What you need to know
It was a sunny day in Northern California. Six or so hours of sports entertainment were set to go down in Levi's Stadium, with 70,000 plus wrestling fans present to see it happen, and millions (and millions) more watching around the globe.
Despite a lackluster build to their biggest show of the year, WWE did not disappoint at WrestleMania.
A whole lot of talking on the pre-show lead us took a couple of quick breaks for matches. Tyson Kidd & Cesaro are still your tag team champions. Impressive as they are, that may largely be because one of the Usos has a busted wing, and there are no other tag teams. Recent tag champs Miz & Mizdow seem to be done for good after the stunt double turned personal assistant finally stood up to his boss and dumped him from the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. Damien was denied more of a moment when The Big Show sent him packing as well. If it's any consolation, neither NXT tournament winner Hideo Itami nor Axelmania were allowed to run wild themselves.
To ring in what used to be known as the pay-per-view (PPV) portion of the show, we were treated to a ladder match that was responsible for awe-inspiring and cringe-worthy moments - notably Intercontinental champ Bad News Barret suplexing Stardust from high above and Luke Harper powerbombing Dean Ambrose from and through ladders. To cap it off, two men a lot of folks wanted to see fight at 'Mania, but Daniel Bryan headbutted Dolph Ziggler away from the belt and grabbed it to claim gold on the Grandest Stage of Them All two years running.
The Viper struck in spectacular fashion with an RKO out of nowhere that has to be seen to be believed, delivered to Seth Rollins mid-curb stomp to finish off the man who took his place in The Authority. Triple H battled through what looked to be a hamstring tear and a couple of his old Kliq-mates (plus Hulk Hogan) in a case of overbooking that has to be seen to be believed. With the help of his trusty sledgehammer and a few of his old-Kliq mates (and Road Dogg & Billy Gunn), he made Sting's debut WWE match a loss.
Not sure if you can call six and a half minutes a chance, but they did let the Divas do some actual wrestling. Paige did a lot of the work, but AJ Lee got the hot tag and came back on a well coordinated Bella attack, eventually making the champ tap to a Black Widow. Lana got a chance to walk in front of a tank and throw a shoe, but when he final attempt at distacting John Cena and the official backfired, Rusev's undefeated streak and United States championship reign were both over.
Trying to get that NorCal sun to get out of the sky, Stephanie McMahon and her husband hit the ring to celebrate the record-setting Santa Clara crowd. But when they also reminded those fans who The Authority was, it was time for them to smell what The Rock was cooking. Dwayne Johnson teased a feud with Hunter some more, but backed down when Steph slapped him. But The People's Champ was only making a tactical retreat for back-up...in the form of UFC women's bantamweight champ Ronda Rousey. Rowdy hip tossed The Game and looked to rip McMahon's arm off for her, but let the principal owner slither away while the fans lost their minds.
It got dark enough for Bray Wyatt and The Undertaker to make their entrances, and The Dead Man looked damn good. It seemed like that might be the only thing that went damn good for Taker, as the Eater of Worlds fought through rumors of bum ankle to control a lot of the action. But after each man kicked out of the others finisher, whatever powers propelled The Phenom to a 21 - 1 record on the Show of Shows came through for him one more time, and Tombstone sent Bray to 0 - 2 at WrestleMania...
Then it was time to find out if Roman Reigns was ready, and while no one could have been ready for the asskicking Brock Lesnar unleashed on him, The Big Dog never quit. He finally bloodied the WWE World Heavyweight Champ when he pushed him face first into the ring post, but when more carnage left both men struggling to answer the referee's ten count, Rollins came racing in with his Money in the Bank briefcase to make it a Triple Threat. The Future would not come with a curb stomp and pin of The Beast Incarnate, but those did the trick on his old Shield-mate, and 70,000-plus cheered as a heel snuck out of the biggest show of the year with the belt.
What to look out for
Smarkamania will run wild as the SAP Center in San Jose gets its third big WWE show in just a few days, following Friday night's NXT extravaganza and the Hall of Fame ceremony on Saturday.
While we watch to see what the international crowd does to entertain themselves, we'll be keeping our eyes on how they book three major stars carrying singles' belts. It's been a while since the WWE title was around the waist of a guy who worked every Raw and house show. Say what you will about the traitorous Rollins, but he will put in the work. Can Creative handle an active WWE championship scene and writing programs for IC king Bryan and US standardbearer Cena? With a ready made feud with Ziggler lined up for the former and probably more work with Rusev on tap for the latter, they'll have a head start.
Former champ Lesnar is still scheduled to be in the building tonight. Is he going to take the loss of the title he's held since last August without a fight? Brock usually just lets Paul Heyman talk for him on Monday nights, but a monster that has been getting more and more fan support over the past few months may want his Advocate to not say something stupid, preferring instead to take old Traitorface to Suplex City, (unfortunate gendered insult).
And wither Mr. Heyman? For months he's flirted with the man who currently holds the most prestigious title in the business, and has even seemed to hedge his bets with the vanquished-but-never-looked-better Reigns. As CM Punk and a million Heyman Guys before him would tell you, Paul E will turn on you when it benefits him. Brock may want to watch his back around his legal counsel tonight.
The Viper has a pinfall victory over the new champ, and may look to through his name in the mix. And Hunter and Stephanie have to be as happy about beating Sting and their hand-picked face of the company rising to the top as they are embarrassed by The Rock & Rousey Connection showing them up. Will we get celebrations or retribution from the power couple?
What they should do
For tonight, we'll leave it old Vinnie Mac's hands. He pulled a rabbit out of his butt last night, and he deserves it.
What we're afraid they will do
Roman reads Seth a nursery rhyme, Bray Wyatt jobs to Fandango and we have to watch more Terminator themed entrances.
Seriously, that entrance was dumb, y'all. At least the fast food tie-ins are fun. Who doesn't want to watch Natty & Tyson eat chicken fries?
It's the Spring tradition that many people love more than 'Mania!
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