Not much of note happened until Los Matadores hit stereo Silver King planchas. El Torito called for a dive, but Axel blocked. Axel teased a moonsault to the floor, but Los Matadores and Torito triple teamed him into an awkward dive onto everyone. Swagger then took down one of Los Matadores with an ankle lock. I don't know if it was Fernando or Diego because the commentators did not let me know. Either way, they tapped out and Los Matadores were eliminated.
One of the Usos was worked over after that. I did not know which one, because the WWE commentators did not tell me. The other Uso then made a comeback. The teams started going back and forth. Cesaro saved Swagger from Ryback. Cesaro then hit Ryback with Swiss Death and the Neutralyzer: 1…2…3!
Usos vs. Real Americans for the titles. The Usos hit stereo dives. The teams went back and forth. It was quite good. One of the Usos hit a Whisper in the Wind for a good nearfall. More back and forth action. This match is dope. Cesaro accidentally speared Swagger out of the ring and then ate a double superkick. The Usos then hit him with a double Superfly Splash: 1…2…3
Swagger attacked Cesaro after the match. Zeb seemed to be upset and called for a handshake. The crowd did not want Cesaro to do any such thing. Swagger went for the handshake, but Cesaro gave him the Giant Swing! Yay! Cesaro motioned that he was done with those goobers.
The WWE tag team division finally got resurrected in 2013, and this was a fitting celebration of that. Sure, the match could have been even better with The Shield and/or the Rhodes Brothers in there, but this was a delightful start to Wrestlemania. The right team also won. Match Rating: ***1/2
Hulk Hogan came out to start the show. He welcomed us to the show. Hogan fucked up and called the building, "the Silverdome." He actually acknowledged his mistake. He said there would be more special Wrestlemania moments this year, and right on cue, Steve Austin came out. Austin trolled Hogan about his building name botch. Austin got "What!" chants and then encouraged them to happen (which actually managed to get them to stop after they got it out of their system). Austin put over Hogan. The Rock came out. Remember this segment later when all of the interesting midcard matches…oh. Rock also trolled Hogan about the name of the building botch. Rock sucked their dicks (metaphorically). There's been a lot of dick sucking (still metaphorically) so far. Rock connected Cena to Hogan (boos) and Bryan to Austin ("Yes!" chants). Rock then said that whenever he showed up at Mania, it caused fans to get knocked up. They all did their catchphrases. Hogan then trolled himself about the name of the building botch. They drank beer and made a mess. Rude. Michael called that segment "probably the greatest moment in Wrestlemania history." I respectively disagree, but the segment did not offend me too much. The important matches on this show that need to deliver will get the time they need. There's no midcard match that I care about that just lost time due to this segment…because there is no midcard match that I care about.
Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H
The winner of this match gets a spot in the main event for the WWE Championship. They did a lengthy video package to build up Bryan's journey in the WWE and his feud with Triple H. It was a hell of a video package. This match is probably the most important match on the show for a variety of reasons. Bryan needs to win very clean in a great match.
Stephanie McMahon, in one of the most ridiculous outfits that I have ever seen on a human being, introduced her husband. Triple H came out in a hysterically obnoxious "king" entrance. Between the video package and this entrance, it's hard not to feel like this isn't the main event of the show. Double negative. We're going on thirty plus minutes before the first match of the show.
