Sunday has come and gone and yet another Wrestlemania is in the books. The hype surrounding this one was so big that there was no way it wouldn't deliver right? Right?! Well, I can't say that it was a BAD pay-per-view or anything but it certainly didn't feel up to the standards of the greatest spectacle in all of wrestling. Come with me on a journey through my thoughts on Wrestlemania 27.
The waiting had come to an end. Wrestlemania was finally here. I huddled in front of a big screen TV with 12 other friends in hopes that this year's Mania would, at the very least, top 26. You had The King of Kings facing off against the Deadman! Daniel Bryan v. Sheamus for the US title! Mysterio v. Rhodes! A six-man tag match with the Corre! That'll be great! Del Rio v. Edge for the Heavyweight Title! Miz v. Cena and probably the Rock thrown in for good measure! There's no WAY this could have disappointed yet it did. I found myself, at times, asking what the hell did WWE creative think they were doing here? What's with some of these choices and why were some of these matches booked the way they were?
Alright so we start the night off with the Great One coming out and hyping the crowd. He's the host so there's nothing I found terrible about that. We have the typical Rock promo here and it's good as always. It was, perhaps, a bit long but oh well I relish those times where we get to see the silver-tongued pie-eater work his magic. It soon came to my attention, however that there was a dark match before this. Sheamus v. Daniel Bryan. Are you kidding me? That felt like a damn slap to my face. I have to wonder how the Celt and Bryan felt about it. You have two guys who are great performers that get relegated to a friggin' DARK match that ends up morphing into a Battle Royal that Great Khali won? The fact that these two guys, who are excellent workers and deserving of a big push like a match at Mania would bring, got squashed like that was just awful. That match definitely had the potential to steal the show, but oh well. Another strike against WWE's booking decisions there.
Alright. Next up we had Edge v. Del Rio at the top of the show. This worried me a bit because, well, it's a god damn title match and it's the FIRST match? It felt short because it was and it ended with a sub-par spear on Edge's part. Del Rio should have kicked out but instead the title remains in Edge's hands. I wasn't really upset about due to my prediction Edge would win anyways but I would have loved to see a Christian heel-turn or just a longer match. They could have put on a good show but instead were relegated to twenty minutes of just decent work.
Del Rio will have his opportunity to take the title and, honestly, if Sin Cara turns out like I hope he does we'll see some primo feuding between the two in the future I bet. Nonetheless, Edge retained the title and trashed Del Rio's beautiful car after. So, that was cool I guess.
Rhodes came out in, as fellow ZG contributor Sam Hurt pointed out, his best Dr. Doom outfit. That idea was tossed around between us a few times and the more I heard it the more I liked it. The Rhodes angle is good, but could be a million times better if he indeed started to attack those around him because he thought he was ugly. The clear face mask needs to go, though, and have it replaced with something in a deep crimson or something else maybe. The red mask would have been appropriate considering Rey Mystero's outfit! That's right folks! We've got Rey Mysterio as Captain friggin' America. The outfit aside the match was actually pretty good, I felt, and once again proved to me that Rhodes is a guy to watch out for. I hope that they continue to evolve his character further and take him much deeper into the maw of villainy.
The six-man tag match was going to be a joke and everyone present knew it. I just don't think we were prepared for how awful a joke. This was a squash job from the minute the bell rang. You've got Heath "I'm Terrible" Slater out there to start us off and from there it was only downhill. The match ends in about 3 minutes with a Santino "Cobra" and a Big Show fist to the face. Just awful. So, the Corre is supposed to be good right? Why destroy their credibility like that? I know the "good guys" are going to win most of the time but damn why do that? Yet another instance of me shaking my head and asking "What the hell were they thinking here?" No photo included because, well, what's the point. It was a terrible match that was a waste of about ten minutes considering all the entrances and what not.
There was a segment involving Snoop Dogg tossed in somewhere around this point I think. It was just painful to watch and ended with Hornswaggle throwin' out a bit of flow. Bad WWE! BAD! That was an abysmal segment, but thankfully not all the backstage segments were. There was a great bit involving the Rock and Mae Young that I definitely enjoyed not to mention a direct face-to-face meeting with Steve Austin. The tension in that moment was just fantastic. There were, however, no seeds sowed for a potential future clash between the two.
Wrestlemania rolled right along though and brought us to the next stop: Orton v. Punk. The seeds of this feud were sown over two years ago and, well, it's been mostly a one-sided affair. Punk does his best in trying to deliver every single promo and every match but Orton does what Orton always does. Punk dominated most of this match, but of course Randy hits the Randy KO from out of nowhere and wins. Disappointed a bit by this but we got to CM Punk work and that's always welcome. Seriously the guy is going to be a humongous star in this company in the near future and I can't wait to see how far he can take this dark messiah type character he's been cultivating for some time now. If he could only get a good stable then he'd really start to shine I think.
The 2011 Hall of Fame inductees were brought out next and, well, there wasn't much to complain about here. One of the biggest pops of the night came from when HBK strode up the walkway looking quite dapper in his tuxedo. Hacksaw Jim Duggan gets major props for having a bow-tie on his 2x4 as well! I'll be watching the ceremony tonight before RAW and, well, I expect I might have something in my eye whenever Michaels gives his speech.
The Jerry Lawler and Michael Cole match soon followed. Stone Cold, as expected, rode out on his ATV and started cursing up a storm. The match itself was, well, what you'd expect it to be. Cole didn't do a whole hell of a lot while Lawler got to work out the frustration of years spent only behind a commentators desk on our good buddy, Michael Cole. Swagger, Cole's trainer, even threw in the towel at one point but Steve Austin just wiped his head with it and tossed it back. Lawler won the match with an Ankle Lock and, to no one's surprise, there were Steveweisers a plenty tossed out.
