes the US title with the FU. Flat finish after a well built contest.
Final Rating: ***
Next year Wrestlemania is in Dallas. The Kick-Off guys were talking about it potentially breaching a 100,000 attendance. That would be something! The attendance for Wrestlemania has become the kind of global thing that guarantees massive audiences as the entire world wants to see it. Hell, Dallas is just down the road from my brother’s house in Texas. I might even go myself.
Promo Time: Stephanie McMahon & Triple H.
They’re out to announce a record attendance of 76,976. It seems as if Steph is out here to put over the fans but instead puts over herself. Hunter’s victory over Sting has him in jubilant mood claiming it feels like he beat “76,976 people”. Hunter points the Authority owns “every superstar in the back”, which brings out…THE ROCK. He points out the Authority doesn’t own the people and doesn’t own the Rock. “You can either go back there and dress up like Terminator again or we can create a Wrestlemania moment”. Rock and, rather tellingly, Stephanie verbally spar for a while eating up precious Wrestlemania time. Rock goes to leave but finds himself standing next to someone in the front row…RONDA ROUSEY! “Ronda’s gonna kill you”. Steph nervously points out she’s friends with Ronda in a moment of selling that she should probably use more frequently to put the guys over. “Any ring I step into…is mine” – Ronda Rousey. “If you want me to leave, how about you make me?” Rock unloads on Triple H and Ronda throws the Game! Rousey>Sting. This was an enormous amount of filler, possibly designed to let the sun go down a bit more for the entrances of Bray Wyatt and the Undertaker. Although, you know what else could have done that? A battle royal. This screamed “Wrestlemania moment”. Rock literally said it himself, twice. It wasn’t though. I got a little excited when Ronda Rousey got in there but then nothing happened.
Bray Wyatt vs. The Undertaker
Wyatt’s entrance is seriously weakened by the sheer amount of light in the stadium. His fireflies don’t show up for starters. He’s joined by a bunch of shuffling zombie scarecrows that he brings to life by touching, obviously. Bray has a certain charm to him and this is seen as a passing of the torch somewhat from one iconic figure to another. “Is this a gunfighter coming back for his last stand or to show he’s still got it?” – JBL. Good analogy. Swiftly ruined by Michael Cole saying the exact same thing only less eloquently and Lawler saying he doesn’t care why Taker is back. Nice work, jackasses. The current incarnation is probably the worst commentary team the WWE has ever had.
“All of this is mine now” screams Wyatt, selling the match nicely. Rumour has it that Bray hurt his ankle warming up in the ring on the afternoon of the show but it’s not reflected during the match. Taker bosses the early going, including the Ropewalk in his early spots. He’s not wrestled in a year but looks in surprisingly good condition. Much better than during his match with Brock Lesnar last year. Maybe he was so disappointed in his performance last year that he worked on his conditioning. Just as it’s becoming a procession of Undertaker spots Bray cuts off the big boot after the Snake Eyes. When Wyatt is in charge it’s almost sad. Like he’s beating up an old man. Taker looks weary like an old lion on his last legs. Like most open-air shows, this one has suffered from the sound disappearing out into the California night time air. So most chants are quiet and nothing seems to stick. It’s not the best of atmospheres. The match plods along with both guys taking all the rest they can. Undertaker looks to be struggling quite badly, not as badly as last year oddly enough but struggling nonetheless. Sister Abigail is blocked into a chokeslam with Bray taking an eternity over his finish. Tombstone…gets 2 because it’s Wrestlemania and finishers mean nothing. Undertaker’s ‘surprised’ reaction to that is terrible. So now we’re into finishers time and Sister Abigail gets 2. Bray brings the spiderwalk and Taker sits up, collapsing the spiderwalk. It’s ridiculous but this is the kind of theatre that people love about the WWE. Sister Abigail is countered into a second Tombstone and that finishes. I don’t see what any of this has done for Bray Wyatt but at least the match was better than the shambolic Lesnar contest last year.
Final Rating: *3/4
Video Control shills a forthcoming new podcast edition to the Network; Chris Jericho’s. He’s got John Cena as a guest. That’s tomorrow after Raw. Hoping they steer well clear of kayfabe. Not that Cena has an awful lot to say. The Austin ones have been great. Apparently Austin has fallen out with Vince McMahon yet again, hence his Podcast being replaced. It’s a real shame as Austin was asking the kind of questions that normal people wanted to know the answers to. He wasn’t sucking up.
