WWE ran its biggest show of the year last night (Sun., April 6, 2014) at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana, with the WrestleMania 30 pay-per-view (PPV) extravaganza that featured an interesting night of odd booking, then great booking, then baffling booking, but a lot of really fun stuff.
To get complete blow-by-blow coverage of the entire event click here.
With this being WrestleMania, a regular reactions theme simply won't cut it, so we'll go through the card match-by-match and respond accordingly. As usual, these were written in real time as the show went along. Let's get to it:
USOS VS. RYBAXEL VS. REAL AMERICANS VS. LOS MATADORES
- Dear god, the Ryback/Curtis Axel mash-up theme might be the worst sound ever produced by WWE, and that's really saying something. Axel was at his most annoying on the biggest stage, screaming uncontrollably for reasons no one has figured out jst yet.
- The one thing we really got from this match was how amazing the stage set up and entrances would be for all the big names to come later. It looked about as aesthetically pleasing as possible, all things considered. That's a weird thing to be excited about, of course, but that's what WWE does for big shows like this. They somehow get you hyped for entrances.
- Los Matadores going out first surely had those of us who watched the Hall of Fame ceremony thinking Carlito was to blame, right? If so, to hell with Carlito because this meant we didn't get to see a Cesaro Swing on El Torito. To say that was disappointing is putting it mildly.
- Greatly enjoyed the spot late in the match with The Usos and Real Americans working their gimmicks to the crowd and squaring off like two titan tag teams. The Usos double suicide dives were rough, but the chaotic nature of tag team matches is always fun, especially when everyone's got their timing down just right.
- I would have rather Cesaro broke up with Swagger on Raw tomorrow night but it sure was fun watching him refuse Swagger's handshake while 70,000 fans were begging for him to lay waste to his partner.
- Hulk Hogan opening WrestleMania was fine with me because while I may not necessarily practice tradition, I do have respect for it. This man WAS WrestleMania for the first decade of its existence. It's entirely possible we wouldn't be here if not for Hulk Hogan. It doesn't matter how much you know about his politics and his gigantic ego and ridiculous lies.
- Then he botched the line about being in the Silverdome instead of the Superdome. They were turning on him. It was amazing.
- Then the glass shattered and Stone Cold Steve Austin came out to interrupt Hulk and I was done. This was a special moment, even though I knew there would be no Stunner and no real confrontation. They had a staredown and it was great. This was huge. It was everything we could want. Then Austin ribbed Hogan for botching his lines and my god, BEST NIGHT EVER. Short but sweet promo.
- Then The Rock's music hit and I just cannot fucking do this anymore. I died. In that moment, I died. I shouted like a kid who just opened the best Christmas present he would ever receive. They really did manage to do something special and I can see why Rock and Austin came back for this. WrestleMania 30: Austin, Hogan, Rock; all in the same ring at the same time. This was just so damn cool.
DANIEL BRYAN VS. TRIPLE H
- Opening with this match feels like the right call to me, depending on how they play the booking later.
- Triple H's entrance theme was awesome. I read arguments that it was campy and silly and other lame terms like that but I wonder why the hell those people watch such a campy and silly thing like pro wrestling then bitch about it being too campy and silly. Of all the things to be critical of, WWE going all out Game of Thrones style for Triple H's entrance really isn't one of them.
- We knew the "YES" chants from the crowd would both sound and look impressive. But actually seeing it in HD on a big screen television was something to behold. It was almost as surreal as Mr. T talking about his mom's urinary tract at the Hall of Fame ceremony during his induction speech.
- Loved Triple H opening the match by hanging back and letting the moment breathe. He's got years and years of experience in the industry that have led him to knowing exactly how to play a moment like this. It was already going to feel big because of the stakes and the build to the match, but he made it feel that much bigger.
- I can't do the match justice. Triple H was rocking moves he should never rock, Bryan was masterful in his selling of the shoulder injury, and they absolutely did the right thing booking this exactly the way they should have booked it. Kudos to all involved here.
ANDRE THE GIANT MEMORIAL BATTLE ROYAL
- Immediately it was a disappointment because Big Show and Sheamus, the two blandest of babyfaces, were the only two to get entrances and the three unannounced spots weren't made a big deal at all. Why bother leaving those three spots open if they weren't going to make a big thing of it, or even a thing of it at all?
- Did Sheamus really have to beat the eve loving shit out of Fandango the way he did? And after New Orleans brought Fandangoing back?
- Kofi Kingston is an insane person who does insane things every time he's asked without ever failing. They book him to do crazy spots that have a high risk of making him look silly in front of the largest audiences WWE draws, and he always comes through. His entire career is being built on this.
- Cesaro winning this match was a legitimately awesome surprise. He wasn't even supposed to be in it, then Christian suffered a concussion and WWE decided to get behind Cesaro and push. The way he won was a nice little homage to Andre too, what with the whole amazing feat of strength picking Big Show up like he was slamming him over the top for the victory. Super, super cool that the Super, Superdome immediately recognized the spot and went nuts for it.
BRAY WYATT VS. JOHN CENA
- Bray Wyatt's character lends itself wonderfully to the campy and oftentimes creepy world of pro wrestling. And while many thought a heel act shouldn't get a live band playing him out to the ring, they really set the mood just right for the match by having them play him out and giving him plenty of time to freak the crowd out.
- Okay, I was freaked out too.
- John Cena started off by treating the match seriously, so at least he didn't just totally forget the story they were trying to tell and bury it completely by laughing and smiling while talking to the camera during his entrance. I absolutely expected as much.