Booker T even felt like joining in the celebration. STUNNER! Man he sold the HELL out of it too by flipping over what I think was twenty-eight times. It was a very good moment and a great reminder of why the Attitude era was so damn fun. Josh Matthews also got a stunner as well after reading an announcement from the RAW GM. Lawler was disqualified due to Stone Cold pushing Cole down or something of that nature. That puts the Stone Cold Stunner Count at three for the night! We had a running joke of an over/under on Stunners for the whole PPV. Sadly I would have lost considering I expected there to be at least six. Oh well!
The best part about the match, aside from seeing Steve Austin be Steve Austin, was that Jim Ross took over and the rest of the night had his commentary. The man just makes matches better if he's calling them.
The action kept rolling as we were now to what promised to be the match of the night: Undertaker v. Triple H. Hunter decided to go all-out and enter to "For Whom The Bell Tolls" by Metallica. He even had a ridiculously awesome crown and skull mask complete with robes and regalia. It was flat-out epic as the shields of the phalanx peeled away to reveal him standing in a single shaft of light. Seriously. It was awesome.
Undertaker came out to his usual entrance with the newer "Ain't No Grave" song by Johnny Cash he's been using as of late. This was already looking promising and, brother, these two veterans delivered on the promise of this match.
This was physical. This was brutal. There were spots all over the place and man this match turned out to be really damn good. I had my worries about this match because, well, Undertaker matches can either turn out like the Shawn Michaels two-pack or something like the Giant Gonzales. Nonetheless I was already pretty hopped up about this bout considering the entrance by Triple H. I'd have to say it definitely trumped WM 22's entrance where he looked like the barbarian king on his throne.
So, that match itself, as I said, was worthy of the title "No Holds Barred". It was brutal at times and man was it fun to watch. You had JR offering commentary and I liked his approach to it. He let the visuals speak for themselves and offered more of a baseball man's sort of audio to accompany it. It was glorious and this turned out to be the match of the night BY FAR. The ending I disagree with only in that Triple H tapped out. I had assumed that if any sort of submission was involved that he would just pass out from it rather than give up. I have to wonder now if this sets up for a clash next year or if maybe Hunter is going to turn his focus to the backstage area more now.
The physical toll was REALLY apparent on Undertaker who, at 46, is starting to really show his age and just how this hard-nosed style of match wears on a man his size. He gave it his all though and I was impressed. I really felt that, in the end, both Triple H and Undertaker left everything out on the mat and we, the WWE Universe, are the better for it. Thank you both, seriously, from the bottom of this fan's heart, for putting on such an amazing show.
So, we've had the highlight of the night now but there's still some wrestlin' left to go! Does that mean the rest was awful in comparison? Yes and no. The mixed tag match involving Snooki was awful, as expected, and Morrison/Ziggler didn't really do much of anything in it. Snooki won and, well that's all I have to say about it.
So, all that's left is Miz v. Cena for the WWE title. I had high hopes for this I'll admit because, well, The Miz has proven to me over the course of the last month that he deserves this belt. Cena, on the other hand, has had moments of good performance mired down by the usual crap he dishes out.
There was a time a while back that I actually really liked Cena. I still do, to a certain extent, but he is such a face these days that I feel they've actually done all they can to nearly kill the character. He's popular and sells merchandise like no other star but what happened to Thuganomics? What happened to the John Cena that had the power to destroy his opponents physically and verbally? It's just not there anymore. All that said the entrances for both were actually pretty good. Miz had the better of the two with a GREAT video featuring "Hate Me Now" as the theme. It fit the character he's been crafting so well and left me wishing that he could just stick with that as his theme song. Cena had a full choir out singing his theme song and video accompanying it that featured DMX reading off some sort of spiritual statement about prayer and overcoming adversity. It wasn't "as good" as the Miz's segment but still decent.
The match itself suffered from a lack of interest, until the very end, by the crowd present there. It felt like the crowd was already worn out from the Taker/HHH match and just didn't feel like they were into it. Cena was booed vigorously throughout the match and, overall, it could have been a lot better. Miz kicking out of the Attitude Adjustment, though, was big and I was glad to see that they kept him in a strong position. Well, he was until the Rock decided to intervene.
The match ended in a count-out of all things. The Rock would have no such thing and restarted the match. Cena soon sees the mat via a thunderous Rock Bottom and Miz retains not just once (thanks to the count-out) but twice. Miz is soon dealt with as well thanks to the most electrifying move in all of sports entertainment, the People's Elbow.
The Cena/Rock feud is now FIRMLY in place and I think this coming RAW will further cement things in that respect. I was glad to see that the WWE feels that the Miz is strong enough to continue carrying the title and I think he will only further reaffirm that faith in the coming months. The thing that needs to happen from all of this is that Cena NEEDS to turn heel. If he is going to stay relevant over the next few years there needs to be a shake up for the character. He needs to return to being a brash rapper again who constantly cuts great promos. He cut a LOT of good ones while he was a heel and gaining a foothold in the business. He needs to return to that place again because the fans, aside from the younger set, just aren't buying it anymore.
So, the night ended with The Rock celebrating his "victory" over both Cena and Miz. I made my way home and started to digest the evening as a whole.
It didn't live up to the hype for me except for the Taker/HHH match. That was a classic and will go down as one of the better matches Hunter has EVER had. If this is it for him, well, he went out on a really high note and as for Taker? I've heard that maybe he actually was injured badly in all of this and I hope he's okay. He did, however, put on one hell of a show and for that we all thank him.
The rest of the show had its moments but overall it could have been better. Was it the "Worst Wrestlemania EVER!" as some folks are claiming? Hardly. It wasn't the best either.
OVERALL GRADE: B+ (The Taker/HHH match really helped salvage it)