Bryan's entrance with the crowd going nuts was quite the site. He had a taped-up left shoulder. Stephanie and HHH did Eskimo kisses. Five stars. HHH offered up some Code of Honor. Bryan kicked the hand away and got a nearfall with a schoolboy. HHH sold for Bryan more in the first minute than he did in the first minute of the first Brock match. HHH started going after Bryan's left leg and left arm. Bryan hit a sloppy diving DDT off the apron and to the floor. Bryan hit a senton atomico on HHH, but Bryan also crashed into the barricade. Back in the ring, HHH crotched Bryan on the top rope. Bryan is wearing fuzzy kick pads for some reason (Bruiser Brody tribute? Jimmy Jacobs tribute?). Back on the floor, HHH gave Bryan a divorce court on the table, and Stephanie did "Yes!" chants. HHH went for the countout win, but Bryan got back in. HHH went to work on the arm. Bryan went for a tope suicida, but HHH blocked it and dropped Bryan on the apron, injured arm first. HHH applied the Yes! Lock. Bryan survived, but HHH was still in control. Bryan hit two bridging Germans in a row, but HHH kicked out both times. HHH hit a fucking TIGER suplex. I don't recall ever seeing that in the WWE (but I'm sure the commenters can make me feel really stupid for not remembering one). Bryan came back with a sunset flip powerbomb. Bryan started to rally, but HHH cut him off with a giant lariat. Stephanie had an orgasm after that. Bryan reversed a Pedigree into the PRAWN HOLD for a nearfall. Bryan knocked HHH down with a buzzsaw, but HHH blocked a headbutt with a knee. HHH got a crossface on Bryan. Bryan reversed it into a Yes! Lock! HHH got to the ropes. HHH rolled to the floor, and Bryan hit two straight middle rope tope suicidas. Bryan then made a big comeback in the ring. Bryan got a nearfall with another buzzsaw. Bryan called for the Busaiku Knee, but HHH reversed it into a spinebuster and a Pedigree: 1…2…NO!!! Bryan got a nearfall with a small package. Bryan avoided two more Pedigree attempts, but HHH then struck him in the head with several knees. Bryan hit a high kick, avoided a back suplex, and hit the Busaiku Knee: 1…2…3!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Stephanie got in the ring and slapped Bryan several times. Bryan looked bemused, but HHH then jumped Bryan from behind and attacked Bryan's arm with a chair.
This was exactly what it needed to be. They had an excellent match, and Daniel Bryan won as clean as possible. The matchup had been built (whether purposely or not) since August, and every little thing they did meant something. In an age where I often find myself bored by the repetitiveness of matches, I found myself compelled by every little detail in this match. The angle after the match should add some extra drama to the main event. This was an excellent opener. Match Rating: ****1/4
Kane & The New Age Outlaws (Jesse James & Billy Gun) vs. The Shield (Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, & Roman Reigns)
The Shield do not need to break up. While I'm frustrated by this being a PPV matchup for them, I'm hoping that it delays their inevitable breakup for several months. Kane should be in the battle royal. The Outlaws should be on some shindie nostalgia show a few miles away.
The pace of the match at the beginning suggested this match was not long for the world. Reigns dominated a bit. Kane goozled him, but Rollins took him out with a tope con hello. NOA ate stereo tope suicidas from Rollins and Ambrose. Reigns hit everyone with a spear. NOA then ate the triple team powerbomb at the same time: 1…2…3
Well, if you're going to have a squash on Wrestlemania, I'm perfectly happy with The Shield squashing three guys who should not even be on the active roster. Match Rating: SQUASH
There was some backstage "comedy" with Ricky Steamboat, Jim Duggan, Sgt. Slaughter, Ron Simmons, Ted DiBiase, and others.
Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal The Big Show vs. Sheamus vs. Alberto Del Rio vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Mark Henry vs. Goldust vs. Cody Rhodes vs. The Great Khali vs. Yoshi Tatsu vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Darren Young vs. Big E. vs. Brad Maddox vs. Heath Slater vs. Cesaro vs. Santino Marella vs. Brodus Clay vs. Jinder Mahal vs. Drew McIntyre vs. Sin Cara vs. Fandango vs. R-Truth vs. Titus O'Neill vs. Zack Ryder vs. Xavier Woods vs. The Miz vs. Justin Gabriel vs. Damien Sandow vs. David Otunga vs. Tyson Kidd
Yoshi Tatsu! It was a battle royal. It was not good. Besides the existence of Yoshi Tatsu, nothing in the early stages of the match was worth noting. Miz, with his awful AJ Styles haircut, got eliminated by the fucking Cobra. Hilarious. Holy shit, I did not recognize Gabriel with his new hair. Fandango eliminated Big E. from the apron and then danced around the apron. Sheamus eliminated him. I thought Tyson Kidd was Evan Bourne returning without any fanfare. Del Rio was late to eliminating Goldust, which caused Goldust to look like a moron hanging out on the apron. Oh my gawd, I need Rey vs. Cesaro. Rey went for a springboard move, but Cesaro eliminated him with an uppercut. Cesaro sent Kofi to the floor, but Kofi managed to keep his feet on the steps despite lying down on the ground. That was clever and serves to make the rules look stupid. A lot of finishers were hit. Dolph tried to skin the cat, but Del Rio hit a kneeling superkick. Sheamus and Del Rio eliminated themselves. Cesaro vs. Big Show for the trophy. Cesaro eventually hit an uppercut and then POWERSLAMMED BIG SHOW OVER THE TOPE ROPE! HE GETS THE ANDRE THE GIANT'S BULGE TROPHY!
The finish was perfect. A bunch of people got paydays. Yoshi Tatsu. I enjoyed this. Match Rating: **3/4
John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt (w/ Luke Harper & Erick Rowan)
They played the Eminem hype video package before the match. Ok, I know this has been brought up before, but why can we see Bray before he lights his torch and not after he blows it out? Also, why do that if he's just going to have an electronic torch on the way to the ring? It's so goshdarn stupid. Bray's music was performed live.
In what will historically be known as the biggest controversy since Watergate, Bray Wyatt was not wearing white pants. Bray got on his knees and told John to finish him. Then they just started having a match. The crowd got restless fairly early on. The crowd seemed to be in no mood for the story they were trying to tell. They're doing the Dark Knight Joker/Batman deal with Bray laughing as Cena beats him up. Cena was running through Bray and making angry faces. John Cena screamed sleeper, and Bray then applied a sleeper. Weird. Is Cena some sort of seer? Cena made a comeback. He went for the Five Knuckle Shuffle, but Bray did the Exorcist deleted scene spot. That's the official name of that move. Bray cut him off with a Rock Bottom. Cena went for his labored diving FameAsser spot, but Bray, thankfully, caught him with a diving powerbomb for a nearfall. Cena finally hit the Five Knuckle Shuffle. Bray reversed the AA into a gutbuster. Bray hit an apron DDT. He's been studying his PWG tapes.
Michael Cole keeps trying to get over the "fight for Cena's legacy" idea. That's an awful story line that does not make any sense. How is Cena's legacy harmed by losing this match? How is it harmed by beating up a psychopath in an official fighting contest that both men have agreed to? He's not Batman and literally has to stop himself from killing another human being. The only way Cena's story line legacy is harmed is if/when he does the Bash at the Beach 1996 turn.
Cena took out Harper and Rowan with a plancha. It would have been cooler if he hit them with John SuiCena. Cena went to use the steel steps on Bray, but Cena refused out of some misplaced sense of nobility. Steel steps and announce tables have been established as legal objects in WWE matches. Cena caught him with an AA: 1…2…NO! Cena speared Harper through the barricade. Bray seemed genuinely worried, which is the first time I have ever seen him do that. Back in the ring, Cena reversed Sister Abigail into the STF. Bray survived and hit Sister Abigail: 1…2…NO! "Bray's learning about Hustle, Loyalty, and Respect." Michael Cole has to say some of the worst bile. Rowan distracted the referee. Wyatt gave Cena a chair. He told him to "ruin his legacy." This would not ruin Cena's legacy. This would make him a moron who got disqualified for no reason. Cena used the chair on Rowan instead. Wyatt got a nearfall with a schoolboy. Wyatt went for Sister Abigail, but Cena reversed it into an AA: 1…2…3.
"Cena's legacy grows." "Cena stayed true to himself. He stayed true to the Cenation." Vomit.