- This match. Cena really chewed up the scenery here and while the hamming it up is normally grating, it worked here. This is everything Kane was supposed to do when he was telling John to "embrace the hate" instead of rising above it. Wyatt was just here to expose the hate and this actually worked because Bray was getting to him and it felt like it meant something.
- We've now seen the very best counter to that stupid ass five-knuckle shuffle. I'm not sure we'll ever get anything better than Wyatt doing that spider crawl right when Cena came off the ropes and Cena selling pants shitting terror at the sight that greeted him. Extra points for Cena adjusting later when he went through with the move the second time.
- Heels are born to lose. With that being said, John Cena winning was not the right decision here, not even a little bit. Maybe they stretch this and Wyatt eventually does something special but while the storytelling in this match was amazing, the end was not. I was thoroughly enjoying the proceedings all the way up until the end when WWE just gut punched me with the same old bullshit we've been getting for nearly a decade. And John Cena will have you think he's really helping the young guys here, working the mid-card and giving them good matches.
HALL OF FAME 2014 CLASS
- Ultimate Warrior got his entrance music played over the speakers for a nice little moment during the show. But he didn't run down and shake the ropes. That made this a waste of time, though they only spent a couple minutes on it.
UNDERTAKER VS. BROCK LESNAR
- Undertaker's entrance wasn't as good as last year, but I really liked the hubris of having the caskets laid out and Lesnar's already there with 22-0 on it. There's something to like about extremely talented stars who know they're extremely talented and aren't afraid of pushing that they're extremely talented. This was Undertaker's small way of doing that.
- The crowd was absolutely dead for most of this match, and rightfully so. They worked it really, really slow. I don't mind having Lesnar play up his power but it felt contrived somehow, like we knew what was coming and we also knew Lesnar had no shot at winning. You could argue the booking of the story leading into this match had a lot to do with the muted reactions, and you wouldn't be wrong.
- To really demonstrate the problems with this match, the Old School getting countered into an F-5, the second of the match, should have been a truly thrilling false finish. Instead, it was just another kickout while we waited for the end.
- Lesnar's ass crack made an appearance in this match. It was awful. This was bad.
- Welp, just let me sit here and hate everything about this. I cannot believe they ended the streak like this. Undertaker's streak has finally fallen, and it has fallen to Brock Lesnar. That dude is probably my favorite pro wrestler and I hate this. The match was shitty and they gave the streak to a part-timer. I just don't know.
DIVAS CHAMPIONSHIP INVITATIONAL
- After the streak ended, it was impossible to get into this. These ladies were given the death spots of all death spots and it showed. No one cared, including me and I can't act like I did.
- Okay, I will say the Bella twins confrontation was kind of cool and AJ Lee winning was even cooler.
RANDY ORTON VS. BATISTA VS. DANIEL BRYAN
- Again, still so much shock from Lesnar's win that these Rev Theory clowns coming out and playing this awful metal bullshit song for Randy Orton sucked so much harder than it would have otherwise. Like, it was always going to suck something fierce but wow, the last thing I need is some weird looking black haired screaming idiot screaming about voices talking to him.
- They were selling Extreme Rules during Batista's entrance and I couldn't help but think about ending the streak on the first ever WWE Network PPV. I just don't know.
- When Daniel Bryan was making his entrance, the idea of his losing made me think there would literally be riots at the arena. We say that so much it has no real meaning, especially considering there absolutely are instances when fans riot at events they aren't happy about, like sporting outings. There were reports of fans leaving after Undertaker lost, Cena had won... I just don't want to think of it.
- It also occurred to me that maybe Undertaker's streak would hurt the impact of Bryan's title win, if that's what would happen. The fans were loud and proud for the introduction, though, so we'll see.
- As expected, Bryan was absolutely the reason the fans managed to continue to care about this event, and he carried the match like WWE was expecting him to. I cannot even begin to fathom what would have happened had Orton vs. Batista gone on last after everything that's happened tonight.
- Then Triple H and Stephanie McMahon ran in and after all this time, Scott Armstrong made a comeback. It was a really great bit of continuity, and after some insanity that featured Bryan hitting a suicide dive on Triple H, Stephanie, and Armstrong, the sledgehammer showed up and things got really crazy. The crowd was fully invested by this point, and all of them were behind Bryan in a big way.
- Michael Cole is AWFUL.
- This match, by its end, was something special. The air was still sucked out of the building because of the Undertaker loss but they still created some incredible moments. One of the best was Orton jumping over a spear from Batista that crashed into Bryan, causing him to roll out of the ring, and Orton's follow up RKO felt like the end. After everything, it would have been the ultimate gut punch, a serious shot to the nads that you couldn't recover from. But Batista kicked out, and we cheered him for it. But we cheered because it meant Bryan was still in it. Then Bryan came back in and hit the flying knee on Orton but before he could get the pin, Batista threw him out, making us hate him that much more. This match was laid out beatifully, especially because the finish was Batista bombing Orton then Bryan hitting the flying knee on Batista and tapping him with the YES Lock. It was perfect. It was an amazing way to end a surreal night filled with greatness.
They told a 21 year story with the streak and then ended it with such little fanfare that I can't help but hate how little justice was done to it. You don't short change a story like this. You just don't. Still, everything else on the card was outstanding.
That's it from me, Cagesiders. Now it's your turn to sound off in the comments section below with all your thoughts on last night's show. How did you like it, if you liked it at all?