WWE World Heavyweight Championship
Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Roman Reigns
The build of this one has been lacking, resulting in a tug o’ war over the belt last week on Raw. However Brock Lesnar is THE MAN. He’s been booked as indestructible and rightly so. Whoever beats Lesnar is made as a main eventer. One problem here, only 20% (roughly) of the crowd actually want that to be Roman Reigns. If that. There’s a lot of heat for the challenger. JBL runs down Lesnar’s achievements including his UFC run and winning the IWGP title in his first match for New Japan. I love that the WWE is acknowledging the outside world to strengthen their stars nowadays. Long, long overdue. Get Vince McMahon out of his WWE bubble once in a while. Crowd is very pro-Lesnar, which is worrying for babyface challenger Roman Reigns.
Lesnar OWNS Roman from the bell, grabbing him and throwing suplexes. F-5! An F-5 after 30 seconds and Roman is DONE. Lesnar stops, realises he’s got a cut cheek, and decides to punish Roman for it. Brock starts taking a few shots but he just NO SELLS THE SHIT out of them. GERMAN SUPLEX. Reigns is getting crushed here. “Suplex City, bitch”. Roman’s main tactic here is to piss Brock off. Which is perhaps not the best of ideas but he keeps smirking at Lesnar while he’s taking the beating. Credit to Roman, his selling is tremendous. He looks finished after every spot. This is exactly what the crowd wants. Roman Reigns being annihilated. Every time he gets a lucky shot in the crowd gets on Roman’s case. Then Brock snaps out of it and KILLS HIM AGAIN. An errant Roman knee busts Lesnar again, this time on the lip. With each suplex the crowd chant the number of it with Heyman keeping score. An overhead belly to belly takes it to eight. F-5…for 2. That ticks Lesnar off and he removes his gloves. Oh, now you’ve done it! “Roman Reigns is about to get hurt” – JBL. Roman takes a few right hands and starts asking for more. It’s a variation on the Rope-a-Dope. Except Roman is the dope because he’s dodging nothing. He’s just getting destroyed. GERMAN, GERMAN, F-5…for 2. Finally the crowd start to cheer for Roman, because he’s taken such a heroic beating that even the most cynical of fans appreciates it.
On the floor Lesnar gets run into the ring post and gets busted wide open. Was that another hardway cut? Man, Brock is having no luck at all. He’s bleeding like a stuck pig. SUPERMAN PUNCH but Brock doesn’t go down, he staggers into the ropes. Another SUPERMAN PUNCH but Brock finds the ropes again and stays up. Lesnar’s selling here is amazing. He looks punchy. SUPERMAN PUNCH. Lesnar is wobbled. SPEAR. Lesnar won’t stay down! SPEAR…for 2! Three punches and two spears and Lesnar still won’t stay down. This is now officially awesome. Another Superman Punch, CAUGHT, F-5.
And here comes Seth Rollins. HE’S CASHING IN! In mid-match with both guys down. One little detail; Dean Ambrose said he would stop Seth from ever cashing in but tonight he can’t because tonight he got powerbombed through a ladder and messed his neck up. So he’s not here. Rollins is. CURB STOMP on Brock. He goes for another one; F-5 but no because Roman hits the SPEAR to stop it. CURB STOMP ON REIGNS. Rollins wins! ROLLINS WINS THE TITLE! This was heading toward easily Roman Reigns best match with Brock Lesnar just destroying him and Roman taking a wonderful thrashing until the ending. The cash-in almost took away from the match but it’s certainly an interesting direction and we have a new champion. Plus the main event, that on paper looked weak, totally delivered.
Final Rating: ****1/4
What We Said: Could easily have been one of the most reviled Wrestlemania shows in history but delivered in so many unexpected ways. The title match was really good and almost everything else worked too. A few disappointments like the nonsensical booking in HHH-Sting and a poor match from Wyatt-Undertaker but otherwise it’s hard to find fault in this show. I had four matches, five if you include the pre-show, over *** and there was plenty of effort on display. Naturally the main event is what the show will be ultimately remembered for. Yet another display of dominance from Brock Lesnar. Roman Reigns taking an absolute beating to get himself over and Seth Rollins, the sneaky son of a bitch, stealing the spotlight from both men by winning the belt. In a way I’m disappointed Brock Lesnar’s title run is over because I loved it and thought they’d deliberately re-positioned the IC and US titles onto the other two biggest stars to rebuild those divisions. Plenty of options for Seth title defences as well with Orton having beaten him, Lesnar never having lost the title and Roman Reigns taking a beating off Lesnar not Rollins. There are already three potential challengers.