Cena defeating Wyatt is so short sighted on so many levels that it hardly seems worth it to list them all. I have zero problem with Cena as an in-ring performer. He's put on so many great matches during his WWE career, and he will eventually be remembered as one of the best WWE performers ever. However, his character is staler than a CBS Friday night procedural. He needs to lose more in important matches to become interesting. That is how storytelling works for heroes who appear on our screens every week of the year.
The match itself was an admirable effort. They got me invested in the story that they were going for (despite the massive holes in the story). They managed to create the necessary drama needed for an above-average Wrestlemania match, but they did not stick the landing. Match Rating: ***
They did the WWE Hall of Fame segment after that. Paul Bearer was represented by his sons. Ultimate Warrior got the main event announcement (complete with entrance music).
The Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar (w/ Paul Heyman)
I have not seen any of the television building up this match (I even finally got spared from continuing to watch the wretched "NXT" program), but I have been assured that the build for this matchup was horrible. Hopefully, the match will overcome that. Taker and Punk managed to do that last year. I have more faith in this matchup, but as the years go on, it's getting harder and harder to believe that Taker can keep up his real streak of having the best match at Wrestlemania.(going on six or seven years depending on how you feel about 2007).
The hype video for the match wisely featured Paul Heyman being Paul Heyman. Hopefully, Paul Heyman will remain on WWE TV after this show. Undertaker's entrance is longer than the penis on Brock Lesnar's chest. Undertaker looks like an old person who moved to Florida and kind of tries to stay in shape. Also, an old goth person who does not abide by the pale standards of their breed. I have a sinking feeling this will not be good, but I am such a cynic. I hope I am so fucking wrong. Unlike the last five years, there is no buzz in the crowd at the start of the Undertaker match. That is not a good sign. Ok, the crowd is trying to talk themselves into it. Taker was going after Brock's left arm early on. Yes, this match needs subtle limb work. Shades of HHH/Brock I doing a diverticulitis story line of nowhere. They teased finishers early. Taker got caught up in the turnbuckle after his yakuza kick failed just like every time ever. Brock started going after Taker's right leg. Subtle limb work. I cannot wait for this match to be awesome and then for my cynical recap make me seem like a huge douche in retrospect. Brock tanning his upper body but keeping his milky white legs is the clear highlight so far tonight. Brock was in control for a while. Taker caught Brock with his running DDT out of nowhere. Taker made a comeback. This match is as enthralling as Brock's classic with Triple H last year. Taker hit a chokeslam for a nearfall. The crowd charitably bit on that. Brock hit the F5 for a nearfall. Unfortunately, Brock does not have any other over finishers. Taker played possum and caught him with Hell's Gate. Rampage powerbomb from Brock. Brock dragged Taker back to the center of the ring, but Taker caught him in Hell's Gate again. A second Rampage powerbomb. Brock got the kimura. Taker reversed it into a kimura on the worked-over arm. The subtle limb work earlier in the match pays off~! Taker went for a second Old School. Brock reversed it into a F5: 1…2…NO! The first real nearfall of the match. Brock hit two Germans. This match is very long for reasons that were clearly misguided. Brock, like a cliché WWE idiot villain, went for the ten punches in the corner, but Taker hit a shitty powerbomb. Taker then hit a tombstone, and Brock's head missed the mat by a mile: 1…2…NO! Taker went for another tombstone, but Brock hit another F5: 1…2…3!
I really cannot believe what I just saw. I can only assume Taker is retiring, because his character's lone purpose for years now has been defending the streak at Wrestlemania. His retirement was clearly implied by the commentators who talked about him like he was retiring without ever saying it.
If this was Taker's last match, I feel like I should say a few words about his career and how I will remember him. The Undertaker was truly one of the most memorable and important characters in the history of professional wrestling. While he had some great matches during his first fifteen years in the WWF/E, he mostly stayed over because of his character and consistently strong push (that often saw him mow down talent that could have been better served by feuding with other opponents or defeating him). I strongly believe if The Undertaker retired before 2006, his legacy would be considered a mixed-bag at best. Luckily for him and us, 2006 saw a rebirth for him in the ring despite all logic telling us wrestlers do not peak twenty years into their careers and/or after they get on the wrong side of forty.
No Mercy 2006 saw him have a fantastic main event with Kurt Angle, and if you go back and watch that match now, you'll see how much better looks there compared to the previous eight years in the company. Sadly, WWE did not catch on to his rebirth and continued to stick with a bunch of shitty opponents (Mark Henry, The Great Khali, Mr. Kennedy, The Big Show, and others) in 2006. Fortunately, by 2007, The Undertaker started to get booked much better and it was off to the races in terms of getting in as many great matches with him as possible (not to imply that it was a conscience effort on creative's part).
It all started with him and Shawn Michaels tearing down the house in the 2007 Royal Rumble. From there, he went on to arguably steal the show in what was arguably the best match of the 2007 Wrestlemania with Batista. Very few were confident in that match going in (Batista looked dreadful in proceeding months), but they proved all of the doubters wrong. The next eighteen months saw Undertaker have a variety of good to great matches with Batista and Edge. While the triple threat match the men had (Armageddon 2007) was disappointing, the singles matches usually delivered. The Undertaker and Edge ended Wrestlemania 2008 in spectacular fashion in another overachieving match. Edge and Undertaker continued to feud throughout the summer in a series of matches that ranged from good to very good.
If one were still cynical about Taker's recent newfound status as a guy capable of carrying someone to a good match instead of someone needing to be carried, he actually had good matches with THE BIG SHOW! Their No Mercy 2008 match was particularly good (though I recall their feud ending on a DUD. Oh well, The Big Show is only capable of not sucking for so long). 2009 saw the peak of The Undertaker's career: the Wrestlemania 2009 match with Shawn Michaels.
If you accept that there is such a thing as "WWE main event style," then the Wrestlemania 2009 match between those two legends was that style executed to perfection in one of the most exciting experiences in wrestling history. It is one of the greatest matches of all time. After taking some time off though, Taker came back in the autumn and reverted back to his old ways. His feud with CM Punk killed off the latter's momentum for no justifiable reason, and Taker seemed less motivated in the ring. His matches were not necessarily bad, but they also were not especially good (and definitely not memorable in positive ways). It was at this point that WWE and Undertaker should have realized that if he came off the road for all but Wrestlemania season, they could have stretched out his Wrestlemania streak for much, much longer and not given up much of significance in return.
2010 was the best of times and the worst of times for The Undertaker. He concluded one of the best feuds of all time with Shawn Michaels. Then he had one of the worst main event trilogies of all time with Kane in autumn. I will forever think that this dumpster fire of a trilogy with Kane was such a waste of Taker's body. The Undertaker may have agreed, as he pretty much only worked Wrestlemanias after his last feud with Kane came to a close. He stole the show twice with Triple H (2011 and 2012) and then saved the show with CM Punk in 2013. From 2007 until 2013, Undertaker had seven great matches at Wrestlemania.
Unfortunately, Taker went out on his first weak Wrestlemania match since 2006. He clearly was not moving around too well, and it's hard not to think that he knew this had to be his last Mania match ever. Taker probably required Bryan to make his last match a great match though (that scoop about Taker requesting Bryan this year certainly seems more believable now), and I don't really put much of the blame on Brock. He and Brock just never got going, and it made the finish into an anti-climatic fart instead of a truly huge win for Brock. The crowd was in such disbelief that they couldn't even give Undertaker that special "Thank you!" moment that the WWE was clearly counting on.
I will probably always have bitter feelings about this match. Much like the live crowd, I really wanted to like it, but I never truly got into it. It seemed completely unbelievable to me that Brock Lesnar would win, and his win felt unsatisfying in so many ways. The Undertaker is a legend, but it seems like he stayed one year too long. He was not the first, and he will not be the last. Match Rating: **1/4
It seemed like everyone was really trying to make the most of this experience. There were a couple of spots that amused me, and that is the most one can hope for in a situation such as this. Match Rating: **
Gene Okerlund, Roddy Piper, Paul Orndoff, and Hulk Hogan did a clunky comedy segment. Mr. T showed up. Mene Gene called it a "Wrestlemania moment." Shades of John McCain calling himself a maverick.
Bryan's left shoulder is all messed up still. Two men in, one man out to start the match. I am not a fan of that. There was some brawling on the floor. Dave used lime green instead of pink for his gear. I do not approve. Orton was in control for a bit. Bryan caught them with a double missile dropkick. Luckily, they did a little bit less of the cliché WWE triple threat formula. Bryan got Orton in the Yes! lock. Triple H and Stephanie McMahon ran down to ringside. Batista hit Bryan with a spinebuster and a Big Dave Bomb, as Scott Armstrong, the crooked referee, showed up: 1…2…NO! Does Triple H pop the collar of his track jacket? That is the greatest thing I have ever seen. Bryan kicked Armstrong in the head. Bryan wiped out HHH, Armstrong, and Stephanie with a tope suicida! HHH took out his sledgehammer. Bryan got the hammer and hit HHH in the face with it! Schoolboy on Big Dave, but Orton stopped it. HHH and Stephanie were taken to the back. Big Dave and Orton worked together on Bryan. "CM Punk!" chants. Yea, WWE had to know that chant was inevitable with this booking. Big Dave and Orton managed to do a powerbomb/neckbreaker combo on Bryan through the SAT (the table, not the tag team). Orton's back was cut open. They brought out a stretcher for Bryan. Big Dave helped Orton to his feet but then gave him a lariat. Big Dave and Orton went at it. Bryan was being stretchered up the ramp, but he fought off the EMTs and got off the stretcher. He could not walk. Orton went for a RKO, but Bryan reversed it into the Yes! Lock! Big Dave ruined the day. YES! LOCK! on Big Dave! Orton ruined the day. Dave speared Bryan, but then ate the RKO: 1…2…NO! Orton called for the concussion punt on Dave, but Bryan caught him with the Busaiku Knee! Dave tossed him from the ring and pinned Orton: 1…2…NO! BIG DAVE BOMB ON ORTON! BUSAIKU KNEE ON BIG DAVE! YES! LOCK! BIG DAVE TAPS!
This was a great main event for Wrestlemania. WWE booked a lot of awful finishes in the past eight months to get to this point, but at least the payoff was spectacular. Speculation about how this match got made or who was supposed to be in what match originally is completely irrelevant. On the screen, Daniel Bryan got thrown every roadblock possible between Summerslam and Wrestlemania, and he overcame them all on the biggest professional wrestling event of the year to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship in the main event. All five performers (six, if you include Scott Armstrong) did a great job to get this match over and ensure that the finish was, in fact, a genuine "Wrestlemania moment" that I will treasure forever.
However, much like Cena fighting for "his legacy," I have a bone to pick with the presentation of this story line. Cole kept talking about this being a miracle and that this was the night Daniel Bryan "arrived." However, Bryan's story over the last eight months is one of revenge. If he had a moment where he "arrived," it was defeating John Cena clean as a sheet at Summerslam 2013 in the main event for the WWE Championship. The Authority stole that moment from him, and he was taking it back. Bryan was not an underdog for any reason other than outside factors. Match Rating: ****
The 411: While it was far from perfect, Wrestlemania was a tremendously entertaining show that I will look back fondly on. The Daniel Bryan story carried the show, but there were a lot of other moments that helped to make the show seem important. The opening talking bit probably lasted a tad too long, but it was unique and the crowd ate it up. The Shield and Antonio Cesaro went over Attitude Era names in decisive fashion. John Cena and Bray Wyatt tried to put on a very different match from your typical WWE big singles match. On top of all that, the Undertaker's Wrestlemania streak ended in what will likely be the last match of his career. Huge thumbs up for Wrestlemania, and I recommend that everyone check it out.